Chances are your garage is filled to the brim with items you're storing for one reason or another. Spring cleaning aside, you're probably not sifting through that clutter often—which can make it a perfect hiding place for pests. In fact, experts say there is one thing that people commonly leave in their garage that is likely to attract one of the most frightening animal intruders of all: snakes. Read on to find out what one item you need to start storing elsewhere.
Leaving cat or dog food in your garage could attract snakes.
If you have cat or dog food sitting in your garage right now, you should probably bring it inside. Aqsa Tabassam, a gardener and landscaper with more than 10 years of experience, says leaving pet food out in your garage is likely to attract snakes—but not directly.
"Snakes do not like cat or dog food, but these foods usually attract rodents, and a snake's primary diet consists of eating mice and rats," Tabassam explains. "So, leaving out cat and dog food triggers this chain reaction where your garage might be infested by rodents and then snakes, as they look to find food for themselves."
Snakes may be directly attracted to pet foods that give off odors of fish, but the scent has to be relatively fresh, Tabassam says. On the other hand, Daniel Caughill, a pet expert and co-founder of The Dog Tale, points out that attracting vermin is a risk in itself. "Rats and mice can carry fleas, ticks, and disease, and you don't want them anywhere near your home or pets," he says.
Larger snakes are more likely to come after these rodents.
While you may get the occasional garter snake slithering into your garage, leaving your pet food out is actually more likely to attract some larger snakes. Chyrle Bonk, DVM, the veterinary spokesperson for Doggie Designer, says that while all snakes are carnivorous, they don't all eat rodents. So smaller snakes, like garter snakes, are less likely to be attracted to the mice and rats that linger around pet food.
"Rather, what you'll end up with are the larger snakes, such as rat, bull, and rattlesnakes. Some of these snakes have a poisonous bite, so it's important to be careful and use caution when trying to get them out of your yard or garage," Bonk explains.
Experts say you should store your pet food inside your the house.
Emma Sophie, a gardener who runs the gardening blog Evergreenseeds, says the safest way to prevent snakes from finding their way into your home is to store your pet food inside instead. Keeping this food indoors helps keep it further from outside pests, and away from drain and pipes in the garage that may connect to the sewer where snakes can enter, says Jill Sandy, a gardener and founder of Constant Delights.
"The safest place to store pet food is on a high shelf in the pantry or the refrigerator, where it can't be exposed to the outdoors," Sandy says.
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If you have to store pet food outside, make sure to use rodent-proof containers.
You may have nowhere else to store your pet food than your garage—but that doesn't mean you can't take extra steps to protect yourself. Clive Harris, a gardener and creator of DIY Garden, says that you should store your cat or dog food in airtight containers, which help make things more rodent-proof. These airtight containers leave "no room for smells or pieces of the food to escape," which means rodents and consequently snakes will not be attracted to your garage, says Megan Cavanaugh, a co-owner of pest control company Done Right Pest Solutions. Sophie also recommends that you maintain a feeding schedule for your pets in this case, as it eliminates your need to leave any food out unattended.