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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Control methods for snakes

  • Author(s): Brock, Elbert M.
  • Howard, Walter E.
  • et al.

Known methods for controlling both venomous and nonvenomous snakes are discussed. Among the techniques described are exclusion of snakes from structures, use of exclusion fencing, habitat change to reduce or remove food and cover favored by snakes, and searching for and killing snakes (often when rattlesnakes or copperheads first emerge from dens in the spring). Various types of snake traps are discussed. Toxicants employed to kill snakes include nicotine sulphate in water, strychnine in eggs, and various insecticide sprays. Fumigation of burrows and dens is discussed, along with cautions to prevent nontarget hazards as well as hazards to the applicator. Several chemicals, including the insecticide DDT and others, may be effective snake repellents or can be lethal to snakes under some conditions. Miscellaneous methods include use of domestic animals (geese, ducks, chickens) that may kill and eat snakes. Bounty systems have been widely tried, but they are ineffective and subject to abuse.

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