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My Dog Kills Snakes In My House and Yard

LTM's small farm is completely off the grid. Her family uses solar and alternative power sources for lighting, cooking, animal fencing, etc.

Snake In My Yard

The venemous snake my dog killed today. He is biting behind the head of the snake.

The venemous snake my dog killed today. He is biting behind the head of the snake.

I live in Australia, the country with seven of the world's ten most deadly snakes. The three types of snakes found most commonly in homes and gardens in my region are all venomous. In fact, I've not seen one snake that couldn't kill me since moving to this part of the country.

We don't see harmless Green Tree Snakes here. Instead we get the deadly Eastern Brown snakes, the slightly less venomous Red Belly Black snakes, and Copperheads - also venomous.

My family lives off the grid on a small farm in a rather remote area, so it is imperative that we make every effort to keep snakes away from the house, and get rid of those that venture into our yard. It is a long trip to the hospital, and mobile telephone reception is unreliable.

A snake bite here may well be fatal, so I keep the grass short around my home and the yard clear of places for snakes to hide. Plus I love having a dog that kills snakes. Here's some photos and top tips about how I keep snakes away from my house and yard.

My old dog still kills snakes in my house and yard. This was the first one for this season,

My old dog still kills snakes in my house and yard. This was the first one for this season,

End of Hibernation

It is early snake season in our part of the world. I've seen a few sunning themselves on the warm road while driving into town, but today was my first close encounter with a wriggly in my own yard.

As I walked outdoors from my kitchen, I was too preoccupied to notice the Copperhead snuggled close to my doorstep. My dog spotted it and, by the time I walked back from collecting eggs from the hen house, the fight was on. One very small dog was wrestling with one rather large snake.

It took me a while to unpack my camera, but here are some photos of the later stage of their battle.

Update: Venomous Snakes At My Feet

Four months into the season, and already I've had six venomous snakes very close to my house. They're just the ones I've seen. There may have been many more that passed undetected.

On two separate occasions, my dog has tossed a venomous snake from alongside my feet.

We have an outdoor area adjoining the house where I grow some of my special medicinal and culinary herbs. It is completely encased in shade cloth to protect my favorite plants from sunburn in summer, frost in winter, strong winds and periods of relentless rain.

A few years ago we added a roof (over the shadecloth) and carpet over the earth floor, creating an ideal spot for me to sit at a table on my computer. Fresh air without mosquitoes or annoying moths heading for my computer screen in the night. I simply run an extension cord from inside the house to charge my computer, and I'm good for hours. I have small solar lights lighting the area all night, and have a more effective reading light (also solar) on my table if I need it.

The edges of this outdoor room are buried and sealed at ground level, so the only place a snake can enter is beneath the screen door.

In previous years I've had no wriggly visitors. This year I've had two.

Best Snake-Killing Dog

Before you expect your family pooch to kill any snake that ventures into your yard, we should spend a moment discussing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

My snake-killing dog is a mini foxie. Mini Fox Terriers are quite unique in their ability to kill snakes. I've known Jack Russells to have similar success, but the Fox Terrier is generally regarded as the best snake dog.

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This is my fourth mini foxie. I bought my first in 1983. It was not the breed of dog we planned on purchasing, but it was tiny and cute and my pre-schooler at the time fell in love with it. As a puppy, she fit in my pocket - which bothered me somewhat because I wanted it to grow into a real dog.

A real dog she was, and I have stuck with the same breed over the years.

Each of my dogs has successfully fought and won numerous battles with snakes. None of them have ever been bitten. Agile and astute, the mini Fox Terrier will take hold of a snake and thrash it in the air. At some time, the dog will bite into the flesh behind the head of the snake. At other times, it grabs the middle of the body and shakes hard.

The action continues until the snake stops moving.

If you live in snake territory, a Mini Fox Terrier could be a very good choice as a family pet. A word of warning, however. If you want your dog to be agile, you must ensure it gets appropriate exercise and is not overfed.

A fat dog has no hope of killing a snake. Sadly, family friends lost their Mini Fox Terrier to a snake's bite. I suspect it had the natural talent, but lacked the physique to execute the task.

How Do You Train Dogs to Kill Snakes?

Over the years many people have asked how I train my dogs to kill snakes. The truth is, I don't. I don't encourage my dogs to seek snakes, and I don't urge them to kill them. The dog finds the snake and kills it with no word or encouragement from me.

If we see a snake at a safe distance, I tend to call the dog back and avoid the battle. But more often than not, the clash has begun before I'm even aware of the danger.

Once my dog is engaged in a challenge with a venomous snake, the last thing I would consider doing is calling the dog or even speaking its name. I don't want to be responsible for causing a distraction. To be distracted is to risk death.

I stand by quietly and watch the drama unfold, and let nature take its course.

Sometimes we are alerted to the presence of a snake in a concealed space, for instance in the wood pile, when the dog growls and scratches. It is interesting to note, however, that there is no growling - no noise at all - when my dogs are actively challenging a snake. There may be noise from the actual scuffle, but no 'talking'.

My role is to watch in case the dog is injured and needs medical attention. I don't become involved in the confrontation in any way at all. Fortunately, in over 30 years, I've not once had a dog lose a fight with a snake.

Keeping Snakes Away

My husband and I have developed a number of strategies to discourage snakes and keep them away from the house.

We accept snakes may venture into our vegetable gardens, we anticipate they may take refuge in our woodpiles and we half-expect to encounter one in the shed ... or under the parked ride-on mower ... beneath the raised hen house ... or near the water storage tanks. But we take measures to discourage them from coming too close to our house, particularly during their active season.

A snake by our kitchen door was a harsh reminder to move from our 'winter' mindset (when snakes are hibernating and less of a threat) to 'summer' strategies for keeping snakes away.

Another Dead Snake, Thanks To My Dog


Snakes In The Grass

Everyone knows that snakes hide in long grass. Perhaps not everyone is aware that many snakes can remain concealed even in relatively short grass.

If you have extremely short lawn (the type in a manicured city garden), you'll be able to spot most snakes as they travel over your grass carpet. However if you have actual grass - as most of us who live in rural areas do - and even slightly uneven ground beneath your grass, snakes are much harder to see.

So when we mow the grass around our house during summer, we try to follow a strict routine.

  • Mow close to the house first, then carefully increase the clear area in increments ... allowing any wildlife (including snakes) to escape safely.
  • Finish mowing the yard area before moving towards the orchard.
  • Mow the grassy strips within the largest vegetable garden (in the hope that snakes will exit over the grass on the far side instead of just hiding in the thick jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb or comfrey patches),
  • Then mow the remaining clear grass areas ... before mowing beneath the gum trees and along the boundary fences. (Our other vegetable gardens are not set up for mowing. We know to be particularly careful of snakes when we enter them.)

Spring Time

My husband cranked up the ride-on mower. He started it alongside a shed on the other side of our orchard and our largest vegetable garden (both of which are beyond our 'yard' area) and because he only had a short time available, took it for a few gentle laps around the fruit trees to tidy up some grass that looked scruffy. He planned to mow the rest of the grass on the weekend.

Yesterday he mowed the orchard. Today I almost stepped on a venomous snake by the kitchen door.

So here's a reminder for everyone, including myself ... In spring time (and all through the snake season), remember to mow near the house first.

Keeping Snakes Out Of My House

I have lived in a number of different homes over the years and had a variety of close encounters with snakes. Once, while spring cleaning, I opened all the doors and windows on the ground floor and then went upstairs to put my baby down for a daytime sleep.

When I came downstairs again I was surprised to see someone had left a large rope, coiled loosely, just inside my front door. The rope was actually a King Brown snake. Huge. Frightening.

Fortunately it decided to take itself outside, because there was no way I could have tackled it on my own.

Ever since that day I have been conscious of the value of security screen doors. Forget about burglars; I am more interested in keeping snakes out. I like to have air flow without fear of snakes.

When telling my King Brown horror story to another mother, she shared an even more frightening story about checking on her kids in bed late one night and discovering a large python had entered through the bedroom window.

It was poised above the top bunk where her young son was sleeping. She screamed for her husband's help and they safely removed their two children from the room before calling for a friend to come and help get rid of the snake.

At that point I decided window screens were also a good idea.

Milk Attracts Snakes

I had a cat years ago and used to feed it outdoors until I discovered a snake with its head in the saucer of milk.

A few years ago we suspected we had a snake in a confined space in our shed among some building materials including glass doors and windows stored upright above wooden planks resting on the ground. We didn't like the idea of having to move all the heavy items, particularly if a snake was likely to be among them.

I put a bowl of milk at a distance outside the shed, and left the shed door open. When we took the dog inside the shed two days later, there was nothing attracting the dog's attention so we assume the snake left and stayed outside.

Recently a man told me how he catches snakes. He said he opens a can of baked beans but doesn't completely remove the lid. He bends the lid open so he can pour the beans out. After he's had dinner, he washes the can and puts milk in the bottom, then bends the lid back down leaving just a small opening.

He lays the can on its side outdoors and claims to have caught a number of snakes this way. According to him, the snake puts its head into the can but then can't back out.

I've never tried it, but I have to wonder how he gets the size of the opening just right. A snake with a big head might just end up hanging around the milk smell. And what if it attracted multiple snakes ... yikes.

Slippery Tiles Stop Snakes

One of the most effective ways of stopping snakes from slithering across the ground into your home is tiling the entry with slippery tiles.

I was visiting a friend once when we heard a strange slapping noise on her undercover deck. A medium sized snake had moved onto her deck but was stranded, unable to continue over her smooth, shiny tiles. Instead of progressing towards the door of her house, it was no more than its body length away from the garden.

The best tiles for your floor if you want to stop snakes are glossy, shiny tiles - the type you expect to find in a bathroom. My personal preference in tiles is terracotta - pretty useless when it comes to discouraging snakes. Any floor surface they can gain traction on won't stop them.

When planning our dream home (the new house we occasionally talk about designing and building now that we are experienced in all aspects of living off the grid), my husband and I agree it makes sense to incorporate smooth, glossy tiles on the floor of at least one entry.

The tiles would need to extend a little further than the longest snake we've seen in our yard, and we intend to put one row of tiles at the bottom of each wall - just to make sure a slippery visitor doesn't get lucky (or smart) enough to gain traction along the edge.

I tend to worry about how slippery such a surface will be for humans with wet shoes after rain, but it is certainly an option worth considering if your home design can accommodate it. (A mat to wipe wet feet is useful, as long as everyone remembers to use it.)

Our design for a snake-proof entry includes extended roofing over the slippery tiles, and siting the entry away from the direction of rain-carrying winds.

Products That Repel Or Trap Snakes

My friends rely on a variety of products to repel or trap snakes. With my fabulous snake dog on hand, I don't feel I need them. Plus I like my children and grandchildren to watch where they put their feet when walking in my gardens instead of assuming they'll be safely protected by a box on the other side of the yard.

If you have personal experience successfully (or unsuccessfully) using any of the products that repel or trap snakes, perhaps you might offer some feedback in the comments section. I certainly understand why they are so popular. Nobody wants snakes in their yard or home.

Lucky my neighbour was wearing his boots when he nearly stepped on this snake. He keeps his eel-spear close at hand during snake season, and carries it when walking in his yard.

Lucky my neighbour was wearing his boots when he nearly stepped on this snake. He keeps his eel-spear close at hand during snake season, and carries it when walking in his yard.

An old-timer who lives nearby came to visit me to warn me to watch out for snakes. He had speared one with a tool he bought years ago for catching/killing eels. The snake was still alive so I urged him to quickly put it out of its misery.

I love having a dog around my home, patrolling my house and yard for venomous snakes. He is much more effective at getting rid of snakes than I could ever be!

© 2014 LongTimeMother


Tali on October 15, 2020:

Never knew a dog could kill snakes...I just bought a jack russell puppy, but I have been killing pygmy rattlers and cotton mouths since I was a kid with nothing but a shovel. I remember coming home after my c-section, and saw that pygmy in my garden. I picked up the shovel and told myself I better not miss because I hurt too much to dodge. Severed it's head with my first strike. Nice to know this new pup will one day be able to protect my kids. It will help to have a second set of eyes. I've lived in Florida my whole life and poisonous snakes are a fact of life here. I hate them. Thanks for the informative article!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on December 27, 2018:

Hi Megan. Misty is the perfect dog for you! Don't let her get fat and unfit because she'll have that natural instinct to kill snakes forever.

And please remember to let her do the job without talking to her. She won't want to be distracted.

Megan on December 26, 2018:

Our little Jack russell 'Misty' has done me proud the last two days. I am terrified of snakes and she has fought two tiger snakes in our garden beds directly adjacent to our house, Christmas eve and then today. I worry about her, but she does it so quickly and efficiently that I have been too slow to remove her from the situation.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on November 08, 2017:

Hi Jackie. Thanks for mentioning the typo. It would have been during relatively recent updates, I hope. (You commented on this article a couple of years ago and it wasn't there then, thank goodness.)

My dog has killed two more snakes within the past week. I considered adding photos but there's a limit to how many dead snakes a reader is likely to want to see, I guess. I still take photos, I just don't bother posting them. Thanks again for your comment. :)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on November 07, 2017:

I always say the only good snake is a dead one and I only mean that as the poisonous type of course. I cannot imagine what good they are.

Living in the southern US we have snakes too but I have always used moth balls tossed around the edges and under my house. Under the sinks and cabinets and just any good hiding place! Helps repel moths too, so double whammy. It seems to work.

You have a typo in a heading above about snakes liking milk. I would want to know and thought you might. Surprised no one has told you after all these months.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on July 26, 2016:

Hi Edithe. Welcome to Australia! Sounds like you'll have plenty of time to explore the east coast. You're here in our winter so most of our snakes will be tucked away hibernating. lol. I trust you'll spend some time in the bush so you get to see some of our lovely other wildlife though. Just make sure you watch out for kangaroos (and wombats in some areas) on the roads when you're driving the roads at night. Have a safe trip. :)

Elizabeth Downing from Milky Way, Galaxy on July 12, 2016:

Despite reading this article a year ago:), I fulfilled a goal of mine to visit Australia. Currently in Melbourne, a beautiful city (not sure why I chose winter to start though) and I will be making my way through a couple other parts including Queensland by September.

If you decide to go on vacation, let me know so I can borrow your adorable, lifesaving dog!:)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 23, 2016:

A healthy sense of adventure is an asset for anyone visiting the Australian bush, Bill. Most visitors will never see a venomous snake here, but those who do probably never forget it. Certainly gets the adrenaline flowing when you almost step on a snake that can kill you.

If ever you do get the chance to come to Australia, I'm sure you'll love it. You'll encounter lots of nice people ... and very few deadly snakes. :)

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on June 16, 2016:

I love dogs and hate snakes. Even though I detest the crawlers I still want to visit Australia. In New England there are a few dangerous snakes but nothing like what you guys have. Great hub.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 07, 2016:

This particular dog has a very original name, and my daughter is thrilled nobody else has thought of it. She'd not be happy if I was to share his name. lol.

I can imagine your fear. I'd be worried about any other kind of dog trying to take on a snake. However I've had foxies for so many years now that I am quietly confident the dog will win. For me, the most important thing is to just keep quiet and not distract the dog. I get quite cross if anyone else happens to be around and tries to instruct the dog.

It is a chance to watch nature at work. Foxies just have a natural ability. Over the years I've had four brilliant protectors (over 30+ years), and they've all been mini foxies. Not one has ever lost a fight with a snake, and they've all been lovely family dogs as well.

Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on April 25, 2016:

Awesome foxie dog; what is his name? We have copperheads, water moccasins and rattle snakes here. Down by the river, the border collies surrounded a water moccasin and barked at it while it struck at them as they took turns diving in. Scary, border collies are not good killers of snakes.

Suzie from Carson City on December 10, 2015:

Asleep isn't good enough for me!!! LOL. I'd have to whisper and tip toe so I didn't wake them!! my phobias are over the top....!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on December 10, 2015:

lol. Hi Paula. You'd have to be a winter tourist ... when snakes are asleep. :)

Suzie from Carson City on December 05, 2015:

You write about snakes...venomous snakes. You live where there are many varieties of venomous snakes. You have seen them and had encounters with them. In your yard and IN YOUR HOME!!!

Quite honestly, I can barely READ about snakes, see the pictures & know your stories without feeling queasy, dizzy, utterly paralyzed from fright and feel my heart racing. I have tears well up in my eyes. I am completely and utterly phobic of snakes (and spiders) to an incredibly morbid degree.

God bless you. I KNOW there is no way I could live (or even go near) (in) your area. I'm sure it is quite lovely and you are happy there. I could not stay for a moment without losing my mind ...looking, waiting for, fearing the mere sight of a snake....of any kind....ever!!

Yes, I know. I'm a bit over the top. It's OK to think I've lost it. I don't mind....and I can't change this.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on July 14, 2015:

Oh, yuck. The thought of nudging a snake with my toe makes me seriously squirm. I'm not sure snakes around here would graciously head for the closest bush.

It costs nothing to dream, though. lol.

Robert Morgan from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Gilbert AZ on July 11, 2015:

Good news on the neighbors getting their little Foxies. Bad new for naughty snakes. So far no snakes in my trees lol.

Robert Morgan from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Gilbert AZ on July 11, 2015:

It seems so funny we start talking about snakes and they start appearing. I was on my our walk way that leads to the beach and almost stepped on a tiny black snake with a red ring on its neck. I had to nudge it to get it to move off the walkway, when i touched its tail with my toe it move like lightening in to the closest bush. Really kind of cute lol. Blessings to you and your family.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on July 11, 2015:

Hello rawspirit. I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

Years ago I lived in an area with green tree snakes that weren't venomous ... which was lucky because I occasionally encountered them in my avocado trees. Not under my feet, but in my face. I'm not sure which of us was more surprised and moved fastest. lol.

My next door neighbour bought a Mini Foxie a few months ago. Driving home today I spotted two more Mini Foxies outside nearby homes. My little snake-killer is gaining quite a reputation around here. :)

Robert Morgan from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Gilbert AZ on July 08, 2015:

Wow... Best story I have read all day. I can hardly believe you can even cope with so many dangerous snakes living right at your feet. Your dog is amazing and your own bravery exceeds anything I can muster up. I live on a small island off the south Florida coast and we lost of non-venomous snakes in our gardens, but I have to see any of the venomous type that are on the mainland which is just a few miles away. Thanks for the great article. Blessings and stay safe :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 30, 2015:

Hello Diana. This year has been a bad year for snakes here. Perhaps next year we'll have less. :)

Diana J Limjoco from Puerto Princesa, Palawan on April 29, 2015:

Wow, that is scary. We have King Cobras in Palawan where we live...but we see fewer and fewer of them, thank goodness.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 27, 2015:

If ever you move from the city to snake territory, try to take a mini foxie with you. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 27, 2015:

Hello, Estelle. Years ago I had a studio cat. He died from a snake bite. Unfortunately the cat used to play with things ... and didn't understand the danger of a venomous snake.

My little snake dog is brilliant. :)

Elizabeth Downing from Milky Way, Galaxy on April 26, 2015:

This was great and I learned that dogs can kill snakes. Never knew there was any breed of dog that could move quick enough and be smart enough for that. I always thought it was more of a cats territory.

I suppose it's something you get used to living there but that story made this city girl squirm!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 09, 2015:

I am lucky to have had such loyal, protective dogs over the years, peachpurple. And I'm very grateful that nature provides some dogs with the ability to protect us from snakes in particular! Thanks for your comment. :)

peachy from Home Sweet Home on April 06, 2015:

thanks for sharing your experience. It is amazing that dogs can counter attack snakes

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 09, 2015:

lol. Sounds like her perfect home would be a penthouse apartment, poetryman6969. I hope you don't have snakes where you live. :)

poetryman6969 on February 02, 2015:

Unfortunately my wife does not like dogs. She does not like snakes either but it does not appear that we can use one to kill the other since she likes neither.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on January 13, 2015:

Your black snakes and brown snakes are very different to ours, Jackie. Our black (the Red Belly Black Snake) is venomous, and our brown (the Eastern Brown Snake) is even more venomous. In this part of the world it is wiser to use a mouse trap for the mice. :)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on January 13, 2015:

You are braver than me to live with poisonous snakes under your feet! Sounds like you have been very very lucky. Can you imagine the rate at which snakes multiply? If they don't outnumber us they soon will! In all honesty I would leave a brown or black snake alone for they kill mice, etc; but would have no pity for any others.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on January 11, 2015:

I was sitting in my outdoor undercover area yesterday talking on the phone. It was a call to a business, not a friend. The person on the other end must have had a huge surprise when I suddenly said "Oh, sh*t. A snake."

She asked if I needed to get off the phone and seemed disbelieving when I said, "It's okay. My dog's taking care of it."

I hadn't noticed it until my dog rushed to my feet, picked it up and tossed it away. He killed it while I calmly completed my call. lol.

My motto, Jackie, is "A good snake is a distant snake." I don't begrudge them life, I just don't like them in my personal space. :)

@growithme, thank you for your suggestion. I grow lots of garlic here but I really like eating it. If ever I don't have a helpful dog on snake watch, I will consider crushing my garlic. :)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on January 11, 2015:

I have always kept cats to keep snakes away and it seems to work. I also toss mothballs around outside and in basements and concealed places; I have heard snakes do not like that odor and I figure it is worth a try. I once had a copperheads mouth right against my foot where I almost stepped on it and when I looked down there it was. I learned to fly that day. lol

My husband killed it and we figure all the eggs inside it was what kept it from being able to bite me like another one may have. My motto has always been and will always be; "The only good snake is a dead snake!" No one can convince me they are good for anything.

growithme on January 05, 2015:

Even our place here in Kerala,India has lots of snakes.placing crushed garlic around the compound of house helps.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on December 28, 2014:

Hello DDE. I have recently been reading hubs by people who have bears in their backyards. Compared to a bear, my snake visitors seem much less troublesome. :)

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 20, 2014:

Interesting! The feeling of looking at snakes just makes a cold shiver go down my spine. Your tips sounds most helpful. We only have only one venomous snake around my place. Getting rid of snakes can be easy but I let them go their way.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on December 13, 2014: