Can You Shoot a Snake in Your Yard? (Can I Do This Legally?)

can you shoot a snake in your backyard

Coming across a snake in your yard can be a frightening experience. In order to protect yourself and your family, your initial reaction may be to shoot the snake where it is. Before jumping the gun (pun intended) and pulling the trigger, you should find out whether it’s legal to do or not.

State laws vary on whether or not you can shoot a snake in your yard. In general, you can legally shoot a snake if it’s done in self-defense, and you don’t live within city limits. If you live within a rural area, you can legally shoot a snake as long as it’s not considered a protected species.

As such, there are still many questions that come up when it comes to shooting a snake in your yard due to the many various state laws. So, we will unpack all the common questions regarding this. In addition, we will also provide ways to prevent snakes from entering your yard in the first place. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

The laws regarding shooting snakes in your yard are strict since many species of snakes are endangered. Prevention is the best strategy you can take so you don’t have to deal with snakes at all.

Here are some of our favorite snake prevention tools:

1. All-Natural Snake Deterrent Spray – A spray that will scare away snakes and not cause harm to your pets

2. Ultrasonic Repellent – Emits low-frequency pulses to keep rodents and snakes out of your yard

3. Snake Repellent Spray – One gallon of spray that comes with a convenient spray nozzle

Laws About Shooting Snakes

Snakes are a wonderous and exciting creature to many of us, but, unfortunately, many species are almost extinct. This explains the many different laws that pertain to snakes. So let’s dive into them!

Is It Illegal to Kill Snakes in America?

In the United States, several threatened and endangered species of snakes are illegal to kill. There are federal laws that do not permit people to kill these types of snakes and different state laws that vary. 

For example, it is illegal to kill any snake in Georgia on public land. But, in California, anyone can kill any snake at any time, anywhere- except for the endangered red diamond rattlesnake. 

The snakes on the endangered species list are not allowed to be shot regardless of where you live since these are federal laws and not state laws.

Is Killing a Snake Legal?

Whether or not killing a snake is legal will depend on where you live. Each state in America has its separate laws about snakes. However, it is illegal to kill endangered species of snakes no matter which state you live in.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service protects the species of snakes that are becoming endangered or threatened of extinction by creating laws that make it illegal for anyone to kill them.

 If you do kill a snake that is endangered according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service you will face a steep fine and possible time in prison.

Other than the endangered species of snakes, it is legal to kill a snake if you are acting in self-defense, whether you are protecting yourself or a family member.

Which Snake Is Illegal to Kill?

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, federal laws exist to protect snakes that are likely to become extinct. If you kill any of these snakes, you can face a hefty fine and possible jail time.

 Snakes that are illegal to kill in the United States include:

  • Indigo snakes
  • Louisiana pine snakes
  • Lake Erie watersnakes
  • The eastern massasauga rattlesnake
  • Several garter snake subspecies

What Are the Fines for Killing Endangered Snakes?

The fine for killing an endangered snake can be up to $50,000 or up to one year in prison. If you are caught illegally killing a snake that is not endangered, you could be charged up to several hundred dollars.

For example, these four men were fined $200 each for killing a timber rattlesnake in western Maryland. This is why it is essential to know your specific state laws regarding killing snakes, as laws vary from state to state. 

Can I Shoot a Snake in My Yard?

You are only allowed to shoot a snake in your yard if you act in self-defense. Also, you must be within certain areas that allow you to shoot in your yard. For example, shooting in your yard if you live within city limits is generally not allowed in any city in the United States.

But, if you live in a rural area, you are allowed to shoot a snake if acting in self-defense. Even the snakes that are a part of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 can be shot.

But, in all other cases, it is not legal to shoot a snake if it is protected. However, state laws will vary on what species are protected. 

You might also enjoy our post on If Snakes Can Climb Walls

Is It Legal to Shoot a Snake in Florida?

You are legally allowed to shoot a snake in Florida in self-defense, even if the snake is included in the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  However,  you are not legally allowed to shoot a snake if you live within city limits.

Cities in Florida have laws against shooting a firearm within city limits. In addition, it can be hazardous to shoot a gun at an animal if you have neighbors.

Therefore, you can only shoot a snake if you live in rural areas.

Keep in mind the following snakes are considered endangered or threatened in Florida:

  • The eastern indigo snake
  • The Florida brown snake
  • The Florida pine snake
  • The key ringneck snake
  • The short-tailed snake

Is It Against the Law to Shoot a Rattlesnake in Texas?

The timber rattlesnake is an endangered species and is therefore illegal to shoot in Texas. However, if you are under immediate threat, you can shoot the snake, but it is highly discouraged.

Since the snake is endangered and protected by The Endangered Species Act of 1973, the state of Texas and the country of the United States highly discourages killing the snake even in self-defense. 

The state of Texas says that the timber rattlesnake does not prey on humans and you should not feel threatened by them. If you happen to kill a rattlesnake out of self-defense, you will need to prove that you were in immediate danger. 

Is It Illegal to Shoot a Copperhead in Tennessee?

It is illegal to shoot any snake in Tennessee without a proper permit and only if you are in immediate danger and acting in self-defense. The state of Tennessee has strict laws to protect its wild snakes.

Therefore, if you see a snake in your yard and you live in Tennessee, you are not allowed to shoot the snake or kill it in any way.

If you get caught killing a wild snake that was not out of self-defense, you can get fined and possibly jail time.

How to Deal With Snakes in Your Yard

Now that we have sorted through most of the common laws regarding snakes within each state and throughout America, let’s unpack the ways you can deal with snakes in your yard.

What Do I Do if I See a Snake in My Yard?

If you see a snake in your yard you should try your best to leave the snake alone. Snakes typically are not hunting humans or pets and are only going about their usual business.

However, snakes can be problematic because some of them can be venomous. Therefore, you should identify it by species to figure out if it is venomous or not.

If you find that the snake is venomous, you should make sure all your family and pets are inside.  

Once your family and pets are inside, you should call your local animal control, police, or fire departments to remove the snake. 

If the snake is non-venomous, you should let the snake go about its usual business and not touch it or bother it in any way. The snake will go on its way, and you will likely never see it again.

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot a Bear on Your Property

Can You Drown a Snake? 

Drowning a snake is technically killing a snake, so you need to make sure that your state laws allow you to kill wild snakes legally. Keep in mind that some snakes are illegal to kill across America, no matter which state you live in.

A homeowner should also note that drowning a snake may be determined as an inhumane way of killing snakes.

Most states state that to kill a snake, you must do it in a humane way that does not make the snake suffer. Also, snakes are lung-breathing animals, so it may be more difficult to drown a snake than you think.

What to Do if a Snake Chases You?

Snakes are not known to chase humans since humans are not part of their diet. The fear of a snake chasing you typically comes from the media and is generally not likely to happen. 

However, a snake may chase something that it is afraid of. But they are not chasing you to attack you. Instead, they are trying to find safety.

Therefore, do not provoke a snake if it is chasing you as it may cause them to become aggressive. 

When some snakes are afraid, they will try to retreat to the water. So, if you are in between a snake and a body of water, it may appear as though the snake is chasing you. 

However, the snake is just trying to reach the water. If this happens to you, try to run in the opposite direction as the water.

You might also enjoy our post on Can I Shoot a Raccoon on My Property?

How Do You Kill a Snake?

Before you try to kill a snake, you need to ensure it is not venomous. Getting up close and personal with a venomous snake is far too risky. But, when it is not venomous, you can implement certain snake traps around your yard, or you can shoot the snake.

The most effective way of killing a snake is to use a live catch trap and then kill the snake yourself.

With this live catch trap, the snake will become trapped, and then you can use the method of your choice to kill the snake, such as drowning it or shooting it. 

You should only shoot the snake if you are confident in your shot. If the shot does not kill the snake, the snake can become aggressive and bite you.

Also, keep in mind that specific state laws will prohibit you from shooting a snake, especially if you live in a city.

Can I Shoot a Snake if It Attacks Me?

You are legally allowed to shoot a snake if it attacks you, and you are acting in self-defense. However, keep in mind that you cannot shoot a gun within the city limits. You are only allowed to shoot a gun if you live in a rural area. 

Your state also might have specific laws regarding how far away from a house you have to be to shoot a gun. 

Therefore, it is essential to check with your local state laws to ensure that you are legally allowed to shoot a snake in your area.

But, generally speaking, you are allowed to shoot a snake if you act in self-defense and as long as you are following other local gun laws.

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What Snakes Are Poisonous?

There is a wide range of venomous snakes in the United States. The most common ones to look out for are copperhead snakes, rattlesnakes, and cottonmouth snakes. 

Here’s a list of the most venomous snakes in the United States:

  1. Cottonmouth
  2. Timber rattlesnake 
  3. Black diamond rattlesnake
  4. Tiger rattlesnake
  5. Copperhead
  6. Eastern coral snake
  7. Western diamond rattlesnake
  8. Eastern diamondback rattlesnake
  9. Prairie rattlesnake
  10. Mojave Rattlesnake

How to Prevent Snakes From Coming Into Your Property

Now that we have determined how you should act if you see a snake in your yard, let’s figure out why snakes are attracted to your yard in the first place.

Preventing them from coming into your yard will save you a lot of time and effort in the future. 

What Attracts Snakes to Your House?

The best way to keep snakes out of your yard is to eliminate attractants. Snakes are attracted to rodents, such as mice and chipmunks, as these are their primary food sources. In addition, if you have birdfeeders, rodents may be attracted to these, which will attract snakes.

Other than rodents, these are some common snake attractants:

  • Tall grass and plants
  • Old pet food
  • Compost that is near your home
  • Sources of water such as pools or ponds
  • Fenceless yards
  • Piles of wood or rubbish

How Do I Keep Snakes Out of My Yard?

The best way to keep snakes out of your yard is to use a specific snake repellent. You can sprinkle the repellent around your property every 30 days to ensure that the snakes stay out.

Other than a repellent, you should ensure that your yard is not attracting any snakes in the first place.

To do this, make sure you are not keeping any pet food out in the open and do not have any bodies of water in your yard.

This can be anything from puddles due to an uneven swap in your yard or large bins of water for pets.

Also, ensure that your yard is kept clean of tall grass, unkept bushes, and any piles of wood or rubbish lying around.

Do Eggshells Attract Snakes?

Eggshells do not necessarily attract snakes, but they do attract rodents. This is dangerous because rodents are a  snake’s primary food. Therefore, they will be attracted to your yard since your yard is now attracting rodents.

If you enjoy composting your eggs, you should thoroughly rinse them before adding them to your soil. Any egg residue can attract rodents and snakes. 

First, it is a good idea to rinse your eggshells, let them dry inside, and then crush them into the soil. This will ensure that all the residue has been taken off and will not attract anything. 

Is It Good to Have Snakes in Your Yard?

While some snakes can be terrifying to have in your yard, other snakes can be very beneficial, especially if you have a garden. For example, the garter snake is known to be a gardener’s best friend.

This snake is an indication of a healthy ecosystem. The gardener snake is harmless to humans and enjoys eating pests that tend to wreak havoc in your garden.

These pests can also carry harmful bacteria and diseases that are best kept away from your food.

 So, the next time you see a snake in your yard, you should identify it right away. If the snake is not venomous, it is likely there for a good reason, like maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

 Snakes often are not hunting down humans and have no interest in eating humans- no matter what our fears try to tell us otherwise. 

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot Squirrels in Your Backyard

Should I Worry About Snakes in My Yard?

Generally, snakes are not something to worry about if they are in your yard. Snakes will only be in your yard if they are curious and looking for food, such as rats and mice. 

Although snakes do like to live or wander in slightly messy yards, so, the snake may inform you that it is time to cut your grass, trim your bushes, or clean up the extra dog food lying around. 

Signs of Snakes in Your Yard

Some obvious signs of snakes in your yard include snakeskin, slither tracks, a distinctive smell, and fewer rodents around your home than usual. 

However, it is not always bad to have snakes on your property, but we can understand how this can be unsettling.

Snakes shed their skin as they grow. So, if you find a snakeskin shed on your property, it is very likely that a snake has been living there for at least a couple of weeks.

You may also notice a distinctive smell that was not there before. 

Another sign to look out for is unexpected noises coming from areas where there shouldn’t be noise. For example, snakes tend to ruffle the grass they are slithering in, creating an unusual noise.

Although you will not recognize the noise at first, people tend to think that a snake is creating the noise just from instinct. 

What Smells Do Snakes Hate?

There are many scents that snakes hate that you can easily create a deterrent spray from. Some of the commonly disliked scents of snakes include cinnamon, cloves, onions, and garlic.

Thankfully, you may already have these scents in the form of kitchen spices or essential oils. If you would like to make a natural deterrent spray, you can include any of these scents in a spray bottle filled with water.

How to Get Rid of Snakes in Your Yard Naturally

Natural repellents, such as repellents that contain essential oils or vinegar, will deter snakes away from your property. You can either soak rags in these deterrents or place them around your property. 

Or, you can create a deterrent spray from these scents and spray it around your property.

Snakes particularly hate these scents that you can use in your deterrent solution:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Onion
  • Lime
  • Vinegar
  • Garlic

How to Get Rid of Snakes by the Pool

You can prevent snakes from entering your pool area by using deterrent sprays and keeping the pool area free from debris. Snakes naturally love bodies of water for several reasons, such as the fact that it helps them shed their skin.

However, this doesn’t mean that we want them in our pools. To ensure that snakes stay away from the pool area, you should keep your hedges trimmed and the grass around your pool neat.

Snakes like to live in high grass areas and things like piles of sticks and pool tarps. 

You can also spray deodorant sprays around your pool to prevent the snakes from coming into the area. Snakes highly dislike specific scents such as cinnamon, garlic, and lime. 

You might also enjoy our post on If It Is Illegal to Shoot Birds in Your Backyard

Related Questions

Will My Dog Die if It Eats a Dead Snake?

It is difficult to determine if your dog will die if it eats a dead snake. When you find out that your dog ate a dead snake, you should contact your vet immediately and report what happened. If your dog is vomiting, you should take them in as soon as possible.

Thankfully, once a snake is dead, it usually cannot bite or inject the venom. So, your chances of your dog being extremely sick is less likely. 

However, it is still best to cover your bases and take your dog in for a check-up. You never know what happened before your dog ate a dead snake and it is possible that it could’ve gotten bit or injected with venom. 

Can a Snake Bite Through Leather Cowboy Boots?

Some particularly vicious snakes can fight through leather cowboy boots. However, most snakes you will encounter cannot bite through thick leather boots such as cowboy boots.

If your cowboy boots are made of thick leather, you will be more protected from snakebites as opposed to boots made out of thin leather.

If you are venturing out into an area where you know there are snakes, you should prepare for the worst and where the thickest leather boots you can.

Final Thoughts 

By now, you should have enough solid information to make a sound decision when it comes to shooting a snake in your yard.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that each state has its individual laws regarding stinks and you should check with your state before making any decisions. 

Also, keep a list of the snakes on the endangered species act and make sure that you try your best not to shoot these snakes since they are going extinct.

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