What can be done to discourage northern water snakes from living in a dock?
An exposed crib dock – close to water, full of sun-warmed rocks for basking on and cozy crevices for hiding in – comes pretty close to a water snake’s idea of paradise.
No known chemical repellents work against snakes, and physical barriers are often impractical. Short of dismantling the dock completely, there’s not much you can do to prevent them from gathering there. Instead, take the opportunity to learn more about your cohabitants. Northern water snakes are common throughout cottage country, feeding on frogs, fish, and tadpoles. They’re superb swimmers with a reputation for being inquisitive while in the water. They may approach human swimmers to check them out, but are not aggressive and prefer to swim (or on land, slither) away from danger.
If handled or threatened, water snakes can inflict a painful (but not venomous) bite. They are otherwise harmless, as well as fascinating. And as a species, they’re running out of habitat at an alarming rate, so appreciation and peaceful coexistence are your best options.