The Leaf Raking Mistake That Will Attract Snakes To Your Lawn

If you spent half the weekend raking up leaves and left piles of them throughout your yard, you're creating the ideal spot for snakes to hide. Those leaves create little air pockets of warmth and barriers from wind that shield the snake from cold weather, and since snakes seek out warmth, your innocent pile of leaves could easily become a haven for unwanted slithering pests. The biggest leaf-raking mistake you can make is not finishing up the task and leaving those leaves present for even a short few days.

Since snakes, like all other reptiles, are cold-blooded, they will either lay out in the sun for warmth or navigate towards shelter that can offer a level of insulative quality, especially at the start of fall when crisp weather is in the air. Keep in mind that snakes, like other pests, pack on the pounds before the cold weather sets in, and many will increase their calorie intake to some degree. They don't have fur to keep them warm, either, meaning they need to find a source of heat. Those fallen leaves don't offer much on their own, but when you rake them into a pile, you're creating a much more desirable local ecosystem to support their needs.

There are some tips out there to make raking leaves easier, and that means clearing away that pile as well. Doing so could help you avoid welcoming pests like snakes, as well as spiders, centipedes, and ticks into your yard.

Why snakes like leaf piles

Snakes are often on the prowl for food sources, and no matter which type you find moving through your yard, many will begin looking for places to stay warm once a chill enters the air. Fall provides some benefits to snakes. The sunlight helps them to take advantage of a longer hunting season, allowing them to look for food more aggressively to prepare for winter. Yet, that cold air and night mean they need to find shelter, and your pile of leaves is the perfect place to do that.

Snakes also benefit from leaves because of their multiple colors. It's hard to pick out a snake in a pile of leaves, and that means more protection from their predators. When you leave a pile of leaves, even a smaller one, in your yard, it's unlikely you'll be able to spot the reptiles yourself.

Once the cold weather really sets in, snakes go into brumation, a hibernation-like state. This state slows down their metabolism to conserve their energy. When this happens, they need to have a safe place to remain. If your leaf pile remains over the winter months, it's creating layers of insulation over the snake's hibernacula, which is a term used to describe the burrows these critters create. That's going to provide them with more protection. It also means they'll be spending the winter close to you.

How to avoid attracting snakes to your yard

As noted, snakes are on a mission to find warmth at night and prey during the day. Your leaf pile is a good spot, especially if you have any of their favorite foods, like rodents, nearby. This fall, as you work to rake up leaves in your backyard, don't stop with just making piles. Instead, remove the leaves fully from the yard. You can drop them off at your recycling center in some areas. If you cannot remove them from the yard, make sure you're pushing them away from the home. Then, when the time comes to clean up this area in the spring, remember that snakes could be lurking under the area.

There are a lot of benefits to not raking up dead leaves as well, which means avoiding those big piles of insulative warmth snakes like. Instead, let the leaves remain where they fall. This doesn't harm the grass and may even support other critters, including pollinators, into the later portion of the season. A few leaves under the tree don't create enough shelter for snakes, but they can help work as a natural fertilizer for your lawn. It also means that there's less work for you to do this weekend.