Rattlesnake Prevention and Control Methods
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An occasional single poisonous snake can be destroyed if one has enough determination. In areas where the habitat is favorable for rattlesnakes, copperheads, or water moccasins, a significant reduction in their population density may be difficult. In snake country, most people learn to “keep their eyes open” and be cautious.
When feasible, the most effective way for a homeowner to protect a child’s play area from rattlesnakes is to construct a rattlesnake-proof fence around it. The fencing must be tight. If wire mesh is used, it should be 1/4-inch mesh and about 3 feet high. Bury the bottom 3 or 4 inches or bend outward 3 or more inches of the base of the wire to discourage other animals from digging under the fence. Put the stakes on the inside and install a gate that is tight-fitting at the sides and bottom, equipped with a self-closing spring. The benefit of the fence will be lost if wood, junk, or thick vegetation accumulates against the outside of the fence.
Vegetation that has ground-level foliage also provides attractive hiding places for rattlesnakes, so it should be removed or properly pruned. Tight-fitting doors will prevent snakes from entering outbuildings. The foundations of all buildings should be sealed or tightly screened with 1/4-inch wire mesh to keep out snakes.
It is always desirable to use nonlethal biological means of control when feasible. Although good quantified data are not available to evaluate the effectiveness of removing the prey of snakes, effective, sustained rodent control will reduce the attractiveness of a rural residence or other facility to rattlesnakes. Snakes will not remain in habitat made less favorable for them. Hiding places under buildings, piles of debris, or dense vegetation should be removed. Hay barns and feed storage areas that encourage rodents will attract rattlers.
- No methods are known that will frighten rattlesnakes. Sounds certainly will not work because snakes are deaf.
- Many potential snake repellents have been researched, only to be found ineffective
- No effective toxicant is registered for the control of rattlesnakes.
- It may be possible to kill rattlesnakes in burrows and rock dens with toxic gas, although this is not a very practical method.
- Various combinations of fencing and traps at known rattlesnake dens can be very successful if one is trying to collect rattlesnakes.