Snakes, like all wild animals, prefer to avoid humans. When they encounter us, they make every effort to escape and only act defensively if feeling threatened or trapped. The majority of snakebites occur when people deliberately interfere with a snake or try to catch one. They are best left alone. So why do they come into our homes anyway?
Snakes will enter a home of their own accord for one of four reasons.
- It is cold outside, and they are seeking warmth.
- There is a readily available supply of prey around the house.
- They want to lay eggs in a place with a temperature suitable for incubation.
- They need a place to hide or hibernate.
1. Looking For A Place To Warm Up
Unlike birds and mammals, snakes cannot regulate their body temperature, which is why we say they are coldblooded. This means that when they get too cold, they must search for a warm place. In colder weather, your house could attract a cold snake wanting to increase its body temperature.
Underfloor heating, heaters, boilers, and other external heat sources can attract snakes at certain times of the year. However, most of the time, they are quite happy with just a patch of sunlight in their own environment.
In some countries, wild snakes have been known to snuggle up to a sleeping person for warmth. Unlike the body of a snake, human bodies emit heat. This makes for a dangerous situation if the snake is venomous because a sleeping person seldom lies totally still. They move in their sleep and startle the snake, which results in a bite.
You can’t warm up a snake by putting a blanket or sweater on it. We feel warm when we use a blanket or sweater because our body heat accumulates under the woolly layers. A snake’s body doesn’t work that way. So if a cold snake does end up in your bed, don’t think it’s because of the duvet or fluffy blanket, unless you have an electric blanket, of course.
Don’t worry about snakes in the bed. It usually only happens in countries where people sleep on the floor. Snakes avoid humans wherever possible because we pose a danger to them and are too big to be considered prey.
2. Readily Available Supply Of Prey
The biggest attractor of snakes to your house is the availability of prey animals. Many snakes eat mice and rats, but some also eat slugs and worms. As such, they do us a service by keeping the numbers of these pests down. However, if you encourage rats and mice into your home or garden in various ways, a hungry snake will follow its nose.
Scattering seeds and other food for wild birds attract not only birds but also rodents. When the food is finished, rodents may enter your house looking for more. Even if you use a bird feeder, birds usually leave seeds behind on the ground below. Rodents love chicken coops and stables because of all the food there. Snakes, in turn, seek out the rodents.
Feeding dogs and other pets outside also attracts rodents, especially if there are many food scraps left uneaten.
Depending on where you live, keeping poultry such as geese, ducks, chickens, and turkeys can also attract snakes, especially if you breed the birds. While the average snake may have difficulty swallowing a fully grown goose or turkey, goslings and poults make a welcome meal.
Bats and birds are another food source for some snakes. If you have a bird or bat’s nest on your roof, the animals may tempt a snake to climb up there for a snack. While not all snakes climb readily, those that eat baby birds and bats in the wild have no difficulty getting up into rafters or ceilings.
Some snakes exclusively eat frogs or other small reptiles such as lizards and geckoes. If you have a garden pond full of frogs, chances are a snake will turn up sooner or later. Certain snakes live close to natural water sources for this very reason. Even a well-watered garden can attract food that snakes eat.
Chickens attract snakes in some parts of the world not only because rodents are attracted to chicken food but because, in the case of larger snakes, the chickens themselves are prey items. Homeowners living in regions that are home to larger snakes may well find a snake amongst the chickens from time to time.
3. Looking For A Nesting Site
Not all snakes lay eggs, but those who do need to find environmental conditions ideal for the eggs to incubate successfully. Temperature and moisture levels are critical elements for hatching snake eggs. For this reason, snakes will sometimes crawl into hollow walls or narrow spaces in the house to lay their eggs in the winter months.
Most snakes don’t stay near their eggs once they have laid them. There are some exceptions, such as pythons who coil around their eggs protectively until they hatch.
Here are some places that may be used as nesting sites:
- Garden walls
- Corrugated iron sheets
- Backyard junk
- Piles of leaf litter
It is not that common for snakes to lay their eggs in human houses. They are more likely to do so in the garden.
When baby snakes hatch, they could enter a house with rodent’s nests because they are looking for food. Hatchling snakes usually don’t hang around their nest but go their separate ways quite quickly.
Cats are notorious for bringing baby snakes into the house to play with. They don’t always kill them. So if you find a small snake indoors and you have a cat, you know the likely culprit. While most snakes are not venomous to humans, the babies of venomous snakes are fully equipped from birth and can be dangerous to children, pets, and adults.
4. Shelter From Danger
Even snakes have their natural enemies. Birds of prey and other animals eat snakes regularly, so the reptiles do not like to be out in the open for long. They feel safest under logs, trees, piles of rubbish, and in long grass where you cannot spot them easily.
It can take many days for a snake to digest a meal, and they need hiding places to do this safely after they have eaten. Human homes can offer such shelter, especially in inclement weather.
Snakes can squeeze into minor cracks, such as under garage doors or where the plumbing enters the walls. They like to hide behind appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, storage boxes, or small cupboards.
In colder regions, many snakes hibernate and need a safe place away from predators. Snakes will often use basements or old cisterns and crawlspaces as places to hibernate and regularly return to those sites.
How To Limit Snake Incursions In Your Home
To reduce the chances of finding a snake in your house, remove the possible things to attract them. This means eliminating food sources, getting pest control to deal with rats and mice living in your house, and keeping your yard and home clear of clutter. Here are other ways to limit this exposure:
- Feed pets inside and remove all scraps.
- Make sure birdseed is securely contained.
- Keep the grass around your home short.
- Don’t leave piles of wood or leaves lying around.
- Clear away garden rubble.
- Seal up cracks in floorboards, pipes, and walls to maintain screens on doors and windows.
Keep your yard clear of hiding spots like sheets of metal, crates, and pallets. Remove water sources such as pools and ponds. Don’t feed wild birds by scattering seeds on the ground. If you have a bird feeder, try to make sure that the birdseed is adequately contained.
Bromeliads are plants that hold water and attract frogs and other small animals. Remove them from around your house. Electronic and chemical snake repellants don’t work, so don’t be fooled by companies trying to make a fast buck out of your fear.
Here is an excellent video for you to watch as well. You can jump to 0.53 for all of the tips they have provided:
Snakes are not necessarily pests and can actually help in the control of other pests such as rodents and frogs in your yard. However, in the yard is where you want them to stay, and when they venture into your dwelling, it can make for a frightening experience. If you see a snake in your house, never try to remove it yourself. Call a professional snake catcher or pest control service. Most people cannot tell a venomous snake from a non-venomous, so don’t take chances.