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Nuisance Species: Snakes

Most snakes are beneficial in helping to control destructive insects and rodents. Only three species of snakes in Ohio (the copperhead and the massasauga and timber rattlesnakes) are venomous. None of these snakes are common.

Problems with snakes range from occasional encounters with a single snake to infestations of large numbers of snakes in basements and out-building foundations. Snakes are a valuable part of the ecosystem, including Ohio's 3 venomous species. Individual snakes should be valued for their rodent- and insect-eating habits. A snake that takes up residence where it cannot be tolerated should be captured and released at least a mile away from the dwelling.

You can make an area less attractive to snakes by:

  • controlling insect and rodent populations
  • removing piles of junk, rocks, brush and boards
  • and keeping grass mowed and landscapes clean.

To remove a snake already in a building, you must first find it. If a snake is difficult to find in the open, place a damp cloth or burlap bag covered with a board or shingle on the basement floor. Use a 1/2- to 1-inch spacer to elevate the board so the snake can easily get under it. The combination of dampness and shelter is attractive to snakes, making them easier to capture.

Snakes can be picked up with a hook or hoe, or by making a noose with a loose slipknot in a strong piece of string and attaching it to a short, strong stick. Lower the snake into a strong paper or cloth bag with no holes. If you use the string, clip the noose with a pair of scissors before dropping the snake in the bag. Transport the snake as soon as possible to a woodlot or undeveloped area away from other houses.

Another effective way to capture snakes inside a home is to use a glue board. These can be purchased in a variety of places such as agriculture supply and hardware stores. Most small snakes can be captured using a single glue board placed against a wall but away from pipes or other objects that a snake could use for leverage to escape.

For larger snakes (four to five feet long) attach several glue boards side-by-side to a piece of plywood. Release snakes by pouring vegetable oil or common cooking oil over the snake where it has adhered to the glue board. Glueboards should only be used indoors or under structures where children, pets and other wildlife cannot reach them.