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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - July 12, 2011

From: Auburn, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pests
Title: Discouraging rattlesnakes in northern California
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Searching for information re: managing your garden to discourage snakes, especially rattlesnakes. I live in northern California and we have many. I found one of your articles, but the link to an U. of Miss. article on this very topic does not link. Could you please send me that link or tell me more about being a more informed gardner. I have heard that rosemary attracts them and am asking if this is true and what also can be done to discourage them. Thank You !!!

ANSWER:

Sorry the link to discouraging snakes did not work for you.  Here it is again.  I hope it connects this time.  The main points are to remove all potential hiding places for snakes and their prey. 

Most experts claim that plants do not thenselves attract or deter snakes.  But they may attract rodents or other favored snake prey.  So you should consider whether any of your plants might be in that category, e.g., if they produce edible fruit or nuts that fall to the ground.  One effective deterrent is the king snake, which eats rattlesnakes.  Keep them if found, but remember that the rattlesnake prey you should eliminate are also favorites of the king snake.

If you think you have more than one or two rattlesnakes, especially in early spring and fall, that raises the possibility of a rattlesnake den being in the vicinity.  Rattlesnakes den up for the winter in caves, sink holes and other sites protected from the cold and gradually disperse from that spot when warm weather arrives.  Get in touch with the Placer County Cooperative Extension Service personnel if you suspect that such sites may exist near you, and the officials can put you in touch with someone who knows how to look for dens.

Good luck, and watch where you step!

 

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