Monday, October 20, 2014

Snakes are natural pest control

I like these guys:

This black racer was hanging out in a swampy scrubland area
It's truly incredible to me that many folks - even country folk that should know better - will kill the snakes in their yard.

Here's why you shouldn't. If you have ever complained about:

1. Rats
2. Mice
3. Cockroaches
4. Squirrels
5. Berry-eating birds
6. Frogs

...then you should hope you have snakes!

Think about it this way: which do you prefer?

1 snake


200 rodents

Snakes are natural pest control!

As a top-end predator, snakes are essential balancing agents in your garden, yard or farm. Rather than killing them, we should deliberately create habitat.

Rock, stick and log piles create good places for these vermin destroyers.

Even stacks of flower pots work well. Look at this beautiful ringneck my daughter and I found while potting up plants a few days ago:

I can hear some of you now: NO! Creating snake habitat is... SCARY! I mean, what about rattlesnakes???

C'mon, don't be a wuss. Seriously.

Click for Amazon page.
Unless you have rattlesnakes around your property, you're probably going to be fine. Their favorite place to live is generally gopher tortoise burrows.

What you want is to leave space for good guys like rat snakes, black racers, garter snakes, ring necks, king snakes, etc. They'll manage your pest control, plus add some slithery beauty to your homestead.

I recommend you get familiar with the good guys.

Heck, pick up a good field guide... maybe you'll start thinking snakes aren't so bad after all.

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At October 20, 2014 at 7:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We love our resident indigo snake! But we have family members who will hardly step foot on our property because of the *possibility* they might see a snake or lizard. Cue the eyeroll. One of the very first things we taught our son about being outside was to watch where you step. Once he mastered that, we don't worry.
--Ivy Mae

At October 20, 2014 at 9:18 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Indigo kingsnakes are wonderful - I haven't seen any of those here yet. And yes, watching where you step isn't all that hard. I've been bitten by snakes (granted, when I was catching them on purpose) and even if it happens, it's not that big a deal. No reason to be a chicken.

At October 20, 2014 at 11:19 AM , Blogger Arisia said...

Missouri wisdom says if you have a black snake living in your yard, you can be sure you won't have any copperheads. They don't coexist. Does this sort of thing apply to snakes native to other areas?

At October 20, 2014 at 11:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have two blacksnakes and a king snake living on our property. Only had one copperhead in the last 7 years -introduced him to my bushhog! We also have a lot of brown worm snakes that live under the leaves. They are shiny brown, thin, about 4 to 9 inches long. We thought at first they might be copperhead babies, but they did not have the yellow-orange tip on their tail. Protect your snakes! Yellow jackets are a lot more dangerous!

At October 20, 2014 at 4:53 PM , Blogger Izzy said...

Our property is in the swamp, we have them all. Can't say I like any of them. I'll let the racers go, but if it's venomous, I make no promises. We've had two dogs bit on property in the last year. One by a pigmy the other by a water moccasin. I also had a very close encounter with a moccasin coiled up and ready to strike me in the face, inside my chicken coop!!! It also killed three of my hens.

We've recently brought in some semi-feral cats to help with the rodent and snake issue we face. There isn't a week that goes by when we don't spot a venomous or non-venomous snake on property.

To highlight another story, I grew up in WI and was struck by a snake while running around bare foot. I had to have a shot in my leg to ward off any diseases it carried and was left paralyzed from the waist down for two weeks. I hate snakes!

At October 20, 2014 at 9:12 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Sounds like the shot paralyzed you. Yikes. That's totally scary.

I'm not a fan of moccasins, though the pygmies don't bother me. Dogs seem to find ways to get bit. Moccasins are nasty creatures. I draw the snake line at them.

I wonder if the cats will help - or if they'll start breeding, then come after you...

At October 20, 2014 at 9:12 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Worm snakes! I'm jealous. I love those weird ones.

At October 20, 2014 at 9:13 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

It's probably the black kingsnakes they're thinking about. There are a lot of kingsnake varieties, and - in my knowledge - all of them will eat other snakes, including poisonous ones.

At October 22, 2014 at 7:30 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

We are just now starting to see snakes in our yard after more than two years. I personally think it's because our compost and brush piles are attracting mice, but we have hawks and owls hanging around too. Can't complain about that.

At October 22, 2014 at 8:46 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Yes. It's the sign of a healthy ecosystem: high-level predators. Glad to hear it. I love brush piles. ;)

At October 25, 2014 at 11:45 AM , Blogger Phacelia said...

Snakes are near and dear to my heart! I think an appreciation of them represents a more balanced view of the world. Really enjoy your blog. :)

At October 25, 2014 at 7:09 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

I like your style, Phacelia. Thank you.

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At April 9, 2015 at 9:04 AM , Blogger bradshawjohn said...

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At June 3, 2015 at 7:13 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

It is crazy to think that snakes are natures natural pest controllers. I think I will stick with their human counterparts though. When I think of pests, it makes me happy that there is an entire industry devoted to eliminating them.

At June 3, 2015 at 7:13 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

It is crazy to think that snakes are natures natural pest controllers. I think I will stick with their human counterparts though. When I think of pests, it makes me happy that there is an entire industry devoted to eliminating them.

At July 7, 2015 at 3:21 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I've never thought of snakes as a natural pest control, they just seem slimy and scary, so my initial reaction is to get rid of it as fast as I possibly can. I liked your insight, however, that snakes kill mice, rats, cockroaches, and even some birds. Having this perspective makes me think twice, as you suggest we do, for allowing snakes to be in my yard. They aren't harming me, they are actually benefiting me, so allowing them to stay is a good idea. Thanks for your thoughts on this situation. You made me think about these scary creatures (at least in my opinion) in a different perspective!


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