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managing/avoiding snakes

 
Margie Nieuwkerk
Posts: 50
Location: Bulgaria, Zone 7/8
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I'm in Bulgaria in an agricultural area. There are lots of snakes here, most are ok, there are only 2 truly venomous snakes and one of those lives in the mountains, I am in the plains/pasture hills area. The snake that worries me is the adder. I don't particularly like snakes, but do understand they belong to the ecosystem and respect their place. Even the adder. But I'm worried about being bitten by one and would like to avoid this.

I'm planning out my half acre field and want to apply permaculture principles. However, in researching on the net the remedies are to get rid of wood piles, brush, low growing shrubs and high grasses or other plants, and to "mow frequently" and not have open water nor compost piles. Just so you know, I've got an open barn stacked with wood, of various sizes. I've got a nice big compost pile complete with fruit and vegetable scraps. And I don't want mowed lawn. And I want a lush forest orchard garden with lots of plants. And straw mulch.


There are numerous snake repellent products on the market, however I understand these do not work, nor does sulfur work, nor do marigolds or wormwood work and mothballs are, of course, definitely not to be used.

I do have 4 cats who largely handle the mice and rats, and occasionally even the odd small snake. And I have a large dog. No chickens and chicken food to attract creatures that snakes might enjoy.

How do some of you handle this in the USA? I understand you have rattle snakes and water moccassins which are very poisonous so many of you must be having to consider this as well? Or have you found a method to keep them away?
 
Jon Kennedy
Posts: 26
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Hi Margie
Hmmmmm well it sounds like your wood pile is the biggest problem. But in the midwest usa. I can only think of two things, one cats, and two dogs.
Alot of farmers use there dogs to help then identify the snakes presence.these dogs are usually cattle working dogs like border collies or australian shepherds.
And the dog will usually get bitten if it dosnt have the intelligence to just bark. . So plan on losing that dog if there isnt a vet close. The rattlesnake , water moccassins , and copperheads are the main poisinous snakes here in the usa as you said, and generally the rattlesnake , also known as the gentleman of snakes will rattle before striking, although that is not always guaranteed. Im not familar with the Adder,although i have heard its an extremly dangerously snake.
I emailed a friend in Australia and him , since it is my belief that australia has a very large number of extremely dangerous snakes , and he suggested something that is supposed to repel snakes, "the vibrator" He didnt have a brand name, but did say thats what there called. Possibly you could search on the net..


But cats and dogs are the only prevention and or alerts i know of besides keeping your varmit population down, which the cat should do for you. Keep the grass short, leave piles out of the lawn and wood piles off of the ground.
Best wishes on your search
Jon
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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I live in aus 2days ago i trod on a red bellied black snake whilst planting trees we neither wanted anything to do with the other and went our seperate ways
I usually like to wear long boots/ pants/ gloves
Snakes arnt wanting to hurt you more people around the world die from rat bourne diseases eg salmonella, than snakebite (snakes eat rats)
Bass music and or peacocks are excellent deterrents
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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From my experience, most people are not fond of snakes, but no snakes are fond of people.
They fear you more than you fear them.

When walking through suspected snake territory, make noise (whistle, sing, whatever).
If in tall grass/brush, carry a walking stick, and swing it ahead of you, beating the foliage.
You do not want to startle a snake, you want him to know that a human is approaching him...
...he should run (unless protecting a nest). A frightened snake is a dangerous snake.
He should slither away long before you see each other.

Do a bunch of research on the regional species, and learn their habits.
(Wikipedia probably is a good place to start + follow the links at the bottom of the page for more info.)
The more you know about them, the less chance of an ugly encounter.

And, obviously, don't wander around in shorts & sandals when in their territory.
 
Jay Green
Posts: 587
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The only preventative is to be careful when you are working your place. We always carry tools when working, so prodding likely places with your rake, hoe, brush hook, etc. before you place your hands and feet in these areas is always wise.

Getting some canvas snake chaps or shin guards to wear while working your place and some sturdy leather boots.

You can't really expect to repel all snakes in the area and most animals won't approach a poisonous snake unless it's a baby...my chickens will eat baby snakes and many other types of fowl will also. The only thing you can do consistently is use good common sense when working outside, kill all the poisonous snakes you encounter, encourage the non poisonous snakes that are the natural enemies of your poisonous snakes, let your cats stay outside all the time to consistently remove the food supply of the snakes~rodents~from the area.
 
Sheila Nyomo
Posts: 6
Location: Missoula, Montana
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We used to have more snakes around here until a lot of people developed the land around us. I think one of our neighbors burned a snake den durring the winter. We get the occasional snake around now and then, mostly garter but sometimes we get a rattler. Our cats usually catch the snakes and leave them on our porch. We also keep the grass short around our house and pathway, we also take out any knapweed along the road because they hide beneath it.
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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A few other thoughts:

1. Make nice wide paths, 8-10 foot mains and 4-6 foot branches. Keep to the centers to help minimize contact areas. Snakes in the middle of the path are easy to spot and snakes on the edges will have plenty of space to not feel threatened enough to get defensive.
2. Run pigs. Pigs eat snakes too.
3. Minimize attractors: Doesn't sound like you have much but make sure you are not attracting rats, mice etc., the sorts of things the snakes are feeding on.
4. Create a place for the snakes...but do it with thought and intention. Find the portion of your property least used and farthest away from well used areas and create habitat that will draw in the snakes. Snakes are also generally territorial so it is not like you will attract in snakes that were not already there. Some water, a nice big rock pile (lots of spaces to hide in and some flats for sunning on) and lots of low growing shrubs. By nature snakes are very solitary and secretive and prefer not to have contact with other living things except for reproduction and feeding purposes; so they will naturally be drawn away from areas of high traffic if these other wild areas exist.
5. Chickens - maybe bantams and set it up so they forage 100% of their food, but chickens will alert to snakes.
6. Figure out what the snakes largest predator is in your area and create habitat for them. This is last as it can be hit or miss. Most agricultural areas are so damaged that the top predators no longer exist or exist in so small numbers that no benefit is gained from trying to attract them. But do the research you might find just the opposite that the major predator is alive and well and just needs a bit of encouragement to see real results.

Good luck,

Jeff
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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Isnt it the year of the snake soon
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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snakes don't really have ears, they sense vibration. Thats why using hiking sticks works so well in the desert of USA. Stomp your feet when walking into cover.

the vibrator needs to be a pounder, think rickety windmill, with beer cans tied onto end to slap the ground.

snakes very sensitive to scent, so citronella oil can work. we have a spray for dogs, that is supposed to work as snake deterent too. Not good to spray em when they are trapped, overwhelms em, and they can't get away. but is supposed to keep em off the porch, etc.

Rockpile in the right place is a good idea. and will give you a reservoir of hunters if the mice move in during harvest time...
 
Bill Bianchi
Posts: 227
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Find out what non-venomous snake eats the poisonous ones. Never kill one of those on your property. They take time to grow big. During that time they will become used to seeing you around the place and won't get too upset if you come close.

Black snakes tend to keep venomous snakes away here on the East coast. We have several large black snakes on our property that we never harm. If we have to move them out of our way we gently use a rake handle to move them. Jake The Snake is our biggest one. He's over 5' long. Jake says, " Copperheads and water moccasins, they're what's for dinner."
Jake doesn't even flinch when we have to step over him when he's laying across the path to the barn. He's like a pet, though a pet we never pet with bare hands.

We have not seen a venomous snake on our property in over a decade. Black snakes are either good luck charms or they eat venomous snakes. Either way, we want them here.
 
Judith Browning
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Posts: 5543
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Copperheads...I was cutting some nice sweet clover around a peach tree, laying it down and then ashing the base of the trunk for bore prevention, sickling some more by grabbing a hand ful then cutting low when I saw the tail end of the copperhead leaving. It seems early this year but I probably say that every year. For me this is the downside to polyculture lush close growth and I haven't figured out a way around it. They are timid snakes and unless cornered you almost always only see them leaving...but it ruined my peaceful morning in the garden (and the snakes too, i imagine).
 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Hi Margie
I've been bit by an Adder and did all the wrong things tried to suck the venom out etc ended up in hospital for ten days as it turns out i am allergic to the venom.
I was trying to save the créature from the attentions of some boys oh well
I also had a dog that would admise me were one was in the garden or when out on a walk.
I was living in the North Pennies at the Time in England. For most people in the UK they are just like a very Bad bée sting unless you have an allergy And there has not been a death since the 1920's when a toddler was bit in the neck. At least thats what they told me at the time I was in hospital. It was so rare to have someone in the hospital doctors And nurses came from miles around to see me And take photos.
At least they let me Watch the cricket on TV
David
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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If you would consider a dog, cairn terriers might be the kind you want. They are specifically bred to find snakes. I knew an elderly, deaf, nearly blind cairn terrier with arthritis that was a genius at finding snakes and pointing them out to people. Remarkable dogs.
 
Adam Poddepie
Posts: 68
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I actually know a few methods!! The only problem is that I don't know if it's an available solution for your location. In the Midwest (USA) we have cattle grazing on our land seasonally. When they start up each spring, the cattle are herded back and forth across the land to push the snakes out into a nearby body of water (as a favor to some of the permanent inhabitants of the farm). The snakes that don't run in fear are trampled! So if you know someone who needs some grazing ground (temporarily) you might give that a try. Plus, cow manure is really good for tomatoes.

The other option is to find a falconer, but that's kind of a solution with lots of holes in it. On the farm, owls hunt snakes and drop them onto either the electric fence, or the further out barbed wire fence. They have very good aim, I might add. So, these could cut down on the problem, but I'm not sure that either is a permanent solution. Best bet might just be to get a couple of really tough barn cats.
 
Peri Ledo
Posts: 15
Location: southern Spain
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I´m building a rabbitry and a chicken coop. Considering some housing for pigs too... And I can´t see a way around snakes. I think I know how to handle foxes, cats and wild hogs pressure, but no idea what to do with snakes, as I will be attracting them by keeping rabbits. Does anybody here know if rabbits, when in a big number will attack as snake? If one or two rabbits are lost, or a whole litter of them, I could take it, but the idea of loosing them all, like can happen with foxes is giving me the chills
 
Andrew Ray
Posts: 162
Location: Slovakia
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Margie Nieuwkerk wrote:I don't particularly like snakes, but do understand they belong to the ecosystem and respect their place. Even the adder. But I'm worried about being bitten by one and would like to avoid this.


As someone else said, research and understand the snake. And always keep a watch where you put your hands. I have heard (from a family with a homestead in Alabama) that peacocks kill snakes, even water moccasins, copperheads, and rattlesnakes, and thus that family keeps peacocks all around.

I moved from Georgia, USA to Slovakia. There is one poisonous snake here (viper berus) which I think is the same species as the adder you have in Bulgaria. For this one fatalities are extremely rare, so it helped me worry less. Chvalu Bohu, I then read that they only live (in Slovakia) above 600m elevation-- I hope its true, our village is at 200m.

But always keep eyes open. I lost my balance in the barn and stuck out a hand against the wooden wall (where there was a bit of a ledge from a board nailed across it) and touched a snake stretched there. Poisonous or not (and probably not) I almost died from the shock! And dogs aren't neccesarily going to notice them either-- I was walking quickly through the grass and almost stepped on a snake slithering away, my dog (on a leash) having not noticed it at all.

But mostly educating oneself helps put the (relatively) weak venomous snakes of Europe into perspective-- the sort of "OK, if worse thing happens and it turns out that there is a viper berus here, and I get bitten, then its extremely unlikely I'll die, especially as I can get to the hospital in a decently recent time". If I lived in say the SW U.S. (worse snakes than Georgia or Florida) or Australia or Africa... I would probably just be terrified, and not go outside without a loaded, cocked shotgun aimed always a couple of feet in front of where I stepped. But here in Europe, there just isn't a good reason to fear too much...
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Peri Ledo wrote:Does anybody here know if rabbits, when in a big number will attack as snake? If one or two rabbits are lost, or a whole litter of them, I could take it, but the idea of loosing them all, like can happen with foxes is giving me the chills


Rabbits, in my experience, use the "run away fast" technique when dealing with predators. I've never heard of them attacking another creature, although if enough of them are in close quarters rabbits will attack each other.

The good thing is, snakes are cold blooded and lay eggs and so need to eat much less than warm blooded lactating critters like foxes. Even a big snake doesn't have to eat every day. Snakes will not clear a rabbitry out. Around here the raccoon, hawk, fox or coyote will pick them off one by one but a fisher will massacre the whole henhouse or rabbitry in one night. The snakes we have here don't eat my small livestock.
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 698
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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We had a lot of very poisonous snakes recently. A strange thing happened to both of the kids, they were thinking of snake and then saw one.
One was a copperhead (I'm not sure weather the US copperhead is the same).
I think it is as easy as that: wear closed shoes and long pants. Walk slowly when you go into a new area. Stomp. Don't touch anything what you can't see or turn stones around. Otherwise do worry much more when you cross the road because that is more dangerous, because of the two legged animals in cars.
 
Andrew Ray
Posts: 162
Location: Slovakia
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Another suggestion-- don't read about, think about, post onto forums about snakes at night before going to bed. Otherwise your imagination will treat you to "nice" dreams of Viper Berus lined streets!
 
Patricia Maas
Posts: 13
Location: Central New Mexico
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I'm wondering if anybody has had experience with bull snakes going after eggs and young poultry. I've had to really keep after the bull snakes as they go after goslings, goose eggs and the chicken eggs and chicks. Not just one, they will take them all if they get a chance. To add insult to injury, they stop going after rodents. I do have rattle snakes, but they the ones here typically will get one or two chicks a year and usually the older poultry will prevent consumption.
Suggestions?

Located in central NM, Estancia Valley
 
Paul Ewing
Posts: 127
Location: Boyd, Texas
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We used to have a lot of snakes, but now we have a flock of about 20 or so guinea fowl. They keep the snakes and grasshoppers down in the five or so acres around the house. I am thinking about getting another 100 or so to let loose in the farther pastures to keep down the hoppers in the summer.
 
Patricia Maas
Posts: 13
Location: Central New Mexico
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Thank you Paul, I will be adding guinea fowl this year. Am also looking at peacocks. Don't mind the noise from either.
Part of the problem has been having the chickens and geese in or near the barn where the sparrows also nest. This is an old barn that was filled with trash for years until I came along. Thinking a separate place for the poultry would be a good thing.
Thank you again.
 
Rich Pasto
Posts: 100
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Hawks.

build at least on T shaped perch on your property. 6-8 feet tall. two if you have room. Hawks love a place to perch and look for prey. People I know have used this for controlling rats, rabbits, mice and voles.With very good results in colorado.
 
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