Snakes live in a variety of habitats, from deserts to jungles to suburban backyards. Their homes in these habitats also vary. Some find shelter under rocks or in hollow tree trunks, and many take over the residences of other critters. Typical snakes: bullying other creatures out of their homes. Because snakes can't dig holes, they often live or take shelter in other animals' burrows, which is why you often see them slithering out of the ground.
Snakes often inhabit holes dug by rodents, including groundhogs, moles, chipmunks and mice. Either they slip into the hole when the rodent is out or, if the rodent happens to be inside, the snake attacks and eats them.
Some snakes spend much of their lives in holes, emerging for food and sunshine. Other species of snakes spend the majority of their lives outside and only seek the shelter of holes at night or during cold months in order to hibernate.
Identifying Snake Holes
Because no holes are created by snakes, the holes they inhabit won't be a particular size or shape. There are a couple of ways to tell if a snake has taken over a rodent's hole in your backyard.
The most obvious is if you witness a snake emerging from a hole in your yard. If that happens, you can assume the snake has made this hole a temporary or permanent home. Another way to tell if that hole in your yard is inhabited by a snake is by a lack of spiderwebs or debris around the hole's entrance.
What Can You Do If You Spot a Snake Hole?
First of all, don't be alarmed. Snakes don't like humans and will likely get away from you as fast as possible. You should, however, fear a snake when it's cornered and feels threatened. This is when it's likely to strike in order to defend itself. If you're worried about snake holes in your backyard, you can call animal services to get them checked out.
To prevent snakes from entering your backyard in the first place, make sure it's cleared of leaf debris. Keep areas cleaned out where snakes like to shelter, such as woodpiles and hollow tree trunks. Be sure your yard is neatly mowed, and keep branches and leaves off the ground.
Snake bites in the United States are rare. Between 1,000 and 2,000 snakes bite humans each year, and only a handful of those people die. The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles lists 21 species of snakes in North America, and four of those species are considered poisonous: rattlesnake, cottonmouth moccasin, copperhead and coral snake.
Unless one of these species is inhabiting a hole in your backyard, you don't have much to worry about. Just keep your yard free of debris, and if you see a snake, don't threaten it. Call animal control for help or let it peacefully slither away.