How can I snake-proof my home?

Whether you live in a house, condominium, or apartment, there are several things you can do to decrease the potential for snakes to enter your living space.  Excluding snakes from buildings depends on closing or eliminating the most minute openings around windows, vents, electrical conduits, and plumbing pipes.  Snakes may be inadvertently attracted into human residences by odors that indicate the presence of potential food items.  Brown Treesnakes eat a wide variety of prey species (frogs, lizards, eggs, birds, and mammals), but are also known to respond to chemical cues from blood, raw and cooked meats, bird litter/droppings, eggs, and even milk products.  Good housekeeping and careful inspection of openings through which animals can enter are equally important to excluding rats and mice, and other odors that might attract snakes.  Pet foods should be stored in sealed containers.  Containers and wrappings from meat products, and even soiled sanitary products and diapers, should be removed from the home daily, sealed in plastic trash bags, and stored as far as possible from areas occupied by people and pets.

Snakes can be excluded from living areas by carefully inspecting and eliminating tiny spaces, holes, and cracks through which snakes might enter.  In particular all openings should be eliminated in and around the foundation, walls, and roof where water pipes, sewers, and utility cables enter or leave.  Snakes can pass through openings as small as a quarter of an inch (about the diameter of a typical wooden pencil) and hence all openings of this size or larger should be closed, filled, or covered.  Small holes can be filled with caulk or a myriad of artificial adhesives or silicone compounds.  Larger openings and holes can be screened (window screening or quarter of an inch hardware cloth), filled with aerosol foam products, covered with siding or metal sheeting or merely stuffed with plastics, cloth, or other pliable products.  Just make sure that coverings are sufficiently tight to prevent a snake from forcing its head through any wrinkle or opening.  Snakes may enter homes through drains and thus it is important to cover sewer vents on the roof with window screening or quarter of an inch hardware cloth and to reduce contact between roofs and any trees or vines that might provide rooftop access to snakes.  Particular attention should be paid to openings in walls or roofs where fresh air intakes, exhausts for kitchen fans, clothes driers, or air conditioning may provide openings in flashing, filters, or moldings that are not secure or properly placed.  Snakes can climb on any textured walls or substrates with a roughened surface, so it is important to pay attention to openings considerably above the ground and under eaves.  By sealing holes encountered on the outside of the house and also all holes in interior walls and especially those largely hidden behind major appliances, under cabinets, and in rooms where there are major plumbing fixtures, the chances of snakes entering can be significantly reduced.  Checking and insuring that flashing at the edges of doors is in place and adequately closely fitted to prevent snakes from entering are equally important.

If a snake is encountered, it can probably be easily dispatched with a blunt object such as a broom handle or a heavy object.  Alternatively, it may be possible to temporarily restrain it under an inverted trash can, or to lift it into a large garbage can and cover with a tight fitting lid.  A small snake may be extracted from under a low cabinet or other confined space with the tip of a broom handle wrapped in duct tape, adhesive side exposed.   A brown Treesnake may be safely handled once it is grasped closely behind its head, but it may be dangerous to grab or touch unidentified snakes that may be encountered.  Grabbing a brown Treesnake by the tail and quickly throwing it to an open area where it can be better controlled is easy as long as the movement is accomplished before the snake can turn and attempt to bite.  Even when mortally wounded, a snake may continue to wriggle and writhe for some time.  As long at it is incapable of coordinated locomotor movements, it need not be further bashed, hacked, or mutilated in response to random and ineffective reflex movements.  Remember, you may want someone to positively identify the snake, and the difficulty in making an identification may be increased if you pound it to an unrecognizable pulp or a multitude of pieces.