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How to Get Rid of Rat Snakes

Rena Sherwood

The many varieties of rat snake are not poisonous. In the U.S., the most common rat snake is the black rat snake. But if rat snakes are unwelcome, ensure that your home and yard is unattractive to them. Rat snakes are attracted to any area that has rodents and insects, their main source of food.

Unlike many other snakes, rat snakes tend to stay still when a person walks up to them, according to Davidson College.

  1. Place a damp large burlap sack near where the rat snake is known to be hiding. Snakes often seek out hiding places and burlap sacks are ideal, according to Colorado State University Extension. Check regularly to see whether the snake is in the sack. If so, put on work gloves, pick up the sack and dump the snake outside. Although rat snakes are not poisonous, they can bite. Seal up any openings around the rat snake’s former den. If the snake needs to be moved immediately, go to Step 2.

  2. Take a broom or rake and sweep the snake into a large bucket, preferably one more than 5 gallons large. Take the rat snake outside and release, then seal up the den.

  3. Eliminate all food sources for rat snakes to prevent them from returning. Clean up food spills, get rid of tall grass, leaf piles and stone piles. Trim bushes and shrubs so the leaves do not hug the ground, because this creates a hiding place for both rodents and rat snakes. Seal all cracks or openings in basements, windows or under decks.

  4. Tip

    No reliable black rat snake repellents are available, according to Colorado State University Extension. Rat snakes often produce a foul odor when they are threatened. This smell is harmless. Black rat snakes will shake the ends of their tails in a good imitation of a rattlesnake.


    Never approach or remove a wild snake unless you are positive it is not venomous.