Rattlesnake Control

Uncredited rattle snake imageRattlesnakes--various species of snakes with bony tails which "rattle" when vigorously shook.

Biology

  • Cold blooded--they become less active in colder weather

Signs

  • Sightings--many times rattlesnakes are observed
  • Audible--once you hear the rattle noise, you won't forget it

Damage

  • Psychological--many people are deathly afraid of snakes, whether venomous or not.
  • Venom--rattlesnakes can harm humans, livestock and pets through their bites. Although a 1/3 of rattlesnake bites lack venom, the puncture can introduce bacteria causing infection.

Rattlesnake Control Methods

Habitat Modification

  • Exclusion: snakes don't gnaw into buildings. They can only exploit an opening that is already present.
    • seal openings or use mesh fence of 1/4 inch;
    • install a fence barrier around an area you wish to keep snake free. 3 ft. high 1/4 inch mesh fence buried to 3 inches; Click for snake barrier information.
  • Reduce snake friendly habitat:
    • mow or remove vegetation
    • remove debris, rock & woodpiles,
    • reduce rodent prey

Repellents

  • Several products are on the market. However, evidence supporting their effectiveness has had mixed results.

Trapping

  • Several glue-based traps are on the market. These are very effective in capturing snakes and allow for release as well.  Trapping is only effective if the weather is warm enough for snake movement and if traps are properly located.
  • SnakeGuard® Trapping Tips
  • snake box trap. Photo by Dallas VirchowLive capture noose trap Description: Used for jawed snakes. Design by W.E. Howard. Large box traps are also used. Photo Credits: Dallas Virchow

Toxicants

  • None available

Shooting-Hunting

  • Indoors--if looking for a snake inside a structure, concentrate attention around heat sources like the water heater, furnace, refrigerator, freezer.
  • Outdoors--focus your search where snakes can hide, such as under rock and wood piles, leaves, etc. Be sure to wear protect foot, leg and handware.

Snake tongs can be very helpful when needing to handle snakes as shown below.

Snake tongs in use. Photo by Wes PatrickDescription: shows man holding snake within tongs at distance Photo Credits: Wes Patrick

Dave Purwin with tonged rattlesnakePoisonous Snake Handling Equipment (Right image) Description: Shows gloves and snake tongs used by Dave Purwin, NUWCO Photo Credits: DavePurwin, Desert Wildlife Services, Inc.

Health and Safety with Rattlesnakes

Q. Is dried venom still dangerous?

A. If you injected enough dry venom into an animal it would give a reaction. However dry venom is usually "stuck" to a surface/material. Some venom components start to break down immediately in the air and sunlight. Let's put it this way -- your risk is very small. However, err on the safe side. Treat it as dangerous.

University Publications

 

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