Southern Hog-Nosed Snake Control (Heterodon simus)
Believe it or not, snakes can be great to have around. After all, they love to eat rodents! But when their populations become too large, or they move inside our homes, often something must be done. Here’s what you need to know when dealing with a possible southern hog-nosed snake on your property.
You’ll find these snakes in eastern North Carolina, south through Florida and west to Mississippi. This is a very secretive snake, and their numbers are thought to be declining.
Hog-nosed snakes are not very large; average adult size is 14-21 inches. It has a thick body and sharply upturned, pointed snout. Adults are light yellowish brown (which is sometimes tinged with orange-red), with one row of large dark blotches on the back and smaller blotches on the sides. The underside of the tail and the belly are sandy gray. There is a dark line extending from the upper jaw through the eye; their pupils are round.
Their main prey is toads, but it will also eat frogs, other lizards, and small rodents. Controlling rodent populations on one’s property is an important step towards controlling the numbers of hog-nosed snakes.
While their coloring may not be spectacular, their behavior when approached is. Hog-nosed snakes are dramatic bluffers. First, they flatten their necks and bodies so they appear to be hooded, and will hiss and rear up. This leads people to call them puff adders or hissing vipers. If this tactic doesn’t work, they go into faux death throes, thrashing about, ending belly-up and motionless. In spite of all these dramatics, they are considered to be harmless to humans.
If you’re ever bitten by a southern hog-nosed snake, make sure to get it checked out. Southern hog-nosed snakes are not venomous, but with any wild animal bite there’s a risk of infection.
Southern Hog-Nosed Snake Control
There are several steps to dealing with snake problems: making your property less inviting to snakes, which includes making your property less inviting to the rodents they feed upon; and dealing with any snakes that are already there.
Habitat Modification for Southern Hog Nosed Snakes
In wooded, rural and riparian settings where snakes are common, their presence can be discouraged by eliminating stands of tall vegetation and removing piles of rock, lumber, and debris that might attract snakes to search for prey or shelter – especially close to buildings. Closing all entrances to rodent burrows make an area less attractive to snakes. It also helps greatly if one is persistent in controlling rats, mice, and field rodents in and around residences and other buildings.
Southern Hog-Nosed Snake Exclusion
· Structural gaps and crevices larger than 1/4 inch and within three feet of grade should be closed off; snakes can pass through very small openings.
· Screens on crawlspace vents should have mesh smaller than 1/4 inch.
· A thorough search should be made for cracks in the foundation, unscreened crawlspace vents, torn screens, and gaps around basement window frames.
· Check clearances under doors; seal any gaps with weatherstripping.
· Look for improper sealing where plumbing and utility lines penetrate the foundation of the building.
Checklist for Rodent Proofing Your Home
While we can’t guarantee that you’ll never have mice or rats in your home, taking these measures will reduce your risk of having rodents – and the snakes that feed on them – move into your home.
_ Repair or replace damaged ventilation screen around the foundation and under eaves.
_ Provide a tight fitting cover for the crawl space.
_ Seal all openings around pipes, cables, and wires that enter through walls or the foundation.
_ Be sure all windows that can be opened are screened and that the screens are in good condition.
_ Cover all chimneys with a spark arrester.
_ Make sure internal screens on roof and attic air vents are in good repair.
_ Cover rooftop plumbing vent pipes in excess of 2 inches in diameter with screens over their tops.
_ Make sure all exterior doors are tight fitting and weatherproofed at the bottom.
_ Seal gaps beneath garage doors with a gasket or weatherstripping.
_ Install self-closing exits or screening to clothes dryer vents to the outside.
_ Remember that pet doors into the house or garage provide an easy entrance for rodents.
_ Keep side doors to the garage closed, especially at night.
_ Keep your trees trimmed, and your bushes and vines thinned. Make sure trees are trimmed back from the house at least 4 feet.
_ Keep lids on garbage cans.
_ Clean up all debris in the yard and storage areas.
_ Seal around your attic.
_ Don't leave pet food outside, especially at night.
_ Pick your citrus as soon as it is ripe. Remove any fallen citrus from the ground.
_ Store wood at least 18 inches above the ground and 12 inches away from walls.
_ Eliminate standing water and fix leaky faucets.
Southern Hog-Nosed Snake Removal
If you’re confident that you do indeed have a southern hog-nosed snake in your house, and you want to deal with it yourself, try this: place a trashcan on the side of the snake, and use a broom or a similar tool to gently sweep it inside the trashcan. Relocate it well away from residential areas, and seal up any openings in your house where it can get back in.
If you have any doubt about which kind of snake you have, or if you suspect several, a call to a snake control company is warranted. A good snake control company will be able to help correctly identify your snakes, advise you on further steps to take to minimize the number of snakes that move onto your property and how to keep them out of your home, will be able to present you with trapping and removal options, will be knowledgeable of all local and state laws regarding the animals, and will carry all required licenses.