Will .22 Rat Shot Kill a Snake?

In the tangled world of wildlife encounters, where danger often lurks in unexpected places, the .22 rat shot emerges as a unique and intriguing solution. Killing snakes with .22 rat shot — a tale of precision and potency, where the tiniest caliber holds the power to tip the balance between life and death for a reason. Join me to unravel the nuances of this fascinating intersection between ammunition, accuracy, and the pursuit of harmony of .22 Snake or Rat shot.

How Far Is 22 Snake or Rat Shot Effective?

The effective range of .22 rat shot ammunition is relatively short, typically within a few meters or yards. The spread of shot pellets from rat shot cartridges occurs quickly after firing, and the energy of the pellets diminishes as they travel further from the muzzle. As a result, the effectiveness of rat or snake shots drops significantly beyond close ranges.

The exact effective range can vary based on factors such as the specific firearm, the cartridge’s design, and the type of snake shot used. But a common estimate is that .22 rat shot is effective up to about 3 meters (approximately 10 feet) from the muzzle. Beyond this distance, the shot pattern becomes too dispersed to reliably hit small targets like pests or snakes.

For longer distances, traditional ammunition with solid bullets would be more appropriate. Because they are designed to maintain accuracy and energy over greater ranges. It’s important to understand the limitations of .22 rat shot ammunition and use it only within its intended close-range applications.

Will .22 Rat Shot Kill a Snake?

Yes, a .22 rat shot cartridge can be effective at killing a snake, particularly at close ranges. The shot-filled canisters in the cartridge spread out upon firing, creating a pattern of small pellets that can hit the snake and cause fatal injuries. But the effectiveness of a rat shot against a snake depends on several factors like the distance from which you’re shooting, the size and species of the snake, and shot placement.

At very close ranges (such as a few meters or less), a .22 rat shot cartridge can deliver enough energy to quickly dispatch a snake. Snakes have relatively small and delicate heads, so even small pellets from the rat shot can penetrate and cause significant damage to vital organs.

Rat shot is designed for close-range pest control, targeting small creatures like rats, mice, and pests. When used against snakes, particularly smaller ones, shot placement becomes crucial. If the shot pellets hit vital areas like the head or vital organs, they can cause significant damage and potentially lead to the snake’s death.

Larger or more resilient snake species might not be as immediately affected by .22 Rat Shot due to their size and toughness. Additionally, shot placement becomes more critical as the snake’s size increases.

What About the Big Size Snake like Python or Anaconda?

For larger snake species like Pythons or Anacondas, .22 Rat Shot is unlikely to be an effective method for dispatching or controlling them. These snake species are significantly larger and more resilient than the smaller pests that rat shot is typically used for. Here are some reasons why .22 Rat Shot is not suitable for dealing with large snakes like Pythons or Anacondas.

  • Size and Toughness: Pythons and Anacondas are large and robust snakes with tough scales and strong muscles. The small pellets from .22 Rat Shot may not penetrate deeply enough to cause fatal injuries to these larger snakes.
  • Shot Placement: Effective shot placement becomes even more challenging with larger snakes due to their size and anatomy. Rat shot pellets hitting non-vital areas may not deliver enough damage to incapacitate or kill the snake.
  • Distance: Larger snakes like Pythons and Anacondas are often encountered at longer distances than the very close ranges rat shot is designed for. The effectiveness of rat shots diminishes significantly with distance.
  • Ethical Considerations: Using inadequate ammunition that doesn’t deliver a swift and humane death can lead to unnecessary suffering for the animal. Ethical treatment of animals, even in situations where they’re considered pests, is important.

Suitable Type of Ammo and Guns for Killing Snake

When using snake shot ammunition for killing snakes, it’s important to consider the type of ammunition, firearm, and specific circumstances to ensure both safety and effectiveness. Here’s what you should consider-


For snake control, you’ll want to use snake shot cartridges that are specifically designed for the purpose. These cartridges contain small lead shot pellets or BBs that disperse upon firing, creating a pattern that increases the chances of hitting a small and agile target like a snake.


The choice of a firearm depends on the snake species, your environment, and your personal preferences. Here are some suitable firearm options.

  • Revolvers: Revolvers chambered in calibers such as .22 Long Rifle, .38 Special, or .357 Magnum are commonly used for snake shot ammunition. Revolvers are reliable and easy to use, making them suitable for close-range encounters.
  • Derringers: Derringers are compact, double-barreled handguns that are often chambered for small calibers like .22 Long Rifles. They are designed for short-range self-defense and pest control.
  • Single-Shot Handguns: Some single-shot handguns, particularly those chambered for .410 bore shotgun shells, can also be effective with snake shot cartridges. These handguns offer greater versatility due to their ability to fire both shotshells and regular cartridges.
  • Small-Bore Shotguns: Certain shotguns, such as those chambered in .410 bore, can be effective for snake shots. However, the spread might be wider than with handguns due to the larger shot charge of a shotgun shell, potentially making accurate shot placement more challenging.

Effectiveness and Lethal Power of .22 Rat Shot

Let’s break down some key points, important characteristics, and misconceptions about .22 Rat Shot ammunition.

  1. Low Lethality: .22 Rat Shot ammunition is relatively weak and ineffective as a lethal round. The shotshell .22LR is designed for very close-range pest control, targeting small creatures like rats, mice, and pests. Its primary purpose is to deter and dispatch pests rather than being a potent self-defense or hunting round.
  2. Shotgun Pellets in .22LR: .22 Rat Shot consists of shotgun pellets enclosed within a plastic case, which is then housed within a .22 Long Rifle cartridge. This combination results in a unique projectile designed for close-range encounters.
  3. Limited Penetration: The ammunition is said to lack the power to break through materials like drywall or flooring, indicating its limited penetration capabilities. This characteristic adds to its suitability for close-quarters pest control without causing excessive collateral damage.
  4. Spread and Effectiveness: The spread of a .22 Rat Shot at even a short distance is described as significant. This widespread can make it effective for small targets at point-blank ranges, such as rats, but its effectiveness diminishes quickly as distance increases.
  5. Potential Danger: Despite being relatively low-powered, there’s a note of caution about treating .22 Rat Shot ammunition too casually. Due to its speed and small size, it can cause pain and injury, particularly at close ranges. The risk arises when people underestimate its potential for causing harm.
  6. Recreational Shooting: Shooting .22 Rat Shot is enjoyable and entertaining, likely due to the unique characteristics of the ammunition and its spread pattern.
  7. Use in Self-Defense: The comparison to loading a shell with rock salt for intruder deterrence points out that .22 Rat Shot is not intended for lethal self-defense. It’s designed more for causing discomfort and discouraging further aggression rather than delivering incapacitating or life-threatening wounds.

The Key Take Aways

.22 Rat Shot ammunition is not designed to be a powerful or lethal round. It’s tailored for close-range pest control and may cause discomfort and pain. But its effectiveness drops significantly beyond very short distances.

Best firearms for using snake shots against snakes include revolvers, derringers, single-shot handguns, and small-bore shotguns. The choice of a firearm should be based on factors such as accuracy, distance, and comfort level. For larger snake species or those that pose a potential threat, seeking professional help from experts is a good choice though.

While it has its uses in specific contexts, it’s important to understand its limitations and not to underestimate its potential for causing harm, particularly at close ranges.