Menu

Scales and Tales

6 Ways to Entice Snakes Onto Your Property

Mojave Rattlesnake Mojave Rattlesnake


We recently responded to a question about the rattlesnake population in the Black Hills. Part of the question asked if people could take steps to actually reduce that population.

As we explained, this perception of a snake population increase is mistaken, so there really isn't an overpopulation issue.

Even if there were, it's somewhat difficult to locate snake dens without quite a bit of foot-work. Even if you did locate it, your options are truly limited. There is no way to truly eradicate a population of snakes. There may even be several dozen den sites within a 4-5 mile search area, some of which you just won't find.

Here in the Black Hills there are many places for snakes to den, the population in any one given den site is usually less than 100. Though in large den sites on the prairies, populations of several hundred are not uncommon. This is due to lower numbers of suitable denning sites being available.

Snake Eradication


There was a government eradication program for rattlesnakes in the early 1900's through the 1970's, and one place they hit hard was up on the South Dakota/North Dakota border. For over 10 years the government tried every method imaginable to eradicate this particular den site: pit fall traps, gasoline, guns, bounties...I can only imagine how many thousands of snakes were destroyed in that time frame.

I travel to that den site every fall just for fun, and to this day, I can go there and remove dozens and dozens of rattlesnakes in a matter of hours. Short of a bunker buster bomb courtesy of Ellsworth Air Force Base, it is just not likely that any great reduction of the numbers of rattlesnakes in a given den site is likely to occur.

However, if you want to decrease snake activity on and around your property, there are some steps you can take.

Keeping Snakes Away


There's nothing we can really do to actually repel snakes, but there are certain things you can do to at least make your property less hospitable for them.

I had a rattlesnake in my yard last year, first one in 7 years living there. I have small children, a dog, and cat, so obviously I don't want them in my yard either. I simply caught it and moved it away from the house. My kids are also hyper-aware of snakes, just because of who dad is. Knowing that snakes are generally nomadic and only stay in an area as long as the food, water, shelter and mates are available, I took a look at my property and figured out why that particular snake was there and fixed it.

Here are some things you can do:

  1. Keep the grass cut low

  2. Remove rock piles, woodpiles, trash piles and other rubbish

  3. Keep shrubbery trimmed up from the ground

  4. Fill in foundation cracks

  5. Rid the yard of rodent and insect populations

  6. Always watch where we sit, stand, walk and place our hands


But, even when all precautions are taken we need, keep in mind that snakes are native to this area. Although (to me at least), having a few rattlesnakes, bees and mountain lions is a much better proposition than the smog, traffic and crime of the big cities


Back

Planning a visit to Reptile Gardens?
Sign up to receive great stuff right in your inbox!

Close

Activities

Main Exhibits

Shows

Shops

Close

Animals

Snakes

Other Reptiles

Amphibians and Bugs

Native to South Dakota

Close

Botanical Gardens

Indoor

Outdoor

Close

About Us

Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing or go on a 3D safari. Our very own old west ghost town as numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with some of the most exotic birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!