To save you from the guesswork, the resounding answer is yes! Snakes get a very bad reputation as creepy, slimy, lethal predators. Whether this comes from ancient references to them as evil and satanic, their unusual means of transportation or the fact that the worst of them are incredibly dangerous, remains unclear. The phrase “the only good snake is a dead snake,” is quite common in popular culture, but that’s actually not the kind of good snake we’re referring to. Even though most people associate all snakes with deadly, flesh eating bites, the number of non-venomous snakes in the US far outweighs the venomous ones. There are approximately 12 snake-bite related deaths in the United States every year and many of these occur as a result of humans handling or owning venomous snakes. Wanting to avoid close encounters with snakes is understandable, but we have a few enticing reasons why you should generally leave snakes alone.
Just to get this out of the way, the reason we are suggesting leaving all snakes alone, including venomous ones, is because if you come across a venomous snake, you greatly increase your chances of being bitten if you try to kill it. Many snake bites occur when humans are attempting to kill a snake because snakes, which will often avoid contact with us, will feel threatened and may strike. If somehow a snake gets into your home or you discover quite a few around your property, you should contact animal control or a professional pest control company to handle the problem.
Now on to the good guys. The overwhelming majority of snakes are harmless and can actually be beneficial in quite a few ways. One of the most convincing reasons not to kill non-venomous snakes is because they feed off other snakes, including venomous ones. One of the easiest ways to keep the dangerous snakes out of your yard is to leave the good ones alone. Snakes also eat a variety of other pests. Larger snakes eat rats, mice and other rodents. Snakes can also help protect your plants by feeding on a variety of insects, many of which cause problems in your lawn and garden. Finally, even though a non-venomous snake bite won’t cause you serious health problems, it still won’t feel very good and handling or attempting to kill one of these snakes may aggravate them enough to strike. As you can see, the benefits of these non-venomous critters are worth keeping them around despite your predisposition to hate all things that slither.