Snakes found in New York

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Hopefully the warmer weather is here to stay which means, snakes may start spearing around homes and gardens. There are 17 species of snakes found in New York State—three are venomous, most are rarely seen. Snakes are carnivorous and swallow their prey whole dining on everything from earthworms, slugs and insects to small birds, mammals, frogs, salamanders, fish and even other snakes. While most of New York’s snake species kill prey by seizing them with their jaws and swallowing them whole, a few species, such as the black rat snake and milk snake, may kill by wrapping their body around the prey to constrict it.

Most snakes found around homes are seeking food, shelter or mates and will move on if they can’t find what they are looking for. It is common to find snakes in a neighborhood after their habitats are lost to development. While most snakes prefer to retreat or hide quickly when approached by people, many will strike at larger prey or threatening humans. Except for the venomous species, snakes’ teeth are quite small and hardly able to break a person’s skin.

Where are snakes found?

This time of year snakes are often found in cool and damp areas. Snakes can be found in stacked firewood, lumber piles, mulch, shrubs/bushes, gardens, tall grass, garages, sheds, attics and cluttered areas to name a few.

How to prevent snakes?

A snake repellent can be applied around the perimeter of a structure or lawn to discourage snakes from entering. Locating a snake once it has made its way inside a structure can be difficult, so it is best to prevent snakes from getting inside. Sealing up holes and entry points will prevent snakes and rodents from getting inside. Snakes feed on rodents, so an absence of rodents with rodent removal will be beneficially as well.

New York is home to several species of snakes. Distinguish a venomous snake from a harmless one by the shape of a snake's head. Venomous snakes have broadly triangular heads; however, nonvenomous species can flatten and widen their heads when provoked. No matter what, contact a professional to remove a snake. Do not attempt on your own.

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