Spotting snakes near your campsite, or worse, your home, is often unsettling. The last thing that you want to come across as you walk around your yard or go to fetch some firewood is a poisonous snake.
Shade, reliable food, tall grass, and anywhere to hide will attract snakes. Eliminating those hiding spots and available food will keep snakes away. Understanding where snakes want to hide can help you know how to stop them from getting too close.
Copperheads live in the eastern United States, though they’ve been spotted as far west as Texas. Their venom is mild for poisonous snakes, but copperheads are one of the snakes most likely to bite humans.
Their bite is enough to send you to the hospital, but it is rarely fatal. Knowing what to do to keep them away will help reduce the chances you or anyone you know will get bitten.
Here are nine things that attract copperhead snakes and what you can do to keep them far away.
1. Available Food Sources
Snakes don’t eat that often, so a consistent food source that doesn’t make them work too hard is like a dream come true for a copperhead.
Rodents in or around your house will be one of the biggest things that attract copperhead snakes.
Dealing with any mouse or rat infestation quickly is key to preventing snakes from following their trail.
And these snakes aren’t only after rodents. Copperheads will chase after birds and their eggs, frogs, and other small animals that they can snack on.
Take steps to reduce the animal population around where you live to keep snakes away. If they can’t have food where you are, they are more likely to move to another place when they get hungry.
Covered areas out of the sun are where copperheads and several other types of snakes like to spend their days.
Especially when the weather is hot outside, cold-blooded snakes and other reptiles need shade to avoid getting too hot.
Snakes will hide under shed roofs, garden hoses, picnic tables, firewood, and anything else that provides decent cover.
If you live or are going camping somewhere with a lot of snakes, you should check for snakes every time you go to sit on your patio furniture.
You should also be careful when doing any outdoor chores. A snake could be resting where you intend to go.
3. Holes in Your House
Snakes don’t want to be exposed outdoors.
Ideally, they’ll find a place that’s hard for any would-be predators to get to. Copperheads and snakes frequently try to get underneath homes and into crawl spaces to escape the heat.
Typically, snakes try to find hiding places that help them avoid exposing their backs, so watch for them up against walls or in between wood beams. If you’ve got gaps between your floors and the ground, watch out for snakes that try to get under your house.
Likewise, large cracks in drywall, stucco, and other exterior surfaces can give snakes enough room to get in.
If you have a snake in a place that’s hard to reach, you’ll likely need to call for professional help to get it out.
4. Water Sources
Snakes need reliable water sources too. So, if you’ve got a fish pond or a birdbath in your yard, it will attract copperheads and any other snakes indigenous to the area.
Snakes will generally only hide around water sources if there is somewhere that gives them cover.
Keeping the grass short and moving other structures away from ponds and birdbaths will help reduce the chances any snakes try to call it their home.
5. Tall Grass
Copperheads, and plenty of other types of snakes, are always looking for a good place to hide. They want somewhere cool that will keep them out of sight of humans, birds of prey, and other potential predators.
Snakes love tall grass because they can slither around unnoticed. If they have to, they can zoom into the grass away from any threats and be gone in an instant.
If you want to prevent snakes from getting too close, only hang out in places with shorter grass. If you’re going somewhere with tall grass, then make sure you wear strong, thick boots with high ankle protection and pants to keep you protected.
6. Piles of Leaves
When autumn comes around and the leaves start to fall, you need to be more worried about copperheads than other times of the year.
Leaf piles are the perfect hiding spot for copperheads because they blend in so well. The colors match their skin pattern, making it all but impossible to see them from a distance.
Ideally, you’ll scoop up your leaves and put them into bags rather than letting them sit in your yard for days.
If you just can’t get to it, or you’re helping an elderly neighbor down the street with their leaves, you should cautiously approach any leaf pile. There could very well be a copperhead resting inside.
7. Large Rocks
Rocks, whether they’re natural rocks on a trail or landscaping rocks in your front yard, are a great spot for snakes to hide. They’re shady and provide good consistent temperatures that copperheads love.
Given a chance, snakes will squeeze into small cracks in between rocks and the ground to relax.
If you live in an area with copperheads, you should be careful about reaching under rocks. Also, warn any children in the area not to play on the rocks.
Whenever possible, keep landscaping rocks farther away from your house and keep your lawn well-kept to prevent the snakes from trying to migrate indoors.
8. Small Pets
The odds of a copperhead taking down your dog or cat are very low.
However, the presence of small animals and the scents they leave behind are sometimes enough to bring copperheads around looking for a meal.
If you leave dog dishes outside or even water bowls, you could step outside one day to see a copperhead taking a drink.
In addition, if your pet spots a copperhead, there’s a good chance they’ll get excited and try to engage the snake. As a result, your pet may end up getting bitten.
A copperhead bite can be fatal for a small pet, so you’ll need to act quickly and get them treatment as soon as possible.
9. Abandoned Areas
Overall, copperheads don’t love people. They want to be left alone and will typically go places without a lot of foot traffic.
A snake won’t nest in a home with a lot of people coming and going unless they’re desperate.
You should be most worried about places or parts of your property where you don’t go regularly. Think firewood piles, scrap heaps, or the well on the other side of your yard.
When you’re working somewhere you haven’t been for a while, you should be on guard for possible snake encounters.
The same goes for new development areas. If you build a home where snakes have lived for years, then you should expect to come across a copperhead if they’re native to your area.
Keeping Snakes Away
By far, the biggest thing you can do to repel snakes is to keep your lawn and home in good condition. Short grass and regular maintenance on your property will eliminate rodents and nesting birds, which will, in turn, keep snakes away.
Snakes are cautious animals. They usually don’t like to go places where they see a lot of humans walking around.
One of the biggest risks of encountering a copperhead is going someplace like a campsite that hasn’t seen people in a few days or coming back home after a week’s vacation.
If you do spot a copperhead, you should call the authorities to come to remove it. Trying to get rid of the snake by yourself, if you don’t have experience, could end up driving it further into its hiding place or triggering a defensive bite.