I knew this was a bad idea.....

I knew this was a bad idea at the time. I should have done something right away, but I didn’t.

A couple weeks ago, my lovely bride, The River Princess, got out her riding mower, put on her walkman [and took off her clothing—she mows in the nude] and cut our 10 acres of grass for the 1st time in 2008. So far, so good.

When she came up to our “camping barge” [a 17’ aluminum canoe made by Sylvan] she moved the canoe and leaned it up against an old stack of firewood. I should have moved the boat to a better spot when I got home later that day. I didn’t. Until today it has leaned against the old woodpile.

When I moved it down to the river today I found 2 small wasp nests in it. No big deal. Worse was the infestation of ants under the aft deck. Also not a big deal—I have chemical weapons to deal with wasps and ants. A more difficult problem is this—a blacksnake has made his/her home under that same aft deck. Snakes are not a problem for me. I am cool with reptiles. However, I don’t know how to get him/her out of there. I don’t want this snake to die in there and stink to the high heavens.

My question is this:

In both the fore and aft decks of this old aluminum canoe is a closed compartment containing some type of old-tech Styrofoam. We are talking about a volume of probably a few gallons of space. I’m guessing this is for flotation in case the boat capsizes. But how much difference could this truly make? I’m thinking of removing the few rivets that hold the sheet metal [which holds the Styrofoam in place] and opening up that space under the fore and aft decks. If I do this I will never have to worry about bugs, or mice, or snakes, or “gray things” crawling up in there and dying in the future—plus I would gain a few gallons of storage space for when we go camping. But will doing this undermine the physical integrity of the canoe?

Thanks for your input.


You could smoke it out.

Maybe water
I wonder if he would come out if you submerge him .


How about a pic of that river princess mowing the lawn? You can’t make a statement like that without backing it up with a pic.

If the smoke doesn’t work fill the canoe up with water.


I have a failsafe cure
…but I have to make an analysis of the site, and for some reason the best time is while the lawn is being cut.

Good Idea…
Filling the canoe with water is a twofer…drives out the pests, and you can check the boat for leaks…(old alum boats tend to begin seeping around the rivets after a while…)

That flotation is so the boat doesn’t sink when submerged. You can take it out but if you fill up the boat where the water is deep…

It may be as easy as moving the boat.
The snake will come out to eat and may move on. Put it up on sawhorses and it is even less likely to return.

gasoline vapors
We drove snakes out of all sorts of holes with gasoline vapors. A little gasoline goes a long way but it might dissolve the styrofoam. I’ve also heard of folks keeping snakes away with moth balls, But I know gasoline works quickly.

Gasoline = bad
Gasoline is a really bad idea. In most places it’s considered illegal to use gasoline in such a manner because it violates numerous EPA regulations as well as the Clean Water Act. Besides that, studies have shown that rattlesnakes that were gassed by collectors for rattlesnake roundups frequently suffer at the very least impaired ability to hunt after exposure to the fumes at the worst permanent brain damage or death. It’s not the snake’s fault that a perfect shelter was provided for it. It will probably leave on its own when it gets hungry or it could be driven out possibly by filling the canoe with water as we mentioned previously. Also as mentioned previously, keeping it off the ground will make it less likely to be used for shelter again.

The snake will be fine…

– Last Updated: May-24-08 1:04 AM EST –

I’m not worried much about the snake. He will certainly come out on his own.

The idea about forcing him out with water is excellent though! I hadn't thought of that one.

Yes, storing the boat up off the ground is the way to go. As I mentioned, it was a bad idea for me to allow it to lean against the old woodpile for so long. Normally I don’t do that, but it was springtime, I was busy with other stuff, and I just never got around to moving it until today.

The snake found a really good shelter in the stern of that aluminum canoe---OR---today I just happened to find him when he was in there eating a family of mice. Mice are notorious for getting up under boats and what not.

Anyhow, my question was really about whether or not I can remove the sheet metal bulkheads and the old crumbling Styrofoam without messing up the integrity of the canoe. TommyC1 seems to think I would be okay doing this. [This is a river camping barge and I don't think we're ever in water more than 6' or so during camping season.]

It would be nice to have access to those areas---critters wouldn’t be able to hide up in there, plus [we mostly use this boat for camping] I’d have a few cubic feet of extra stowage space.

I guess I could try removing them. If I find that the boat loses too much strength, I could put new foam in there and re-rivet the bulkheads into place.

Pics of The River Princess? She is not shy. I think she’ll be back on the mower sometime next week. If I can get a shot of her that won’t be banned by the internet censors, I can post it then.


Crumbling Styrofoam?
If the foam is in bad shape, by all means, remove the deck plates and take it out. Then find a big block of replacement foam and trim it to fit the space, and replace the decking. It’s not a good idea to use an aluminum canoe without floatation.

Were those carpenter ants or some other kind? Carpenter ants normally nest in rotting wood, but styrofoam seems to suit their needs very well because like rotting wood, it’s soft and easy to chew tunnels into. If carpenter ants have been nesting in the boat, you can bet that the styrofoam is riddled with tunnels and galleries. Do you see bits of styrofoam falling out? Some other kinds of ants seem to be happy nesting in the space between the foam and the hull.

The Irish answer to your problem.
Aye…yee be need’n a wee statue of our venerable Saint Patrick to mount on yer bow. If he can drive snakes from our fair Emerald Isle than your black snake doesn’t stand a chance.

And you must also have the luck of the Irish to have a lass that tends to the lawn with no knickers. :slight_smile:

Foam and ants and flotation
I can definitely testify to carpenter ants and foam. I’ve done alot of remodeling and have discovered carpenter ants in numerous foamboard insulated foundations. The foam looks like an ant farm when you expose it and is quite pretty actually.

I’ve got an old aluminum Grumman with the same setup- bulkheads at the bow and the stern seat with foam inside. I’ve often wondered if the foam was still there after all these years and, of course, have not taken the time to try to sink the boat to see if it still works. It’s there for flotation, and the boat will sink if filled with water. I helped build some fiberglass canoes many years ago, and we used a spray foam of some sort for the flotation- very simple and easy- this was way before the current spray foams on the market, but looked the same. There are also rigid foams for foundation insulation that have been treated with boric acid to make them more resistant to insect damage, but this product is fairly new and I can’t tell you whether they really work or not. I’m very curious to see what you find when you drill out the rivets.

Snake-wise, I’d rather have snakes than mice. The snake will leave if you move the boat up onto horses.

I also had an exgirlfriend that enjoyed mowing in the nude. It was truly amazing how many guys could think of a reason to drop by when they heard her mower crank up. What was more amazing was that she didn’t make the connection between guy visits and her mowing and complained that they interrupted her work. Guess that’s why she’s an ex. Cheers

She mows the lawn in the nude?
I hope she wears sunglasses to protect her vision from overexposure to the sun!

Gardening is fun in the nude also.

Thanks for the replies…
We just got home from a 2-night river camping trip. We took the “barge”. We took both Labrador Retrievers. I think the snake had vacated before we set out.

Carpenter ants? I can’t know what their species was. They were quite small black ants. Yes, I sometimes find crumbling Styrofoam around these bulkheads, so I can picture tunnels throughout the Styrofoam blocks. I’m not sure how old this canoe is, but I would guess it is from the 1970s.

I know for a fact I had at least one mouse up in there a few years ago. I was out on the water when one of those little rodents scurried across the bottom of the boat. I scooped him out into the river. They’re fairly good swimmers. Lucky for him there were no bass or pikes paying attention as he swam to shore.

Yes, I agree with you, kblackyak, I would much rather have snakes than mice in my boat. Snakes are just seeking shelter or food. Mice will destroy stuff while building their nests.

Ness, she does wear sunglasses. Ha ha. She has, however, been sunburned occasionally while mowing. Ouch!

And gardening is good in the nude too, Birdiewi.