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Snakes

Jim Asked

I recently purchased a log home in the country in Lawrenceburg. What do you recommend planting around my house that will keep snakes away? Also, your thoughts on a pet to keep them away.

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The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Jim: Congratulations on your new purchase. It sounds lovely and a great place to be right now. A cabin in the country could potentially be a nice habitat for snakes especially if it sat vacant for an extended period of time. Snakes are an important part of our ecosystem and are beneficial in terms of eating on slugs, insects, rodents and other pests. Snakes are in constant search of food and shelter. Understanding their preferred habitats and eliminating them around our homes will encourage them to move along. Snakes don’t want to encounter us anymore than we want to encounter them but this doesn’t make it any less startling when it happens. According to The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kentucky is home to 33 species of snakes and 4 of them are venomous. The poisonous species include Copperheads, Western Cottonmouths, Timber Rattlesnakes and Western Pygmy Rattlesnakes.

Snakes like to find shelter in holes and small crevices found in wood/rock piles, foundations, crawl spaces and other dilapidated structures. They choose these places because this is also where they will find food. Brush piles and overgrown landscapes are also a great location for snakes and their food sources to live. Keep the property free of debris and the lawn on the shorter side during the growing season. Landscape beds should be maintained and clean of plant debris. The mulch should be around 3 inches thick. If we discourage their food source, we will in turn send the snakes looking elsewhere. There are non-toxic snake repellants on the market that come in granular and liquid form. It can be applied around the home or property but will require ongoing applications. Incorporating plants like onions, garlic and herbs can also help keep snakes at bay. Fragrant annuals such a marigolds can also be a deterrent. Domestic animals may help with their presence alone but it could also put them at risk for getting bit.

There are things we can do in the garden and around our homes to deter snakes but short of building a solid fence, nothing is guaranteed. For detailed information about snakes and how to identify them visit the following sites:

http://kysnakes.ca.uky.edu/venomous

https://fw.ky.gov/Wildlife/Documents/kysnakebook.pdf

 

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