General Information

San Diego has a variety of native snakes and lizards, and some turtles and tortoise native to California.  San Diego Wildlife Center does not work with reptiles but here are a few tips for co-existing with snakes.

Please note: Native reptiles are protected and can’t be kept as pets.


Most reptiles will move on if startled.  If you are dealing with snakes see below for ways to co-exist.

Snakes cause few problems, and the few they do are relatively benign. Some of the larger species may cause problems around poultry houses, occasionally taking chicks or eggs, but—except for the Most encounters with snakes are passing, but when one does occur, be sure to:

  • Leave the snake alone.
  • Identify it by species.
  • Continue to leave it alone so long as it is not venomous and not inside a house or building.

All outdoor (even in your yard) encounters with nonvenomous snakes should be resolved by letting the animal go its own way, most likely to never be seen again.

Venomous snakes are another matter. If you encounter a venomous snake in your yard, take it seriously. The snake should be removed to ensure that no one, including pets, gets hurt. Note: This does not mean the snake has to be killed. This is the one species that can be legally re-located by a professional and not harmed.


Ways to Discourage

Habitat management is the best way to avoid an encounter with a snake in your yard or home. Reduce the chance of a snake moving in your yard by making it less attractive (to snakes, at least). Remove potential hiding places for both snakes and their prey including:

  • Piles of rocks, wood, or other debris.
  • Tall grass and undergrowth.
  • Cracks around concrete porches and sidewalks.
  • Storage sheds with space under the floor.

Pet foods and household garbage left outside overnight attract rodents, which, in turn, may attract snakes.