Controlling Snakes Humanely

There’s a Snake in My Yard!

Snakes are not commonly found in residential areas, however, sometimes they get lost and end up in someone’s garden or home. When this happens, it can be a scary situation for you and the snake.

Snakes are coldblooded reptiles and are very important to our biodiversity. They are generally not aggressive reptiles and they will try to avoid humans as far as possible. They will defend themselves if they are cornered or if you try to catch them. Most snakes will give some sort of a warning sign before biting, like rearing up, spitting or hissing. A snake won’t attack unless it feels threatened.

Snakes feed on a variety of prey including mammals, birds, other reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates, which mostly live around your house and garden. Snakes also find shelter under scrap metal, wood piles, rubbish, and other debris. Keep your yard area free of possible hiding places, including tall grass and weeds which can attract prey for snakes.

When encountering a snake in your house or garden, do not kill it.

The following steps can be followed to safely remove or avoid a snake:

  • If you unexpectedly find yourself in close proximity to a snake, back away slowly or remain still as a snake’s vision is attuned to movement.
  • Some species of snake can spit, create a safe distance between you and the snake.
  • Keep an eye on the snake at all times, while someone brings you a broom and dustbin/container/box with a lid, or phone your closest SPCA or NSPCA – Wildlife Unit at (011) 907 3590.
  • Keep children, pets and other family members away from the area.
  • If you can, take a photo of the snake for identification purposes. If you don’t know the species do not take the risk in trying to catch it.
  • The best way to avoid being bitten is to guide the snake into a dark container or box with scrunched newspaper for hiding space. From there it can be safely taken to a rehabilitation centre for release.
  • Contact the NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit for the contact details of accredited rehabilitation centres across South Africa.

The Position of the NSPCA

The NSPCA is opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all snares and any trap or trapping device or substance or form of animal control which causes or may cause suffering.

The NSPCA is opposed to the use of poisons and has specific concerns about the widespread agricultural and commercial use of chemical substances which are potentially harmful to animals.