Snake Removal

"What can I do to keep snakes away from my house?"

This is a question I am constantly being asked for people. The short answer is nothing. Nothing will permanently repel snakes away from your property. In saying that, there are many ways in which people still try to keep snakes away. Here are some examples.

I was called out to remove 2 cobras from a property. Where the cobras were, in a small, fenced area, I noticed a lot of Wild Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) growing along the fence line. "Gee, it grows well here, I wonder if they'll give me some as payment for capturing the snake?", I though to myself. I love indigenous gardening.

At one point during the search for these cobras, we wanted to block the pipe to prevent them from escaping, whilst leaving that entrance of the pipe. I was looking for rocks to lay down, when I saw the security walk over with a pot plant, and he placed it in front of the pipe. "Uh...I don't think that's going to work, there's still plenty spaces for it to escape", I said, feeling perplexed. "Oh, no this plant will keep them inside the pipe". I didn't even register that it was more Wild Garlic in the pot. "Ahh! So that's why you are growing this plant along the fence line!".

I told him it doesn't keep snakes away, but he didn't believe me. 

"See, you have this plant growing all along your fence? Well, the snakes are inside your area now. They moved straight through your plants". He was convinced.

- Other plants used as repellents, that I know of, are Plectranthus neochillis and Geraniums. I've caught a Spotted Rock Snake on a windowsill, just above a pot of Geraniums.I've also put some P.neochillis in a display tank for a snake display at a market. The Puff Adder, which I was displaying, curled up around it. They don't work.

- Most of the homes that I go to (well, I'd say around 70%), to remove a snake, I learn that the owners use a repellent. They either use shop bought stuff, or Jeye's Fluid. They pour these substances around their gardens and homes. They believe it works. So I tell them, "If it works, you wouldn't need to call me would you?" ;) 

* If Jeye's Fluid is poured directly on a snake, the snake will suffer a slow and agonizing death. Please don't do this. Plus, it can't be good for your own lungs to breathe it in!

*For those who don't know, Jeye's Fluid is a toxic chemical used for cleaning drains.

- Burning things, usually tyres, is another. However, in most of the cases that I've attended too, the snake is hiding under something on the ground. So the smoke from the burning tyre will have no effect on the snake, as the smoke is rising.

So what does work?

Well, you have two options.

A). If you do not want snakes in your garden, keep it neat and tidy. DO NOT go and chop down all the trees, otherwise you'll have less oxygen to breathe. I've been to many properties where the entire area is paved, there's no garden, but there's still a snake in the year.

So when I say keep it neat and tidy, I mean don't leave piles of wood, bricks, rubble or rubbish lying around. Trim shrubs growing against your windows. Don't let the grass grow too long. Basically, snakes come to your homes looking for shelter, or for food. So the less hiding spaces you give them, the less chances you have of them visiting.

HOWEVER, having a snake in the garden is not a bad thing at all. You're lucky to have such an amazing animal as a neighbour ;) They don't want anything to do with you, they just want somewhere to hide, or, they just want to find your rats, lizards and frogs.

B) If you desperately don't want a snake on your property, move away from Africa. Ireland and New Zealand are two country's (there's one or two more) where there are no snakes. How boring!

I hope this helps you, especially if you're scared of snakes, in some way. I certainly hope it saves you money (unless maybe you take my final option B advice). One of the best things you can do though, is to try and overcome your fear of snakes by learning about them. Read up about them in books. You can read up on them on the internet, but the web is filled with hoax's and rubbish really. There are some good sites. I will try to help educate you through posts on this page. :)

~Nick Evans 

Tel 072 809 5806

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