How To Kill a Snake: Is It Necessary?

In many cultures throughout the world, snakes are both feared and revered. Some snakes are admired for their sly hunting abilities, others are feared for their deadly venom. However, each one of these slithery serpents is an essential link in the world’s ecosystem. Without snakes, we would likely be overrun with small rodents and other pests. Despite this, once we see one, we raise the question: how to kill a snake or how to get rid of a snake? 

Snakes are not major carriers of disease, but rats certainly are! Snakes promote good health and hygiene because they prey upon other animals that are dangerous to humans. For gardeners, having a few garter snakes in the garden can be a great source of natural pest control, as they eat the insects, birds, sometimes pigeons, and other pest animals that can damage plants.  

Snake Species

There are 3,000 species of snakes in the world. Only 375 of them are venomous. In the U.S., there are only about 20 types of venomous snakes. When confronted with one of these potentially dangerous serpents, the question arises of whether the snake should be killed. 

Most of us have heard the old saying that snakes are more scared of us than we are of them – and it’s true! Snakes are terrified of people and the noises we make. If a snake finds itself in the presence of a human, it certainly was not on purpose. Ironically, most snake bites occur when a person is attempting to capture or kill a snake that strikes in self-defense. 

Snakes: Inland Taipan the Most Venomous Snake in the World

Most Venomous Snake In The World

Poisonous Snakes Cobra with Humans

The most venomous snake is considered to be the Inland Taipan in Australia, based on the median lethal dose of venom to kill a test population (usual mice). 

Many snake experts highlight the fact that the most dangerous snake is not necessarily the most venomous at all. 

The danger is influenced by the strength of the venom of course but there are a number of attributing factors. Such factors are venom yield, delivery, the snake’s behavior when it encounters humans and how likely that encounter to happen. 

Therefore the most dangerous snakes in the world are the Black mamba native to Africa and the Coastal Taipan native to Australia. None of these snakes exist in the United States.

The most dangerous snakes in the US are the Cottonmouth, Copperhead, Coral Snake, and the various species of Rattlesnakes. 

How to Get Rid of Snakes

Considering the snake’s importance to the ecosystem and the potential dangers that come with trying to kill them, first try some other options for repelling or relocating snakes instead of finding answers on how to kill a snake.

The best way to remove an unwanted snake is to call a professional. They will have the appropriate training and tools to safely remove and relocate a snake. If not, consider some different alternatives. 

First, take some preventative measures against snake entry before it becomes a problem. Snakes are drawn to cluttered, dark places because they are ambush predators – they like to attack their prey from a dark, hidden area. Avoid keeping low-growing plants in the yard, as well as compost mounds or piles of leaves because these are considered prime real estate for snakes. 

How to Kill a Snake

Next, stay on top of pest control. Snakes are predators who will go wherever the food is. 

Homes with mice, rats, and even cockroaches will look like an all-you-can-eat buffet to a snake. 

Eliminating these food sources will help eliminate snakes. 

Be sure to repair any holes or cracks that a snake could slither through. Some snakes can enter through an opening the size of a quarter. Materials such as steel wool and wire mesh can keep away snakes. Spray foams are a good option for sealing cracks.

Best Ways to Repel Or Get Rid of Snakes

Snake Fence

There are special fencing products available on the market that are designed to keep snakes out of the yard and other spaces. Snake fences usually consist of plastic sheeting, steel mesh, or catch net fencing.

Make sure that the fencing is flush to the ground to prevent the snakes from going under the fencing. Try placing snake fencing around any building that is elevated off the ground so that the snakes do not take up residence underneath.

If the snakes can’t get into your yard then no need to know how to kill a snake or get rid of them. Better be safe.

Snake Trap

If a snake is already present in a home, crawl space, or yard, a trap could take care of the problem. There are humane snake traps available for purchase at home improvement stores and online retailers. 

Glue traps catch the snake in a super-sticky pad from which they cannot escape. A great example is this Catchmaster Snake Glue Board. Others are more sophisticated cage traps that allow the snake to live and be relocated. DIY cages and traps can be fashioned using bottles, wooden boxes, or wire mesh, but they work best on small, non-venomous snakes.

Knowing how to kill a snake is not that difficult, snake traps can be effective and safe ways to do that.

Snake Repellent

A variety of snake repellents are available on the market. Most contain naphthalene or sulfur – both smells that are supposedly repugnant to snakes. Some professional snake repellents can include mongoose urine and king snake musk.

Since both of these ingredients are products of the snake’s natural predators, they are considered to be more effective than most commercial snake repellents.

How to Kill a Snake - Best Ways for a Cobra

How to Kill a Snake

There is a snake poison or a bait that can be purchased to lure in and then kill snakes. Remember that if a substance is poisonous to snakes, it most likely will poison other wildlife, as well.

If there is a scenario in which a venomous snake poses an immediate threat to you or someone else, there may be no choice but to kill it. If so, make sure you know how to kill a snake and use appropriate safety precautions, as this can be a dangerous task. 

  1. First, make sure that no people are in striking distance from the snake. Have bystanders move back slowly and quietly.
  2. To kill a snake, the head should be severed from the body. If possible, a sharp tool with a long handle, such as a garden hoe or shovel, is best. If one of these tools is not available, a sturdy stick or hiking pole can work.
  3. Quickly and forcefully stab the snake in between the head and body. This will break the spinal cord.
  4. Continue applying pressure to the tool until the snake stops wiggling and moving. DO NOT pick up the snake’s head by hand. The snake’s nervous system is still operating, and the head can still bite and deliver a deadly dose of venom, even after it is severed.
  5. Bury the snake at least 12 inches deep in the ground. Use a stick or shovel to toss it into the hole. Do not throw it in by hand.


Though often associated with dread, snakes pose very little threat to people. For this reason, the most important question is not how to kill a snake. 

They are an important part of the ecosystem, controlling the rat population and providing food for other wild predators. Removing snakes from nature can have serious repercussions.

To remove an unwanted snake, it is preferable to contact a professional snake removal service, which can do so effectively and safely. If there is no way around killing the snake, be sure to take appropriate safety measures and sever the head.

Usually, snakes will not cause a problem in homes or gardens. In the rare instances when a snake will require attention or removal, follow these guidelines to enjoy a snake-free home and yard.