Last weekend, I came home to find a black racer snake desperately clinging to the bottom of my garage door as it opened.
Snakes eat all kinds of things that I don’t like around the house, like cockroaches, spiders, and mice. Most act as free pest control and aren’t dangerous or threatening. Usually, they slither away and hide when they see you.
Still, there are aggressive, venomous snakes no matter where you are in the country. Here in Florida, we have Water Moccasins and coral snakes, some of the deadliest snakes in North America.
I’m not one of those people that’s terrified of snakes. In fact, I’m usually the person that gets uncomfortably close to a snake to figure out if it’s venomous or not.
But that doesn’t mean I want one squatting in my garage.
In this article, I’ll share some tips on getting rid of snakes in your garage and keeping them away permanently.
Why Are Snakes In the Garage Anyway?
Snakes typically prefer wild areas. However, when they live close to people, they’re usually found in the garden, hiding in a bush or undergrowth.
So what makes them migrate into the garage?
Typically, snakes choose a home near a plentiful food source. Usually, this means insects, lizards, spiders, mice, or birds. Occasionally, a snake will hunt and follow its prey into your garage through a hole or other gap.
If a snake finds enough food in your garage, it may stay awhile.
Another reason why snakes choose to make their home in your garage is because it offers considerably more safety than it’ll find outside. Your garage is relatively safe from predators such as hawks or other birds and provides plenty of hiding areas.
Since they’re cold-blooded, snakes need to regulate their temperature, especially in the winter.
During temperature extremes, they search for nesting areas with milder temperatures, such as your garage.
How Snakes Get In Your Garage
However, they don’t need anything nearly that large.
Most snakes are expert climbers. The Eastern rat snake, for example, goes after nests and birdhouses.
An open garage or entry door is a welcome mat to a snake. Snakes can slither into a dryer vent in the middle of a wall or any opening under your eaves.
Generally, if a hole or crack in a wall is more than an inch in diameter, a snake can slither through it.
In my case, I found a small gap between my garage door seal and my concrete floor that was more than large enough for the snake to get through.
If your garage is already sealed tight, it’s possible they came in through the rest of the house. Look for holes, cracks, and open gaps around the rest of your home.
Signs of Snakes in Your Garage
You don’t have to see the snake to know it’s living in your garage. Some tell-tale signs include:
- Snakes can shed their skin a few times a year and as often as once a month.
- A snake moving about the garage floor will leave a long trail through any dust or dirt.
- Snake droppings are usually dark and look like small tubes and cords. They don’t usually leave much waste behind because they can retain such matter for months.
I don’t recommend hunting for the snake if you think you have one in your garage. It’s common for venomous and harmless snakes to look extremely similar to each other.
However, if you want to try and find it, dress properly and wear closed-toed shoes, long pants, a heavy shirt with long sleeves, and thick gloves.
Examine any dark areas, storage boxes, and under lawnmowers or other equipment. Snakes like heat, so look near your garage water heater or any appliance that generates heat.
How to Get Rid of Snakes in a Garage
It is difficult to get rid of snakes yourself, especially if you’re not used to handling them.
A bite from non-venomous snakes can cause infections or an allergic reaction. Bites from venomous snakes can cause very severe or even fatal reactions.
Avoid Direct Confrontation
Above all, remain calm.
It’s best not to confront the animal directly by touching or trying to move it. It won’t hunt you down, but it may try to attack if it feels threatened. Usually, however, it will attempt to hide in a safe place until the threat passes.
If you see the snake in the middle of the garage floor, you can open the garage door and wait for it to leave. If you’re certain the snake is harmless, you can try to use a broom to persuade it to leave.
Eliminate the Food Source
If you eliminate nearby food sources, most snakes will likely leave on their own. Snakes eat rats, mice, insects, and other small creatures commonly found in your typical garage.
These animals, in turn, go after any food. If you must store excess food in your garage, put it in sealed containers or refrigerators. Avoid leaving pet food in pet bowls or open bags, and store it in well-covered containers.
If possible, do not store your trash cans in your garage since spoiled food will attract many animals that snakes like to eat.
Once any food sources have been removed, you’ll need to prevent snakes from entering your garage in the first place.
This means covering vents or drains that lead into your garage with galvanized screening. Replace any damaged weatherstripping and seal gaps larger than a quarter-inch in diameter.
Check that the trim on the outside of your garage door reaches all the way to the ground outside. If not, the gap between the bottom of the trim and the ground may prove large enough for the reptile to crawl through.
Snake-Proofing Your Garage Exterior
Minimize or eliminate bushes, tall grasses, and other foliage by keeping a well-maintained garden. Avoid leaving piles of grass clippings or leaves. Snakes can hide in these areas, especially if they’re up against your home, and then enter your garage from there.
Remove trash, wood piles, old furniture, scrap metal, and other debris from your yard.
If the problem persists, building a snake fence around your garage or home is possible.
Installing snake-proof fencing is another option.
These barriers are made from vinyl to prevent climbing and can be sloped outward to make snakes fall off when they climb. The bottom is typically wrapped in concrete buried in the ground to prevent any gaps snakes can crawl through.
A Chemical Solution?
Chemical snake repellants can discourage snakes from entering your home, but their effectiveness is open to debate.
Most snake repellants are toxic, so be careful using them around children or pets. If you do decide to use a snake repellant, be sure to read all the directions.
Salt, vinegar, sulfur, mothballs, lye, and other concoctions do not work against snakes. These substances may also harm your kids, pets, or animals that benefit the garden.
Never Do This
It should go without saying, but never try to get rid of snakes using guns, knives, axes, or other weapons. You risk hurting or killing yourself, loved ones, bystanders, or pets.
Use a Professional Exterminator
The best thing you can do is to call your local Animal Control, pest control, or snake-removal service.
Any of these contacts will send a professional who knows how to deal with the situation. This expert can remove the animal without harming it, your pets, or anyone in your household.