What is a snake doing in my yard?
It’s probably just passing through, either foraging for food or traveling to and from its winter den. Nearby development may also have displaced it, so it may be temporarily “lost.” Wildlife experts say that visiting snakes will generally be long gone before the experts can arrive at your home to identify or remove them. If yours is the unusual case where a snake is actually lingering, then it has found a reliable source of food, suitable shelter, or both.
Of the 12 species of snakes that live in Idaho, the four most likely to cross urban landscapes are:
- Common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
- Western terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis elegans)
- Gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer)
- Western rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
Since 2005, all of Idaho’s native snakes have been designated as Protected Nongame. That’s because they fulfill a vital ecological role, eating rodents and other pests while serving as food for raptors, coyotes, and even other snakes. (Note: Although rarely necessary, it’s still legal to kill a snake to protect your personal health and safety and to manage your property.) Read on to learn more about each of these snakes and to decide how you’ll respond to their presence on your property.