Wildlife: Snakes

Are you experiencing an issue with wildlife in your area?  If you have an urgent concern, please get in touch with us right away.  If you are looking for more information, please click on one of the questions below to expand the content and find your answer.  If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at DFW Wildlife Coalition.

Finding a snake in your yard or patio can stop you in your tracks. One of the most common snakes found is the Texas Rat Snake, which is non-venomous. The Texas Rat Snake is a large imposing, but harmless snake, that will also climb trees, buildings, etc. They can be 4 to 6 feet long. They eat mice, rats, bird eggs, and birds. When cornered or frightened, the rat snake will vibrate the tip of its tail rapidly mimicking a rattlesnake, however there are no rattles on the tip.

Notice tip of tail has rattlers, this is a rattlesnake. Head will be arrowhead shape with venomous snakes, such as rattlesnake, copperhead, or water moccasin.

This is a Rat Snake. The tail is slender and has no rattlers, however the rat snake will vibrate their tail to mimic a rattlesnake when they feel threatened. The head will be slightly smaller than their body.

Austin Reptile Services is an excellent link for information and photographs to identify. Texas Rat Snake-https://www.austinreptileservice.net/txrat.html
Additional photos of Texas Rat Snake,
Or, a video of the rat snake.

OR, if not a Texas Rat Snake, proceed to this link for further guidance on identifying the snake.

All snakes are beneficial to our environments. Provided the non-poisonous snake is not in your home or building it should be left alone. The snake will most likely retreat when discovered. If outside, gently encourage the snake to move on by squirting lightly with a water hose or herd with a broom. Normally, you will not see the snake again. If you do, it is because there is a food source most likely mice or rats. Read FAQ: How to discourage snakes in your yard.

Thank you for being a caring person and for taking the time to save wildlife! Once you have identified an animal in need of care, it will be necessary to contain the animal so that it can be safely transported to a permitted animal rehabilitator. Only adults should handle wildlife, provided it can be done safely.

Steps in the Transport Process:

  1. Choose an appropriate container for transport.
    Containers need to be chosen based on the wildlife being rescued/transported. For tiny to small animals, a shoe box with a few extra air holes poked from the inside out works well. For medium to older babies, use a small to medium pet carrier or larger box. If using a pet carrier, cover the carrier to make the inside dark.  For adult animals, be sure the container has a lid and that the animal cannot chew through or get out of the container. Remember darkness helps the animal to relax. Never transport with an open container!
  2. Prepare your container
    Provide soft bedding. An old T-shirt or similar fabric is ideal. Avoid fabrics with large loops or an extremely open weave. Towels, terry cloth, and similar fabrics have threads that can get wrapped around little toes and ankles and cut off circulation.
  3. Placing animals in the container
    For baby animals, use an old T-shirt or wear gloves to gently pick up and place the baby wildlife in the container.  Older wildlife will definitely require gloves and the T-shirt or a towel In order to have adequate fabric between you and the terrified animal.  The towel serves two purposes: aids in protecting your hands and covers the little animal’s eyes to make it less afraid as you pick up and place in the container.
  4. Provide heat source.  Read FAQ “Ways to provide heat for orphaned or injured wild animal”.
  5. Reach out to a professional.
    Contact DFW Wildlife Coalition hotline 972-234-9453 or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator for instructions and information on when and where to transport. The hotline is staffed by volunteers and rehabilitators might be caring for animals when you call. It may take an hour or so for a return phone call. Until then, keep the container in a quite dark place away from family pets and children.
  6. Be prepared to transport as soon as possible.
    If you are personally unavailable, check with friends, family, or neighbors.  Often there is someone willing to participate in the rescue. If you still are having difficulty check with your HOA, neighborhood app or Facebook.  Uber is an option as well.
  7. During the transport process:
    ** Please refrain from using the radio while driving. The little life you are transporting is very afraid and the radio will only add to its stress.
    ** Please do not transport in the bed of a pickup truck! Wind, road noise, and extreme temperatures could further compromise the animal.
  8. Meeting the Rehabber:
    When meeting the rehabilitation professional and handing off the animal, please remember to give details of the rescue to the rehabber.
    ** A donation towards the care of the animal would also be deeply appreciated by the rehabber. Rehabilitators do not receive assistance from city or state agencies.

Thank you for being a caring person and for taking the time to save wildlife!

Saving a life begins with making sure an orphaned or injured animal has heat. Begin by providing soft bedding for the animal you are rescuing. An old T-shirt or similar fabric is ideal. Avoid fabrics with large loops or an extremely open weave. Towels, terry cloth, and similar fabrics have threads that can get wrapped around little toes and ankles and cut off circulation.

Once you have provided bedding, the next step is to supply warmth. Holding or placing an animal in your pocket is not an adequate or safe way to keep the baby warm.  It is also terrifying for the animal. Remember, to the animal you are rescuing, you are a predator!

Warming techniques:

  • Place 1 cup of uncooked rice in a sock and tie or rubber band the open end. Place in the microwave for 1 minute. If not warm, heat another 30-60 seconds until the sock is warm but NOT HOT. If you don’t have rice, try lentils or similar product.
  • Put hot water in a bottle and place the bottle in a sock. This is a good solution if you are traveling or at the office.
  • If it will be several hours until you can transport the animal to a rehabilitator, use a heating pad set on low.  It is very important to place heating pad under one half of the container only so that the animal can choose the side of the container it prefers.  When checking on the baby, it should be warm but not sweaty or hot.
    • CAUTION: Newer heating pads have automatic shut offs that you may need to monitor if you are keeping the animal overnight.  

The rice sock or hot water bottle will travel with the animal as you are transporting to a wildlife rehabilitator.  Each can be reheated as needed and normally they will each hold the temperature long enough to transport the animal to safety.

There are several options for you as you begin your search for professional help for an animal in need. Remember, the wild animal you have rescued should be respected as such. Please keep children and pets away from wild animals


  • DFW Wildlife Coalition telephone hotline 972-234-WILD or 972-234-9453
    Hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days per year.  Our 100{376de46712742e812dd3d98559fb34c156542d2d9d295b06b04bc04c2527f5a7} volunteer operated hotline will assist in finding a wildlife rehabilitator that specializes in the wildlife or type of injury, orphaned, and or conflict or concern you may have.  
  • Animal Help Now (www.ahnow.org)
    If you have called the DFW Wildlife Coalition and it is after hours, you cannot reach a volunteer, or you live outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas and surrounding counties, you may find a wildlife rehabilitator at Animal Help Now website (www.ahnow.org).  Animal Help Now is a national database of wildlife or veterinarian professionals.


You may download Animal Help Now, free application for either iPhone or Android called “Animal Help Now”.  This app will work on GPS lists wildlife rehabilitators or veterinarians based on hours of operation.  You may need to search in surrounding cities or counties. If you are searching late at night, you may want to check again in the morning in the event there are other options.  

If you cannot locate a rehabilitator or transport the animal immediately, provide heat all night and do not attempt to feed.  Most animals will not eat when in pain and you can do more harm than good by force feeding or providing food. Please refrain from handling needlessly. Remember, you are a predator and may be causing undo stress and fear.  Prey species can die from stress.  

As tempting as it might be to keep the animal and attempt to care for it yourself, please remember that it is illegal to keep a wild animal. Delay in transporting may be the difference in life or death and the animals best chance at survival rests with being placed with a permitted professional.  If you delay, you might compromise the recovery of the animal you have rescued.



  • Be prepared to transport as quickly as possible once you have located a rehabilitation professional.  If you know that you cannot do so, please reach out to neighbors, family and friends for help in transporting the life you have rescued. Wildlife rehabilitators have their hands full providing feedings, medical attention, and husbandry to the animals in their care; they typically do not have the time or volunteers to pick up wildlife.  If you still cannot locate transportation, please reach out to friends in your HOA, neighborhood app, or Facebook. Uber might also be an option for transport.
  • Once you have placed your animal with the rehabber and provided information about its history with you, please donate to the wildlife rehabilitator as they do not receive assistance from city or state agencies.

Thank you for being a caring person and for taking the time to save wildlife!

Remain calm! Do not agitate or cause the snake to go into hiding.
First, what kind of snake is in your home? Use this link to determine what species of snake.
If you know the snake is nonpoisonous,
  • it may be possible to take a push broom and gently herd it out the door
If you are not sure if the snake is poisonous or not, and an adult can safely do so,
  • gently place a pail or trash can over the snake and put a weight on it
  • close off the room and place a barrier so that the snake cannot crawl under the door
  • consider creating a barrier with boxes or boards to contain the snake
Once the snake is contained, contact your local animal services or a professional pest control operator. In some cities the police or fire department may respond to a snake in a home.
Remember snakes are beneficial to our environment. Poisonous snakes need to be removed by a professional for the safety of our families and pets. Non-poisonous snakes should be allowed to go on their way.
As with all unwanted wild animal encounters, you must be proactive in discouraging visits. Read FAQ: How I can discourage snakes in my yard?
For all those intriguing questions you have about snakes and didn’t know where to look, Texas Parks and Wildlife-Snake FAQ”.
As with all your wild urban neighbors, to discourage snakes you will need to address possible areas used for shelter and food sources.
  • Shelter could be a wood/brush pile, stack of building materials, over grown landscaping, access under or through cracks in a deck or out building, compost/mulch. Modifications to prevent access of these potential shelters will make your yard less inviting.
  • Inspect your home from the ground level around your foundation and any plumbing. Be sure all plumbing openings have been secured in your laundry room, bath room and kitchen.
  • Removal of food sources for rodents and insects, such as bird feeders, uncontained garbage, pet food left out, or food items stored in a garage or out building, or waste in a compost pile.
  • Embrace the benefits of some of your mammal wild neighbors such as the opossum and skunk. Both are immune to the venom of poisonous snakes and actively hunt and eat snakes. Remember keeping a balance of predator and prey keeps our environments balanced.
For additional recommendations on discouraging snakes read FAQ: Interesting information on snakes. The link provided from Texas Parks and Wildlife has a “FAQ: How can I discourage snakes from coming into my yard?”