By Eric Brotman
RVer Tim Slack emailed us recently from Arizona with a question we hadn’t heard before: “Are there any reasonable ways to keep snakes away from the vicinity of an RV? I’m generally pretty fond of snakes, but we’re in rattlesnake territory lately and yesterday had a 3-foot diamondback heading for our cat in her outdoor playpen. When I disturbed its slithery stalk, it coiled up right under our entry steps!”
Tim had been told Boogey Lights (stringed LED decorative lights) around the area might help, or encircling the perimeter of his site with a rope the rattlers would mistake for another snake and not cross.
Neither of those methods would do much good, according to Bob Myers, Director of the American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Keep in mind snakes are shy creatures that do their best to avoid confrontation with larger animals,” said Myers. “A diamondback would probably not stalk a cat, as cats can be vicious killers and are much larger than a rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes prefer to stalk small prey. What looked like stalking to Tim was more likely the snake wanting to go from point A to point B and the cat pen just happened to be along the way.
“Other than digging a moat filled with kerosene around your RV, I can’t think of any guaranteed way to keep rattlesnakes away from your vehicle. But there are things you can do to lessen the chance of attracting them.”
RVers can most effectively avoid rattlers by removing any spilled food from their site. Pet food and birdseed attract rodents and birds, both of which top the list of rattlesnakes’ preferred prey. “Rattlesnakes rely on their sense of smell the way humans rely on their sense of sight,” said Myers. “They can follow rodent trails and sometimes will sit on them to wait for rats to return.”
Avoiding heavy ground cover and brush is also important, as such terrain can provide hidden refuge for snakes.
If you walk your dog in rattlesnake territory, think about having him vaccinated in advance by a veterinarian. The vaccination might lessen the effects of a bite, should one occur.
Don’t worry needlessly about baby rattlers. Despite a persistent belief that baby rattlers are more toxic than adults, Myers said the opposite is true. “Young snakes are potentially a meal for predators. They are more defensive than adults, but a baby rattler has only 1/30th to 1/50th the volume of venom to inject, compared to an adult.”
Myers recalled a young boy who picked up a baby rattlesnake and held it in front of his face. The snake bit him right between the eyes, but the boy suffered only swelling and discomfort.
“The truth is,” said Myers, “approximately one person in a thousand bitten by a rattlesnake will die.”
Question I’m moving into a 28 foot 5th wheel and
Own 7 pet Guinea pigs are they in danger living where a snake could get in ? The location is Mojave desert outside rosamond ca
There is a product al SNAKE-A-WAY I picked up several years ago I believe at a Ace Hardware. Web site is repell.com.
Advertised as university tested, but doesn’t say which university. Supposedly good for all kinds of snakes.
Manufactured by Dr. T’s Nature Product. 800-299-6288.
The only thing I can verify is that I have had this container in my garage for several years and have not seen any snake.
This product does work in 2013 we had found (6) Rattlesnakes on our property. Since using it every year starting in March thru October (always reapply after a rain) NO more snakes. Just last week my husband killed a 3 foot rattlesnake in the neighbors garage. They now will start using this product. There are different brand names but basically all work the same.
I always found a 410 or larger gauge of shotgun round will dissuade snakes from entering my camp area permanently.
another comment this time from a conversation with a homeowner who tends a small plot in his backyard that borders a walk/bike path and a small stream that has snakes. I asked how he can feel comfortable plunging his hands into the crops and not being too concerned about the snakes. His answer was too border the plot with lime which will burn the snake’s skin.
another story about snakes this time from a conversation with an old farmer who tends a small plot in the South Carolina Low Country. I was passing by his property one day ( I was walking along a walk/bike path that also bordered a small stream that was known for the snakes. I asked the farmer how he could tend his garden without fear of the snakes hiding in the growth. He said the one thing that he does is keep a constant border of lime around the small plot. The lime supposedly will burn their skin if they slither through or over it.
Have heard that lion poop spread around your site will deter all animals from crossing it. Maybe it will, but finding it when you need it could be daunting and I for one am not following a lion around waiting for it to poo so I can get some.
My brother-in-law from North Carolina has told the story about the baby snakes being more dangerous than the adult snakes. However I do know he was talking about some other snake than a rattle snake.
So to take the story a step further – are any baby snakes more dangerous than (from their poison – word is that they can’t control the amount of poison injected and so the problem) rattle snakes?
Copperhead baby (and young) snakes are more dangerous than the adults, in the fact that they are born with high quanity of poison, which they cannot control. Even adult Copperheads are more dangerous than Rattlesnakes…Copperheads have a negative reaction to humans….meaning they are very aggressive snakes. I was raised near and in the Smokies and there are so many there…