Of the 250 snake species in the United States, only four of them are venomous. Unfortunately, all four species – the copperhead, coral, rattle, and cottonmouth – can be found here in Texas.
Most of us are well-versed in the art of snake avoidance, but lots of pets aren’t always familiar with typical snake habitats. Indeed, many dogs and cats are drawn to the same spot that snakes seem to frequent. Fortunately, there are some great strategies to keep pets safe from snakes.
If your pet has a run-in with a venomous snake, seek emergency veterinary care ASAP. Try to remain calm and apply pet first aid basics. Do not use ice, heat, or any type of tourniquet. If swelling occurs, remove items that may be restrictive, such as their collar or a bandana.
Know the Score
Having a solid understanding of likely snake habitats and their behaviors is a good step in the right direction. It’s easier to protect your pet when you know how to identify snakes and understand what they’re looking for.
Primarily active during the months between March and November, snakes commonly feed on other snakes, lizards, amphibians, snails, slugs, and rodents and are important players in local ecosystems. For the most part, having natural pest-control is an asset to communities because they eat species that can spread disease to people.
Where to Look
Landscaping beds, garages, water features, and constructions sites are likely slithering spots for snakes. While people understand not to bother snakes or pick them up, many pets simply cannot overcome their curiosity and wind up provoking them or getting hurt.
To keep pets safe from snakes, property owners should reduce or eliminate places that attract them, such as:
- Large rock formations (use tight-fitting smaller rocks or gravel)
- Water features or fish ponds
Likewise, an effort to seal cracks or crevices around the home’s perimeter is a great way to keep pets safe from snakes. Fencing made of wire mesh or solid sheeting, buried 6 inches below the surface, and slightly curved at the top, can deter snakes from entering your lawn. Fencing slanted outward at 30 degrees is also effective.
Lastly, if you reduce areas that attract rodents, like compost heaps, you can drastically cut down on possible snake population in (and around) your yard.
Keep Pets Safe from Snakes
Living in the desert isn’t for everybody, but snakes sure like it. While there are many commercial snake-repellent products available, they include the known carcinogen naphthalene which can negatively impact pets and/or the environment. Use these safe methods instead:
- Essential oils of clove or cinnamon can be equally effective if applied as a diluted spray (4-8 drops per gallon of water) or via saturated cotton balls or fabric strips placed near known snake haunts.
- Plant marigolds (added bonus: they also repel mosquitoes!)
- Funnel traps
- Keep grass neatly trimmed
- Eliminate brush piles
- Use your hose to spray snakes away