Snake In the Basement? What to Do

    Picture by Matt Frederick/Wikimedia Commons

    I've spent a lot of time in the country ... and by "country" I mean the beautiful southern California foothills. For a while I lived with my Dad up on top of a mesa, with a view of the ocean on one side and a deep canyon on the other. Sometimes in the early mornings, a mountain lion would visit our back deck.

    My close family friends have also lived in the foothills for as long as I've been alive. I spent my summers trapping lizards on their hillside. I once befriended a tarantula, named him Barney Northrup, and carried him around in my 10-year-old bare hands.

    Yes, I love me some nature. I'll cuddle with newts and kiss a frog and handle all manner of creepies and crawlies. But snakes? NO THANKS! And like me, most people want nothing to do with snakes. Which is unfortunate, because snakes sure seem to enjoy getting all up in our business. Or I should say, all up in our basement.

    Why do snakes like basements?

    Why would a snake like a basement? Well it's simple, really. Snakes try to wedge themselves into small cracks when they sleep. It makes them feel safe. And since most basements are made of concrete, snakes may confuse them for rocks and try to take refuge. Basements with ground-level windows are especially susceptible to slithering intruders. Older homes with cracked foundations are also extra vulnerable, because the snakes are drawn to the cracks. Cinderblock foundations are a problem for the same reason.

    How to get rid of a snake

    If you find a snake in the basement, the first thing you'll need to do is remove it. Do you have poisonous snakes in your area? Do you know what they look like? You may want to consider calling animal control. No, definitely call animal control or a qualified pest control expert if a poisonous snake gets into your basement. Otherwise, there are a number of easy, no-kill snake traps you can purchase. Trap-and-release is the kindest way to confront your scaly house guest.

    How to keep snakes out for good

    Once the visitor has been removed, you'll want to ensure it doesn't return. There's a couple of key things you can do to create a snake-deterrent zone:

    1) Stop them from getting in! Seal up every entrance, every hole, every under-door crack, every broken window, every loose board. Be thorough. Pay attention to pipes, because those can be entrance points as well. And remember, some snakes can climb trees, so don't put anything past them. If there's a way in, they'll find it!

    2) Stop them from needing to get in! One of the main reasons they may be wandering in is food. If you've got rodents or frogs or other delectable edibles in there, you need to attend to that problem as well. If you remove the snakes' food source, you’ll lower their incentive to trespass.

    3) Stop them from wanting to get in! Apparently, snakes really hate mothballs. So if you want them to steer clear, try a liberal dosing of nice stinky mothballs down in your basement. They'll hate it, and you’ll be happy and reptile-free.

    Remember that snakes don't mean to frighten or inconvenience you. They're just trying to go about their day and conduct their snake-y business. So extend some compassion along with your caution, and everyone'll be a-okay.

    Sayward Rebhal writes for

    Updated May 14, 2018.

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