The attic, the basement, the garage—there's no shortage of places in which snakes like to hide in your home. But one of their most insidious regular hiding spots is located just outside: Your porch—or, more specifically, under your porch. Of course, that's the last place you want to poke your head (you have no clue what's under there!), but there are several telltale signs that a local ophidian beast has made this location its home. Read on to hear straight from the experts about what you should look out for if you think there's a snake under your porch.
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This is why snakes like hiding under porches.
A snake hiding under your porch is a sign of news that's both good and bad. Good: It probably won't stay there long. Bad: It could be a thoroughfare into other parts of your home (those aforementioned spots, yes, but also some others).
"The spaces underneath homes are popular nesting sites for snakes because they offer shelter and food," the folks at Critter Control, a national pest control service, write. "Gaps and cracks in building foundations allow the pests to slither under structures. The voids underneath porches and decks also act as pathways to the underside of homes."
Here's the biggest way to know there's a snake under your porch.
Snakes regularly shed, partially the result of the natural growing process, and partially a proactive move to purge any parasites. Every time a snake sheds—an occurrence that can happen once every one to three months, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources—it will leave a dry, scaly second skin in its wake. If you start to see any shedded snake skins in the vicinity of your porch, that's as good a sign as any that there's a snake under there.
"It's quite common to run into snakes during a home renovation project," Rick Berres, the owner of Minnesota-based home renovation company Honey-Doers, tells Best Life. "The most obvious sign of a snake is to find a skin near places they might use to enter your home."
There are some other tells, too.
Snakes tend to exhibit sounds to ward off what they consider potential predators—like, say, a bipedal mammal stomping around on the roof over their head. Hearing a hiss or, in the case of a rattlesnake, a rattle is a dead giveaway there's a snake under your porch.
Of course, the outdoors have plenty of auditory distractions—vehicles, neighbors, the wind—that could make it tough to hear a snake. Another giveaway is a bit more subtle and requires some hawk-like attention to detail. Snakes feast on rodents: mice, rats, and other small mammals. "Snakes eat where they live," Thomas Ward, a biologist with Critter Control, tells Best Life.
If you've seen rodents in your vicinity, only to have a sudden and notable absence, that could be a clue there's a snake nearby. "Any time I've had a snake problem, it's been after a period of seeing zero rodents for a while," Berres says. "There are usually some signs, but it's always after a sudden disappearance."
This, by the way, "is why snakes are more likely to avoid well-kept yards" in the first place, Jeremy Yamaguchi, the CEO of yard tech company Lawn Love, explains.
The final sign there's a snake under your porch is also the grossest: You could see their, um, refuse on or near your porch. "Snakes excrete a mixture of feces and urine. It is white and mostly liquid. People can confuse it with bird or lizard droppings," Ward notes.
If you do see a snake, don't be rash.
Sometimes, the difference between a venomous snake and a non-venomous snake can be nearly imperceptible to an untrained eye. But a bite from a venomous snake can cause anything from muscle soreness to impaired vision, according to the CDC. So, if you do spot a snake under your porch or anywhere else, keep yourself and any pets or children far away. If you must move it, use a broom or long stick, though it's always advisable to ring up your local pest control service first.