The Q&A Archives: Composting Hazards

Question: I live in a very wooded area. I am contemplating developing a compost bin to use my decaying leaves to their advantage. My husband is very concerned about atracting snakes in the bin area. Should this be a concern? Thank you.

Answer: In my experience, snakes will occasionally inhabit a mulch pile or wood pile and I suppose they could also inhabit a pile of decaying leaves. Although there are undoubtedly snakes in my own wooded acreage, it is only rarely that I even see one. In the garden, however, I often see garter snakes, and they are harmless. You could consider using the chopped leaves as a mulch layer rather than piling them up, that way you can obtain the benefits in soil development without particularly encouraging snakes. On the other hand, most snakes are not dangerous and actually can be helpful in controlling pests such as slugs and rodents. You might want to learn to identify the snakes in your local area so that you will not be unduly alarmed or worrying about them too much -- and will be prepared should you ever actually come across a bad one.

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