Learn powerful up to date methods from the experts that will stop Black Snakes in their tracks and get rid of them for good.
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Snakes live in a mysterious underworld that few people ever truly become comfortable with. They seem to sneak up on us when we least expect it and are gone just as fast as they appeared. Snake legends are prevalent in almost all of the ancient civilizations. The Greeks had Medusa the Gorgon with her head full of snakes, the Vikings had Jormungand the massive sea serpent whose venom ultimately killed Thor, and of course the devil himself is represented as a serpent in the Garden of Eden. With these and many other stories embedded in our collective memories, it is no secret that many people have an extreme fear of snakes.
Putting aside the irrational misunderstanding of snakes, people legitimately fear being bitten by a venomous snake. With over 100 species of snakes in the United States, there are only 4 categories of snakes that are venomous and therefore a danger to humans. These venomous snakes are all different species within 4 groups of well-known snakes, rattlesnakes, coral snakes, copperheads, and cottonmouth snakes. By knowing the snakes in your area, especially the venomous ones, you can safely deduce that any snake you meet outside of your known venomous snakes is non-venomous and therefore harmless.
People use the term black snake loosely; whatever black colored snake is most prevalent in a given area will be termed by the locals a black snake. Many snakes that we call black snakes, have distinguishing features. Snakes that are predominantly black are common, but they almost always have some feature that helps you determine a garter snake from a black racer. Below, these details will be described so that you can accurately identify and appreciate the snake calling your yard home.
Black snakes can bite, if they feel threatened and are mishandled, but most black snake bites are harmless, nothing more than a mere flesh wound. There are many different snake species which appear all black. Most of these black snakes are harmless, however sometimes an adult cottonmouth can appear all black; and a cottonmouth is certainly a dangerous snake.
Cottonmouths/water moccasins are easily distinguishable from non-venomous black snakes. Adult cottonmouth snakes, also called water moccasins, are almost always found near or in water. Cottonmouth snakes are found in coastal regions in the Southeastern United States. Young cottonmouth snakes have patterns of dark brown and tan, but as they age these patterns darken and they appear uniformly black. Unlike most non-venomous snakes, cottonmouth snakes are stout and heavy bodied, not slender and whip-like. Cottonmouth snakes have a head that is wider than its neck and body which accommodates its venom gland and fangs. Additionally, when threatened cottonmouth snakes coil their bodies, raise their heads, and open their mouths wide exposing the white interior of their mouth and fangs.
Unless you are facing down a cottonmouth, most black snakes you encounter are non-venomous.
Black Racer Snake Identification
Eastern racer snakes are found throughout much of the United States, and their appearance varies depending upon their region. Northern and southern black racers are some of the most common snakes found in the United States. Southern black racers are shiny black in color, and a speedy slitherer. In fact, a black racer can scoot along at a maximum speed of 4 miles per hour. Juvenile black racers have a blotchy pattern, but as they mature their body turns to a shiny jet black. The black racer snake’s chin and throat are white.
Their quick movements and comfort in residential plants and shrubs mean they often encounter humans along their path. Black racers are slender snakes who can grow up to 6 feet in length. Their head simply appears as a rounded extension of their body, not blocky or triangular like many venomous snakes. Black racer snakes are constrictors and lack venom. They feast upon many other critters that we consider pests such as rats, mice, toads, moles, insects, lizards, and even other snakes. Black racers are a harmless addition to the ecosystem around your home and should be left alone.
Do Black Racer Snakes Bite?
Like most cornered animals, black racers will bite. If cornered, the black racer will freeze hoping that your eye will miss him; if he thinks he has been seen, he usually flees. This speedy serpent can get away rather quickly. If cornered, the black racer may emit a foul-smelling odor to convince his attacker to back off. Yet, there are still some among our human race that simply cannot resist the temptation of picking up a snake. These are the people who get bitten. The black racer will bite if it is picked up, threatened, and scared. Thankfully, this common snake is non-venomous. While the black racer bite may be painful, it is not dangerous. Be sure to wash a black racer bite with soap and water, but that is usually the extent of treatment required.
Black Rat Snake Identification
The black rat snake is another mostly black snake that is common throughout the United States. Technically, now this snake is properly called the Eastern rat snake, but many people still refer to it as a black rat snake or a pilot snake. This snake is non-venomous and therefore not a danger to humans. Rat snakes are long and slender in appearance with a pointed snout. It is mostly black at first glance, but as you observe it more carefully, you’ll see an underlayer of scales that appear white or yellow. The black rat snake has a white or cream throat and chin. The black rat snake is differentiated by the black racer by their coloring. The black racer appears shiny and truly all black, when closely observed the black rat snake is more dull with bits of white or yellow peeking through the mostly black scales.
Rat snakes come in a variety of colors and patterns, but they have similar characteristics. In areas where different colors of rat snakes thrive, they sometimes interbreed causing surprising colorations. Black rat snakes are common throughout most of the eastern United States. It is a constrictor and therefore does not have venom. These snakes are well adapted to human dwellings and buildings. They are adept climbers and swimmers. This black snake commonly eats pests such as rats, mice, toads, frogs, lizards, and young birds.
When confronted by humans, a black rat snake prefers to run away. If it is unable to make a quick get away, a black rat snake will strike out and bite. People most often get bit when they attempt to handle a snake. A wriggling snake in the hands of a little boy is delightful in the moment, but can very likely lead to a bite. The bite of a black rat snake can be painful, but it is harmless. Wash any puncture wound with soap and water. Rat snakes are a harmless addition to our landscapes; they keep rodent populations in check and pose no real threat to people and pets.
Black Kingsnake Identification
The black kingsnake is larger than many other predominantly black snakes. It is thicker than the slender black racer and black rat snake, and often grows to be 5-6 feet in length. Black kingsnakes have shiny black scales, with yellow or white dots or thin, irregular lines sprinkled throughout its body. The black kingsnake’s belly is a black and yellow checkerboard pattern. Because it sometimes interbreeds with other kingsnakes, the black kingsnake’s coloring or pattern may be slightly different.
Black kingsnakes prefer solitude and are most often found in areas where it can avoid human contact. Look for black kingsnakes in densely wooded forests, under rock and wood piles, and thick brush near bodies of water. Black kingsnakes hunt a bit differently than other black snakes described. It ambushes prey and bites down on its head. It keeps the prey’s head pinned down and swallows its prey live. The black kingsnake’s superpower is its ability to be resistant to rattlesnake, cottonmouth, and copperhead venom. Because it safely can, kingsnakes often eat rattlesnakes. For this reason alone, the kingsnake is a keeper in my book.
Recall that black kingsnakes use their powerful jaws to keep its prey pinned down while it consumes them. Additionally, these are the same jaws that battle rattlesnakes… and win. If you pester, pick up, and harass a black kingsnake, they will bite. The bite is painful, but not as dangerous as venomous snakes. These black snakes should be left alone and permitted to peaceably perform their role within the food chain.
Black Swamp Snake Identification
Black swamp snakes are found in Florida and the coastal southern part of Georgia. They are small, slender, mostly black snakes. Most adult black swamp snakes are only 10-15 inches in length. They are primarily aquatic, found in slow moving streams and rivers, but they should not be confused with the venomous cottonmouth/water moccasin. Black swamp snakes are small and slender. They are shiny black on top, but their underbelly is bright red. These wriggling water snakes are nocturnal and feed on earthworms, small fish, frogs, and salamanders. If captured, the nonvenomous black swamp snake does not even bite. While struggling to get away, it may release a foul-smelling musk from glands at the base of its tail.
Ring-necked Snake Identification
Ringneck snakes are reclusive and rarely seen, but they are found throughout most of the United States. They are found in a variety of environments, open woodlands, wet environments, and arid areas. When viewed from above, ringneck snakes appear all black with a thin yellow line around their neck. They are slender snakes and are usually between 8-14 inches in length. Ringneck snakes were thought to lack venom for many years, but it is now known that they do have venom; their venom is very weak and does not harm healthy humans. They do not have fierce fangs like pit vipers, rather two slightly elongated teeth. They are not constrictors, rather they use their mild venom and elongated teeth to kill their prey.
From above, ringneck snakes appear almost all black with a thin ring around their neck. But on the underside, their bellies are brightly colored. Their bellies range from bright red, yellow, or orange. Ringneck snakes are most known for their defensive behavior of showing off their brilliant underbelly. When threatened they roll their body into a tight coil and elevate it. This ensures the threat sees the bright red or yellow coloring. In nature these bright colors often warn predators of danger or highly toxic venom. In this case, the bright coloring is a ruse; if captured, ringneck snakes will violently squirm and release a foul-smelling odor.
Many black snakes you encounter are perfectly harmless to humans and provide free pest and rodent extermination. However, cottonmouths or water moccasins are the exception to this general rule. Juvenile cottonmouths are not all black in color, but as they mature, their spots and patterns darken, so that when they are fully grown they are dark and almost all black in color. Adult cottonmouth snakes have a yellow or cream colored facial stripe that forms a band around their eyes.
Cottonmouths are pit vipers and their venom is extremely dangerous to humans. To easily distinguish a cottonmouth/water moccasin from other black snakes, here are a few keys:
Cottonmouth snakes are very wide or stout, not slender and trim like many other black snakes.
Cottonmouth snakes have vertical elliptical pupils like a cat, where nonvenomous black snakes have round pupils.
Cottonmouth snakes have a round pit organ between their nostrils and eyes, where nonvenomous black snakes do not.
Cottonmouth snakes have a wide blocky head with an obvious neck, where most nonvenomous black snakes’ heads are much more narrow.
When threatened, cottonmouth snakes tend to coil their body and open their mouths wide exposing their fangs and the vast white interior of their mouths.
Snake identification is tricky business. If you think you are picking up a black racer, but it is actually a fully grown cottonmouth, the results can be devastating. Most snakes should be left alone to conduct their business in peace.
How Do Professional Wildlife Control Officers Get Rid of Snakes?
There are many species of snakes in the United States, and only 8 species are venomous and therefore dangerous to humans. If a snake gets indoors or if you have a snake in your yard, the chances are good that it is one of the many harmless snakes. When we get your snake call, your snake situation becomes our priority. Not only can we get rid of the snake that is threatening your peace and security, we can show you how to prevent snakes in the future.
If you have a snake inside your home, our first priority is to remove the snake as quickly and safely as possible. If you are sure the snake is non-venomous, sometimes people can remove the snake themselves. If you cannot identify the snake, leave it alone and call a professional service like Nextgen Pest Solutions. If the snake is coiled up in the corner near the sliding glass door, open the door and sweep it out. Sometimes the simple act of giving the snake an escape route will get it to leave. If you have nerves of steel, you can cover the snake with a trash can or a sturdy box. Keeping it covered will prevent it from slithering off into other rooms in the house or under the bed. The snake can remain trapped under the box while you await a professional’s help, or you can attempt to remove it yourself. Keep the snake covered and slide a strong board underneath the box. If you can slip this under the snake you can turn it upside down and now you have the snake in a covered box.
When Nextgen Pest Solutions Wildlife Removal Officer arrives, we will immediately remove the snake from the premises. We have the necessary equipment and experience to get rid of the snake and restore the peace to your home. After the urgent business is taken care of, we can also take a look around your home and give you tips and tricks to prevent snakes in the future.
How To Prevent Snakes In Your Yard and Home
If you are surprised by snakes in the garden more often than you are comfortable with, there may be some simple environmental changes that you can implement that will reduce the snakes in your area. When a customer complains of chronic snake sightings, that usually means their home or yard is providing snakes with food and shelter/harborage. By addressing these issues, snakes can usually be reduced in an area.
The basis for all Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a thorough inspection by a knowledgeable technician. Our technicians are trained to look for openings around your home, signs of snake food availability, and areas that may be offering shade and shelter to snakes. When you work with our team, we provide ongoing advice on how to create an unfavorable habitat around your home for snakes.
One of the main reasons snakes are plentiful in your yard is you have plenty of food for them. Rodent control is central to snake control. Nextgen Pest Solutions’ rodent control program will starve the snakes out of your yard. Sometimes, our inspection reveals holes or passageways into your home. By sealing these holes, you can prevent not only snakes, but rats, squirrels, birds, bats, and racoons from entering your home.
Habitat Modification to Reduce Snakes
Habitat modification can be very successful in reducing the number of snakes in your yard. Snakes most often prefer to be hidden, either by tall grasses or shrubs, rock piles, wood piles, or other yard clutter. Clean up extraneous yard debris and keep the wood pile as far from the house as practicable. To prevent snakes, keep the grass, trees, and bushes trimmed and tidy. While bird feeders invite colorful singing songbirds to your yard, they also invite squirrels and other rodents to the party. Many snakes consider birds, squirrels, rats, and mice that feast upon your feeder’s offerings to be a meal. Clever serpents learn to seek shelter near a feeder so that they can easily eat when they get hungry. Additionally, if you leave pet food outside, you not only draw stray cats, but all the critters that snakes deem an appropriate meal. By making some simple changes to your landscape and habits, you diminish snakes in your yard.
Getting Rid of Black Snakes
As previously described most black snakes are harmless. They act as nature’s organic and most cost-effective rodent control. However, many people simply cannot bear the idea of being surprised by black racers or black rat snakes as they garden or play a friendly family game of football. Call Nextgen Pest Solutions today, to have our experts inspect your home and yard and implement a snake prevention and elimination program.