In the past couple of weeks, the Times staff has heard several stories from multiple Dorchester residents who say they've seen more garter snakes than usual this year.
The reason? Heavy rains, like last year, are ensuring taller, thicker grass. And snakes in our neck of the woods thrive in tall, thick grass.
This year, our slithering reptiles are bigger than usual. One area resident said if the snakes get much bigger, they'll soon be swallowing people's dogs and cats.
Jokes aside, we've read recent reports from the Chicago area where a snake invasion is occurring in the city's suburbs. One Chicagoland neighborhood has gone without mail delivery due to slithering sidewalks. In Wichita, snakes are invading homes due to the recent flooding.
Keep in mind that a female garter snake can have between 40 to 80 offspring per litter. So population control makes sense, no matter how many insects or mice a snake might eat.
We asked local experts what they recommend to control the local snake population. For those who want to minimize the chances of snakes in their yard -- or home -- here are the keys:
- Repellents don't seem to have good success rates, according to UNL Extension Educators.
- Keep your yard and other properties mowed short and mowed often. (Including making sure your neighbor keeps his/her property mowed.)
- Make sure there are no bunches of leaf litter or compost piles in the yard.
- Make sure there are no rock piles or wood piles in the yard.
- Getting a good cat is probably the best way to get rid of them. (Remember, this is the advice of experts, not our opinion.)
- Lava rock landscaping can sometimes reduce snakes. Snakes will not lie on new lava rock because of its sharp edges.
- Lawn mowers have proved to be the number one enemy of all snakes. We have not yet found a snake who has won a battle with a moving mower blade.