Just because we live in the city, doesn’t mean we don’t share our environment with lots of different kinds of wildlife. While we don’t necessarily want that wildlife moving into your homes, some critters can be beneficial when it comes to controlling pests, especially in the garden.

Running into snakes in your garden or home can cause quite a scare. However, most of the snakes you’ll encounter here in North Texas are non-venomous. In fact, we probably scare the snakes more than they scare us! Often, snakes take care of a lot of pest problems for us and so it’s good to know the difference between beneficial and hazardous snakes.

Snakes are garden defenders

Snakes are an important part of our ecosystem. They eat small insects that could harm your plants and rodents that can invade your chicken coop or your home. If larger snakes are present in your garden, it could mean there are rodents nesting nearby. It could be a signal you should have your home inspected for rodents.

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What kinds of snakes can you expect to find?

There is a huge variety of snakes you’ll find here in North Texas, but some of the common varieties include:

The Good

Most snakes you come across here in North Texas are Garter snakes, from the Colubridae family. They are non-venomous and beneficial in the garden. There are quite a few varieties and are some of the most colorful snakes in America. Their patterns include many colors such as orange, red, turquoise, brown, gray and black.  Most often, you’ll see the small babies in the garden. There’s nothing to fear from these snakes and they’ll eat a lot of unwanted insects.

The Texas Rat snake is also very common and also non-venomous. They eat eggs, squirrels, rats, and sometimes other snakes! They can get quite big and can cause a scene if discovered in a home, attic or garden; as a defense, they’ll sometimes shake their tail in order to mimic rattlesnake behavior. They can also cop a bit of an attitude and may snap at you if they feel threatened. But, they’re one of the good guys. You should not try to kill rat snakes, simply back away and leave them alone. Color varies from dark gray to tan or reddish-brown.

Water snakes are very common in the DFW area. They are non-venomous and are not dangerous to you or your family. If you live near a creek, lake or marshy area, you may come in contact with water snakes. Their primary diet consists of frogs. Unfortunately, they are often confused for the venomous cottonmouth and are killed unnecessarily.

The Bad

While we consider all snakes a valuable part of the natural eco-system, some pose grave danger to you, your children and pets.

The Diamondback Rattlesnake: While you may not often find these venomous snakes in your landscape or home, they can sometimes make an appearance. If you do encounter a rattlesnake, back away and give us a call! These snakes are very dangerous, giving whoever they bite a large dose of venom. Plus, they can be extra aggressive when threatened.

Water moccasins do make appearances around water ways in Dallas, especially in spring. Often harmless, water snakes are confused for venomous types. How can you tell the difference between a water snake and a water moccasin? First take a look at the body shape. Water moccasins have heavy bodies, whereas water snakes have slender bodies. A water moccasin's neck is narrower than it’s head and it has a dark facial band. One of the easiest ways to tell the difference is in the eyes: Water moccasins have vertical eye pupils; water snakes have round eye pupils

There are many other snakes that live in our urban areas. Not sure if the snake in your yard is venomous? As a general rule, venomous snakes have triangular heads and jaws, whereas non-venomous snakes have more oval or spoon-shaped heads. However, if you’re not sure exactly what kind of snake you’re dealing with, keep your distance.

We offer snake removal as part of our wildlife services. If you see a snake in your garden, best to just leave it alone. But if it is venomous, or it has invaded your home, give us a call for identification and removal.

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