rattlesnake problem

appalachia(6)May 17, 2008

Hi. I have some acreage in the Cherokee Nat. Forest in Tennessee and have discovered lots of rattlesnakes. I've got a german shepherd, and cats, but I'm afraid they'll just get bit by the snakes.

I've heard a Jack Russell Terrier is a good dog for destroying the snakes. My husband thinks it's wrong to kill them, but I said, "Do you want me to pick them up by the tails like the Crocodile Hunter?" Not me, no thanks. If I have a hoe and see them, they're heads are off! But I have two small children and I am concerned even if they go outside on the lawn. Any suggestions? (And yes, I realize snakes are beneficial to the garden, etc. but I'm sorry, my children are more important, and it's a LONG way to the closest hospital!!!)

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The best recommendation is always to reduce the habitat that snakes like. Now of course you can't do this in the whole Cherokee Nat. Forest, but you can do it as much as possible in your area. Brush piles, rock piles and long grass are the usual areas. Do some research on what they like (habitat wise and prey) and then try to correct that in the areas that your children and pets frequent. Hopefully they will then choose to live further away from you.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 3:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wouldn't trust a Jack Russell to kill a rattler. I've heard of them doing that, but I've known some wimpy ones too. Same with dachshunds, who I've heard of killing snakes (I own two now--one would attack and one would hide behind me). If it were me, I'd hire someone to find the rattlers and remove them safely--for them and my kids. Unfortunately I have no experience in doing that, so no advice to give either. I'm sure one of the very knowledgeable people in here can help.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 5:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would call the rangers in the national forest and talk to them. They are familiar with the area and the habits of the snakes. I would think cats would be better than dogs at killing snakes.

I live very near the Pisgah National Forest and have talked to the rangers there several times and they have been very helpful.

You might also want to find out if they have air evacuation available in your area as well as where the best place to go is (and what to do) if someone does get bitten. Not all hospitals have antivenom.

Educate your kids. Depending on their age, they can be taught not to handle snakes as well as how to ID rattlers.

Good luck with this. I bet your property is beautiful!

Blue Ridge Mountain Girl

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 7:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The thing is you are in the woods there and the snakes are part of the woods (as are ticks etc.). Whatever you do about any that happen to be present at a particular time, others are likely to show up later. As with ticks you really have to modify your own approach in response to the threat, rather than trying to remove a threat that really cannot be removed.

Maybe there is some kind of wire fencing you can put in to create and maintain a secure area near the house.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 10:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
waplummer(Z5 NY)

In New York rattlers are a protected species.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 10:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

But everywhere kids are a protected species!..I'd have rattlers removed if possible. And frankly--if I saw a rattlesnake on my property, I would kill it without a second thought. The government can protect them all they want--I need to protect my children, and rattlesnakes aren't on that protected list.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 10:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ontheteam(5a-6 (S.Eastern, MA))

I feel your pain ..I have 4 kids...so I would NOT be buying land with a critter that CAN NOT be controlled.
You IMHO made an un educated choice and are going to make nature pay.. So now wood chucks chipmunks ,removing bird hides no rabbit..all the other nature you may have wanted to expose your kids to will have to me marginalized as well...
Is this a weekend place or your residence?
It won't be easy but in either case.. and you should not be sending the kiddlets outside to play unattended.. until they are old enough(12 ish? ) and educated enough to know what to do and how to AVOID the snakes.. 'cause it ain't just rattlers....that can bite.
As far as choosing to live so far away from a hospital... again.. not a choice I'd make with kids myself. I would suggest that EVERYONE in the house take a Red Cross 1st aid course and ask the instructor for snake bite specific instructions.
I wish yo well and that you can find a safe way to enjoy your land.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 3:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, shut up ontheteam. You and nywoodsman need to have your own forum. I'm sure all the woodchucks would WEEP over a decrease in snakes. Just WEEP.

I lived in an area that had bear, coyote, mountain lion, AND rattle snakes. For us, getting large dogs was an absolute necessity to allow our children to play in the fenced but woodsy back yard. It wasn't possible to see all parts of the yard at a glance, so the dogs insured that the bigger critters weren't interested in coming in and the snakes would be found by them FIRST if one did come in. (This actually happened. My idiot neighbors made a $%^$$^ ROCK PILE from the stones they didn't want in their yard. After all the work I did insuring there was NO place for a large snake to live in my yard, they made a rattle snake condo in theirs.... I hard to put chicken wire on the fence to keep it out.)

The best strategy is to make a safe zone by making sure there are no overhanging rocks or rotting logs or tall grass that will be attractive in the area. Make sure you don't attract mice, either. Then, when your kids leave the safe area, they should ALWAYS have the big dog with them--not to defend them from snakes but to raise the chances of getting a heads up.

I'd never get a dog hoping it'd kill snakes. Awareness is the best you can expect. But that's worth a lot.

If you have a huge snake infestation, then you have a huge rodent problem, and you might want to look at that....

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 2:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well put reyesuela.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 10:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Many people are bitten by venomous snakes trying to harass or kill them.....

There is no way to kill all of the unwanted wildlife no matter what it is, the others will just breed more to fill in the territory. Making your property less attractive to them and providing barriers and deterrents works better. Keep the area around your house or cabin mowed short and without cover.

I certainly would contact the park rangers or wildlife officials and I would teach your children not to pick up or harass snakes or any other wildlife....

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 12:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I hate to say this but in tennessee snakes are protected and its against the law to kill a snake. Now dont get me wrong I am a mother also and I am not going to say either way if I would or wouldnt, my kids come first bottom line.

I do believe reyesuela hit the nail on the head I have been in pest control for many years and the famous question is do we get rid of snakes. Well of course we couldnt kill them but we would get rid of the food source which then encourages the snakes to move elsewhere. Mice burry themselves in the ground and around structures. There is mice bait on the market that anyone can purchase that has a wax coating on it which helps the bait to continue to work once it gets wet. Try like a local co-op or any kind of retail store farmers go to. Talon packs or the famous decon will not work once it gets wet. The only problem with this method is if you 'bait' in an open area that your pets or other animals pick up. I know that with the 'bait' we use it would take 12 blocks eaten entirely to kill a german sheppard. Also another concern would be what if an animal eats the mice that have been killed by the bait. It would take 144 mouse livers eaten by a cat to kill it. Cats dont normally eat the entire mouse but normally just plays with it and accidently kills it.

Or you could always do as blueridgemtngrl they are pretty familar with this question they probaly have good advice to give heck they may even know a local snake catcher.

Anywho good luck to ya!!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 12:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Snakes are protected only in that you can't decide to "clear out" an area of snakes because you find them offensive. As indicated above, snakes tend to mean you have a rodent problem. Without the snakes, you will have a WORSE rodent problem. Yes, we DO have bubonic plague in the U.S., as a matter of fact...

But you CAN kill snakes if they are endangering your children, pets, livestock or yourself.

I hope you can tell the difference between kinds of snakes, and are teaching your children. If not, you need to learn. The nontoxic King snakes, for example, will kill and eat rattlesnakes, so killing them would be counter-productive.

If your children are small, I would fence in a snakeproof area close to the house. Then the children could play without danger. If you think some fencing 3 ft high with 1/4" mesh would be expensive, ask your emergency room how much a basic snakebite treatment costs, minimum. Fencing is dirt cheap by comparison. We won't even go into the scarring issues. (If you've got a strong stomach, go to Google Images and type in 'snakebite scars' or 'snakebite damage'.)

Below is a link to some pretty good info on snake-proofing and snake barriers. Even though the heading says 'nonpoisonous' snakes, they talk about keeping the poisonous ones away, too.

I used to work for a vet in SoCal, and we would get dogs bitten by snakes quite frequently -- once, three dogs in one day. A dog that gives warning of a snake is better than a dog that attacks snakes. A herding breed will often place themselves between a child/person and a danger.

As mentioned above, you need to know what procedures to follow if someone is bitten. Pay absolutely NO ATTENTION to what you've seen in movies and TV, as that is pure garbage.

And don't plan on keeping antivenin at home to use 'for an emergency', for three main reasons: 1) Hospitals test you for allergy to it before they inject you with it; 2) Most people need multiple doses of antivenin for a single bite; 3) Your vital signs have to be monitored. It's also quite expensive.

AND NEVER USE A TOURNIQUET! unless you are specifically instructed to do so, and how to do it, by medical personnel.


Here is a link that might be useful: Snakeproofing your home

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 10:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

We apply for a license to shoot rattlesnakes in my area. I think a .410 is the most common removal device.

I know of a rocky area by the Bear River that houses many, many rattlesnakes. When I want to see snakes, or show others, I take them to this spot. In the late afternoon, the snakes will slither down to the riverbank, glide into the water, and cross....all within a few feet of where you're sitting. I've also watched a rattlesnake catch fish underwater in a small stream pool.

I am reverent and full of care when I cross into rattlesnake territory. But I won't hesitate to kill a rattlesnake if it crosses into mine....


    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 12:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

A 6 foot copperhead? I don't think so! ;-) It's one of the smallest of our venomous snakes. But I appreciate the fact that at 2 a.m. things can take on a new dimension.

I'd also like to comment that moth balls and crystals are extremely toxic and should not be used in any fashion other than what they are supposed to be used for. Not only are they a known carcinogen, but can cause a myriad of other serious problems, as well.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 1:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A group of barn cats might be a good option, and not because they will kill the snakes -- the cats will kill the rodents the snakes are feasing on. If you contact cat rescues, they often have groups of feral or semi-feral cats that need a home and can't be placed in a house.

You'll probably lose some cats to the snakes and coyotes, though. Giving them a secure refuge will help. But more to the point, snakes don't like predators, and cats are most certainly predatory.

You may also want to encourage other predators. Owl boxes, etc.

My german shepherd saved me from a copperhead when I was a little kid. Killed the snake, too, and survived, which seems to defy the odds. On the other hand, my corgi ran right over a snake by the back gate the other day in her desire to get outside and play. I almost stepped on it -- luckily just a black rat snake, and they are a welcome critter. So I wouldn't get a dog expecting it to be a cure for snakes, but a large canine companion isn't a bad thing to have around for the kids.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 5:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I agree with others that the best bet is to have a dog that will alert you to any snakes in the yard. Don't expect the dog to kill the snake, and I would quickly control my dog if he did find a rattler to avoid him getting bitten, which is unlikely but possible. The right dog would quickly locate any snake in the yard, and you could have some confidence allowing the kids to run around if the dog is there to check for snakes. Once you find a rattler, get the kids out of the way and you can decide what to do. I think it is a shame to buy property in the woods then systematically begin to kill things that live there because you don't like them, especially when you're talking about rare, slow reproducing, predators like rattlers. Maybe there is a way to have them relocated if they show up. Whatever you decide to do about rattlers, I think safety of the kids has to be a first priority and an alert dog is the best way to be sure no rattlers are hanging around. Plus, a dog is likely to keep rattlers away just by barking. Rattlers tend to be shy, a bit slow moving, and avoid commotion. I don't think a fence is going to be the answer - you'd always have to worry if a rattler got under the fence. I don't think cats will do any good, since they won't be nearly as good at alerting you if a snake is present. They would probably know about a snake, but won't bother to tell you.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 10:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Belgianpup, I think each state is different regarding snakes. I am not familar with washington's laws in regards to snakes but in tennessee it is against the law to harm kill or remove snakes from the wild without a proper permit. If I am not mistaken appalachia said she was in tennessee.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 12:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hear, Hear Ontheteam!

I'm on your team.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 9:14PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Poison Sumac Tree
Is this a poison sumac tree by chance? My woods appear...
Has anyone tried this?
You know how asian bittersweet and wild grape vine...
White trillium
Is there an online source for Great White Trilliums? Thank...
questions on English ivy
I'm in zone 6, suburban New Jersey, and have a yard...
What to Do with Wild Brambles?
In my wooded areas, I have a lot of brambles, mostly...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™