Most people have limited knowledge of rattlesnakes and their behavior, the dangers of living in an area with rattlesnakes, and how to be safe when they are present. We hope our answers to the most common snake questions we receive will help you better understand rattlesnakes and how to protect yourself and your family.
YES! But this depends on several factors including the type of snake you want to exclude.
Rattlesnakes are relatively easy to exclude pending your rattlesnake fence is installed correctly and consists of the proper materials. Baby rattlesnakes can enter through openings larger than ¼ inch; therefore, fencing should comprise a solid barrier or ¼ inch mesh.
Some snakes are excellent climbers such as gophersnakes, kingsnakes, and racers, and the best fence may only act as a deterrent for these species. Although the thought of having any snake in your yard may be disturbing, these snakes are nonvenomous and beneficial to have around as they prey on problem rodents and occasionally young rattlesnakes. Other species including sharp-tailed snakes and ring-necked snakes are pencil thin, rarely measuring greater than 18 inches in length, and can get through the smallest of openings.
Not to fret, they feed on snails, slugs, and other garden pests. That being said, snake fencing is the only sure way to keep rattlesnakes off your property, so visit a reputable snake fencing company today… oh, wait! That’s us! Spread the word!
While it’s not clear how often snakes visit residential areas, we are certain that homes located adjacent to open space encounter rattlesnakes with some degree of regularity. A recent study conducted by the USGS Southwestern Biological Science Center near Montezuma Castle National Monument north of Phoenix, Arizona, documented seven radio-tagged western diamond-backed rattlesnakes visiting residences unbeknownst to the property owners; one of which settled in for an afternoon nap one meter from their front door. So, it’s safe to say that snakes visit far more often than we see them by happenstance.
Rattlesnakes are also creatures of habit. That being said, there are actions you can take to discourage unannounced visits from unwanted slithering guests ranging from installing physical barriers such as fencing to removing habitat features that attract snakes to your property. Visit our safety webpage on Tips for a Snake-Free Yard.
 Nowak, E.M., T. Hare, and J. McNally. 2002. Management of “Nuisance? Vipers: Effects of Translocation of Western Diamond-Backed Rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox). Biology of the Vipers (G. W. Schuett et al., Editors, 2002, Eagle Mountain Publ., Eagle Mountain, Utah.
Snake proofing a fence is all about securing any and all access points. Snakes tend to travel along linear features such as fence lines and the foundation of houses. This provides the snake a measure of protection from predators and a safe place to warm themselves in the morning or a cool retreat during the afternoon.
When they encounter an opening, it is an invitation to enter. Snake proofing places a barrier across these openings, thereby denying access to your property. Attention should be given to the base of fences where spaces or gaps occur between the bottom of the fence and the ground, gaps between fencing slats, and openings around gates, doors, garage doors, and the point of attachments to houses. Exclusion fencing should extend at least 30-inches above ground, be buried or keyed-in 6-12 inches, and be made of a solid material or mesh with openings no larger than a ¼-inch.
Visit our safety webpage on Fence Industry Standards.
No, rattlesnakes do not always rattle as a warning. Their first line of defense is camouflage. If they do not feel threatened, they may remain quiet and motionless. Occasionally, a startled rattlesnake may strike defensively before it has time to rattle. As an ectotherm (cold-blooded reptile), cold weather may also impair a rattlesnake’s ability to rattle effectively.
Lastly, while rattles typically grow in size with every shedding event (termed ecdysis), rattlesnakes may also temporarily or permanently lose their rattles from an injury, attacks by predators, movement over harsh terrain or other natural processes. For these reasons, never assume that a rattleless rattlesnake is safe or will not strike if provoked. It’s good practice to be vigilant when hiking, playing or working near rocky or brushy areas.
Generally speaking, no. Rattlesnakes are poor climbers. They are heavy-bodied, ambush hunters adapted for life on the ground. A good rule of thumb for estimating the height rattlesnakes can climb is ½ of their body length.
Rattlesnakes can climb easily accessible tree branches and small shrubs; however, they cannot climb smooth or lightly textured surfaces such as walls and fences. The best way to keep rattlesnakes from climbing your fence is to keep vegetation, rocks, small woody debris and other objects clear from the fence.
We recommend maintaining at least an 18-inch walkway around the outer perimeter of your fence line. Some species such as whipsnakes, gophersnakes, and kingsnakes are great climbers and will exploit any ledge, structure, vegetation, or texture to climb. They have even been known to climb the stucco siding on houses.
The best option is to install a snake-proof fence. A well-designed and professionally installed snake fence is the single most effective method for keeping snakes off your property. But a more important question is why are snakes attracted to your yard?
Snakes are driven by their biology and seek out the basics – food, water, shelter, and mates. Simple steps can be taken to reduce access to these features including keeping your yard free from clutter and debris, keeping vegetation trimmed, controlling rodent populations, wearing leather gloves when handling brush or debris, picking up fallen fruit under fruit trees, and not leaving out food or water that may attract rodents and in turn, rattlesnakes.
In all, maintaining a clean, clutter-free yard goes a long way to keeping rattlesnakes away. Visit our safety webpage on Tips for a Snake-Free Yard.
The cost depends on a variety of factors including the product you’re installing, type of fence it will be attached to, ground topography, substrate, drainage features, amount of vegetation clearing required, quality and age of gates, and obstructions along the fence line that may hinder installation.
Prices generally range from $7/linear foot (LF) to over $25. Typically, clients choose to attach hardware cloth or Animex™ fencing to their existing fence. This is the most cost effective method. However, some prefer to replace their existing fence with a well-designed wood, vinyl, aluminum, or stone fence that lacks openings which allow access for snakes. These options can cost anywhere from $20-$65/LF depending on the material and design.
One factor that homeowners should consider regardless of the type of fence selected is installing a subsurface barrier that runs 6-18 inches below ground to discourage animals from burrowing under the fence. The best fence will not effectively exclude snakes if critters, including our trusted canine companions, dig holes under the fence. And once a snake enters your yard they may have a difficult time finding the exit. Attention should also be given to regular inspections and maintenance.
The often repeated convention is that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous because they have not yet learned to regulate how much venom they inject during a bite; the “go big or go home” approach. Research has shown this not to be the case, but even if it were true; the amount of venom a baby snake can generate is very little compared to that of a fully-grown snake.
By comparison, adult rattlesnakes deliver 20-50 times the amount of venom than baby rattlesnakes. Venom composition also changes as the snake ages as the increase in the size of a snake leads to a shift in the prey that is consumed meaning young rattlesnakes prey more on smaller prey such as lizards and frogs, whereas older snakes feed more on rodents.
The severity of a snakebite is determined based not only on the amount of venom but also by the composition of the venom, location of the bite, species of snake, and the physiology and medical history of the person bitten. The take-home message is that a bite from an adult rattlesnake is likely to be more life threatening and cause more tissue damage, but a bite from a baby rattlesnake should not be treated lightly. Although they have less venom, their bite requires immediate medical treatment.