The Midwest may have its share of long winters, sweltering summers, and wild weather changes, but living up here has its advantages, too. For instance: we don’t really have to worry about snakes! It’s definitely too cold up here for those repugnant reptiles to live comfortably… right?

Wrong! Snakes can thrive in Michigan just as easily as they can farther south. They just have to get a little creative to keep warm during winter. Unfortunately, “creative” usually means “sneaking into a house to hibernate in comfort”. Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here today: to teach you how to keep those scary, stressful, slithering schmucks out.

eastern massasauga rattlesnake
Where Did They Come From?

There are 18 species of snake living in Michigan. Only one of them, the Eastern Massasauga, is venomous. Snakes are considerably more common in the lower peninsula than the upper, because the LP has more of the wetlands, swamps, and marshes that make up their ideal habitats. The cold-blooded reptiles hibernate in nests called “hibernaculums”, emerging only when the sun provides enough heat.

Snakes have to manage their body heat very carefully. Even though they need sunlight to keep warm and active, they can’t get too much or they’ll dry out and die. That means they need an environment with a lot of shade, vegetation, humidity, and places to cool off. Wet places like swamps provide all this, plus they tend to be great places to catch prey. If you end up with a large-scale snake infestation in your home, chances are you live near a prime habitat like a marsh or a brackish lake.  

red belly snake
Why Are They Here?

It’s all about shelter. You’ll probably start seeing snakes starting in late summer, when they get serious about finding a place to stay over the winter. The environment where snakes build their hibernaculums needs be dark, warm, enclosed, hidden, and underground. Chances are, your home’s crawl space, basement, foundation, or walls check off every single one of these boxes.

Snake infestation may be a sign that you’re hosting other pests, too. As predators, they’ll often chase prey into a home. After they move in, they’ll make themselves comfortable in the tightest, darkest, warmest, and most hidden area they can find. If you suspect you have snakes, they’re probably under floorboards or basement furniture, in tight corners, or in damaged insulation. If you’re going to look for them, be careful! Snakes are afraid of humans, and may lash out if cornered.

foundation cracks that might let snakes in
How Did They Get In?

Finally, a little good news: snakes have more limited home-infiltration options than most pests. They can’t fly, and they’re not particularly adept climbers. Unlike rodents or other burrowing pests, they don’t chew or dig through material to create their own entrances, either. If snakes got into your home, they got in from the ground. Most likely, they found a small crack in the foundation or the baseboard.

Snakes can twist and contort themselves into small spaces. Even a tiny gap between a low window and its frame can be an access-avenue. Cracking molding, baseboard, or even improperly seated doors may be vulnerable if snakes can slip underneath them. Unfortunately, it’s also possible that the legless lizards in your home were simply born there. If adults have the opportunity to reproduce in and around your home, they will.

snakes may hide in brush and tall grass
How Do I Get Rid of Them?

The best way to keep snakes out of your home is to deprive them of the things they want: food, shelter, warmth, and shade. Start outside your home. Look for sources of cover on your lawn like overgrown grass, bushes, or other vegetation. If snakes can lounge around in the shade on your lawn, they’re more likely to stick around. Next, eliminate their prey’s food sources. If you have a bird feeder, make sure food isn’t falling to the ground. Remove any leaves or fruit that fell onto your lawn from trees or bushes nearby.

Once you’ve completed your lawn maintenance, walk the perimeter of your home. Look for gaps and cracks in the foundation. Look around utility lines, windows, and any parts of the house that contact the ground directly. Seal up cracks from the outside and the inside using caulk or a similar material. After you’re done, head inside. Clean your basement thoroughly. Get organized, dust, and vacuum. Snakes thrive in cluttered environments with plenty of hiding places. Take those hiding places away.

 

Following steps like these will help snake-proof your home long term, but they may not do much to the snakes that are already around. We don’t recommend trying to take any freeloading snakes out on your own.

Luckily, you’re not on your own. You have us. Griffin has the experience and knowhow to handle any and all of Michigan’s 18 snakes, and then some! If you have a snake problem–or any other pest problem, for that matter–let us know. We’ve got your back.

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