Rattlesnake Fencing: Does it Actually Work?

does rattlesnake fencing actually work

Written by Brandi Allred

Updated: January 13, 2024

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Key Points

  • If a rattlesnake can find food in your vicinity such as mice or rats, they may venture into your yard.
  • In general, the best ways to keep rattlesnakes away are to either block passages with fine-mesh fencing or make your walls unclimbable.
  • You can eliminate a rattlesnake’s food source by keeping up on rodent extermination in and around your home.

For many of us, snakes are the stuff of nightmares. Rattlesnakes, with their hemotoxic venom, are especially scary. This is particularly true if you live in a place with a large population of rattlesnakes slithering around. You may be grateful to them for keeping the rodent population down, but that doesn’t mean you want them hanging out in your backyard. For many, rattlesnake fencing seems to be the answer, but, does it actually work?

Rattlesnakes are ancient predators, designed to coil and strike in under half a second. They’re perhaps most fearsome to small creatures like mice and rats, and are hunted by kingsnakes, roadrunners, and humans. They don’t generally want to interact with people, but they will go wherever the food is, and sometimes this draws them into places we would rather not have them. If you’re a homeowner, the last place you want to see a rattlesnake is in your backyard.

Here, we’ll learn a little more about what rattlesnakes are, and how to recognize them. Then, we’ll go over rattlesnake fencing—what it is, what it’s made of, and whether or not it really works. Then, we’ll take a look at a few alternatives for keeping rattlesnakes out of your yard, and explore whether or not rattlesnake fencing is a good option for you.

Where Do Rattlesnakes Live, and What Do They Look Like?

Mojave Rattlesnake

The Mojave rattlesnake, including both of its subspecies, typically grows to between 3.3 ft and 4.5 ft in length.

©Creeping Things/Shutterstock.com

Rattlesnakes are most common in arid regions like the desert southwest and hot, humid places like the southeastern United States. They’re highly adaptable and can live in almost any environment that provides enough food for them. The one exception to this is aquatic and semi-aquatic places, like wetlands, ponds, and streams. Rattlesnakes can swim, but they eat mainly rodents, not amphibians.

If you see a snake, how do you tell if it’s a rattler? Your first indication should be the rattle, located at the tip of the tail and used to warn off would-be threats, like humans or dogs. Next, look for the characteristic diamond pattern in the scales—rattlesnakes are usually yellow-brown color with darker and lighter bands forming the diamond markings. One final way to recognize a rattlesnake is by looking at the head; rattlesnake heads are extremely wide at the base, much wider than their necks.

What is Rattlesnake Fencing?

A barrier set up to prevent rattlesnakes is called a rattlesnake fencing.

©Isabel Eve/Shutterstock.com

Rattlesnake fencing is any kind of barrier that is put up to prevent rattlesnakes—or any type of snake for that matter—from entering an enclosed area. It can be made of either wood, steel, or mesh. The most important aspect of rattlesnake fencing is that it creates a fully enclosed barrier against snakes; any gap or hole in the fencing gives rattlesnakes a means of entrance.

What Kind of Fence Will Keep Rattlesnakes Out?

When it comes to keeping rattlesnakes out, you either want to block passage or make your walls unclimbable. Rattlesnakes can fit their bodies through small spaces, so fine mesh fencing works—as long as the mesh is fine enough, and the snakes aren’t too small. 

Rattlesnakes are good climbers; they can climb many rocky surfaces and even trees. But, they can’t get enough traction on smooth materials like steel and treated wood to climb effectively. So, the alternative to mesh rattlesnake fencing is very smooth, vertical wood or steel. 

Other types of fencing, like chain link, will not keep rattlesnakes out. Not only can they climb it, if they’re small enough, they can go right through it.

Does Rattlesnake Fencing Really Work?

Rattlesnake fencing, if done properly, is an excellent deterrent against rattlesnakes. It’s a popular choice in rattlesnake country for protecting homes and businesses. It’s especially important for homes with pets or small children. As long as the rattlesnake fencing is flush with the ground, leaves no gaps, and is made of the right material, it should stop any rattlesnake that wants to come in.

Can a Rattlesnake Climb a Fence?

Yes, rattlesnakes can climb some types of fence. However, rattlesnake fencing is specifically designed so that rattlers can’t climb it. The key here is to ensure that your rattlesnake fencing is either made of fine mesh, or smooth wood or steel.

What Size Mesh Keeps Rattlesnakes Out?

If you decide to go with mesh rattlesnake fencing, choose either galvanized wire or aluminum mesh. These materials hold up well, though they may be a little pricey. The size of the holes in the mesh should be no more than ¼ inch – any larger, and rattlesnakes can slither right on through.

Other Ways to Keep Rattlesnakes Out of Your Yard

western diamondback eating mouse

Taking care of rodent infestations can help keep rattlesnakes away.

©Audrey Snider-Bell/Shutterstock.com

Rattlesnakes go where the food is, so one of the first things you can do to rattlesnake-proof your property is to eliminate the food. This means taking care of any rodent infestations you may have. Ensure that you don’t have piles of wood or debris for rodents to live in, or sources of food—like seeds or bird feed—to attract rodents. 

Once you’ve made your yard inhospitable to rodents, the next step is to make it inhospitable to rattlesnakes. Commercial snake repellent products have no proven efficacy when it comes to repelling rattlesnakes, so your best bet is to keep your yard clear of rattlesnake-sized hiding places.

Places where you’d be likely to find a lurking rattlesnake would be unused planters, lawn equipment, storage containers, tall grassy areas, and places where dampness can collect in your yard. Identifying these spots and making them less snake-friendly can make all the difference.

Should You buy Rattlesnake Fencing?

A properly installed rattlesnake fence is an excellent deterrent against rattlesnakes.

©Isabel Eve/Shutterstock.com

Rattlesnake fencing is a good idea if you live in a place with a high population of rattlesnakes. If you continually encounter rattlers on your property, a properly installed rattlesnake fence can make all the difference. If you have small children or pets to keep safe, consider a rattlesnake fence. But, if you’ve never seen a rattlesnake on or near your property, or they’re not common where you live, don’t waste your money on keeping out something that isn’t there.

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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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