Snakes, even though they are beneficial to our environment, can creep out a lot of people, and that is why it is understandable to want to know what keeps snakes away from your home.
Speaking as someone who has extensive experience with snakes, there may be several methods to drive snakes away from your home, which may or may not be effective in your particular situation.
To keep snakes away from your home, use natural snake repellents such as lemongrass; apply chemical snake repellants like naphthalene; remove clutter in your surroundings; trim vegetation; control rodent and insect pests; eliminate cracks and gaps in your home; set traps; and get the help of professional exterminators.
Some or all of these may be effective, while some may not.
There are many who swear by the effectiveness of various methods, while some consider many of them ineffectual.
We will discuss the merits and disadvantages of the different methods in the following sections.
Signs of Snake Presence
Snakes usually come out of hiding when the average temperatures are in the range of 80 to 90º F, especially in summer and spring.
Their activity is highest during early morning as well as late afternoon because temperatures in summer are usually too hot in the hottest hours of the day.
During late summer to early fall, they will also be quite active prior to their brumation or hibernation. The former occurs in the warmer climate of the southern US, where snow is not common.
Snakes in brumation may become active in winter when days are warm, coming out and basking under the sun. It usually surprises many unsuspecting people to see basking snakes at this time.
Nesting snakes inside your home
You may detect strange noises in your home if snakes are present, though these sounds will differ from rat, mice, or squirrel sounds.
Sightings of snakes in the yard may indicate that they may make it inside your home. This will need immediate eradication measures.
Snakes can burrow into crawlspaces and walls to establish a nest, lay their eggs, and/or hibernate during the winter season.
They generally do not cause structural damage to the house, but they could be a risk for bites. In the county of San Diego, emergency calls by the hundreds occur every year due to rattlesnake problems.
Unless you are obsessed with snakes, which most people aren’t, you do not want them hibernating inside your house during the holidays.
The importance of getting rid of snakes
Most snake species are harmless to people.
In addition, venomous species such as rattlesnakes bite only when they are provoked. Nonetheless, most people are not comfortable with the idea of snakes in or around their property.
Also, even if you like snakes, they can be a danger to children and to pets. Every year, more pets get bitten, sometimes fatally, by snakes compared to humans.
How to detect snakes
Short of spotting the snakes themselves, there are other means by which evidence of their presence can be determined.
This may be a difficult task because they do not leave any damage to your home, unlike rodents.
In addition, once they are already inside your house, they usually stay hidden for entire months. Nonetheless, there are still signs you may see that show that snakes are present. These include the following:
- Shed skin. Snakes regularly shed skin as part of their growth. For healthy snakes, the skin is usually shed whole, as one entire piece of skin that is shaped distinctly like its owner’s body, complete with a head with eyes and clear patterns of its scales. It is dry and transparent. Alternately, it can also be seen as a crumpled, intact heap somewhere in your home’s wall entrances.
- Droppings. The fecal matter of snakes can appear similar to bird droppings but can also include the bones and hair of prey. Since birds rarely enter homes and walls, you can determine that these feces did not come from them. Meanwhile, mammalian feces such as those of rodents are very different in composition and shape.
- Odor: Many snakes emit a distinct, strange smell. The presence of such scents in crawlspaces and other areas may indicate snake presence.
- Snake tracks. It is possible to see the slithering tracks of snakes in crawlspaces and dusty areas, which indicate that a snake crawled through it.
How to Keep Snakes Away
Sightings of snakes in your surroundings may mean the beginnings of an infestation. You can start to prevent such an occurrence if you are relatively sure that they have not yet entered your home.
Inspect area around the house and prevent access
Scour the general area where a sighting has been seen, and try to look for nesting holes. Most people are not equipped with the expertise to deal with snake nests, especially venomous ones.
In this instance, you can note these spots instead and point them later to pest control professionals.
Rodent burrows mean that pests are poised to invade your home or have already done so. You can help eliminate them by filling these burrows with gravel or soil.
These burrows are also frequented by snakes both to catch rodent prey and use the burrows as resting and hiding places.
Since snakes are prone to hide in cool, dark, and damp places, your basement, utility room, laundry room, and crawlspaces – in other words, the lower areas of your home – have lots of ideal spaces for snakes.
Try to check these locations.
To be safe, probe behind clutter, appliances, and boxes using a long stick.
Inspect your home’s exterior and check for the presence of cracks and gaps through which snakes can access your home.
Try to seal all these crevices and openings. You may also install weather stripping under doors, which can keep cool air in while keeping snakes and other pests out.
Repair damaged pipes, ventilation ducts, and gutters. Replace or repair damaged door and window screens.
Remove potential hiding places
Snakes have been found to hide and live in holes, cracks, and crevices. Remove these hiding places to help prevent snakes from deciding to live in your surroundings.
Remove all the clutter which litter the surroundings, such as debris, woodpiles, trash, compost heaps, and other similar materials.
They tend to attract small mammals like rodents, which snakes like to eat, thus attracting snakes as well. These same areas are also attractive to snakes as cooling, hiding, and resting places.
Store your firewood in locked and sealed wooden boxes if possible. Remove piles of leaves, straw mulch, wood chip mulch, and others that are present around your home.
Trash may include food wastes that attract rodents. Clear them out as quickly and as often as possible.
Install snake fence and change the landscape
You can also make changes in your surroundings to discourage snakes. You can try to install snake-proof fences, which can be made of plastic sheeting, catch nets, or steel mesh.
Make sure that the fencing is well buried and is angled in an outward direction. Make it at least four feet deep and three feet high.
It may also be advisable to use materials that discourage snake movements, such as gravel, eggshells, pine cones, and holly leaves.
Here is the recommended snake fence:
Remove or trim trees, brush, and other tall vegetation around your home, which can serve as hiding places for snakes. Mow your lawn regularly and prevent weeds from taking over.
Use snake repellents
Hardware stores have various brands and types of chemical snake repellents with varying effectiveness. To learn more about commercial snake repellents check here.
You can also try home remedies like lemongrass, mothballs, and other repellant scents.
Some plants also serve as natural snake repellents. These include lemongrass, wormwood, and marigold.
Apply regular pest control measures
It is a fact that snakes offer many benefits to the environment.
Among their many contributions, one of the most important is their ability to keep populations of many rodent species under control. One snake can easily eat three to four mice at a time.
Depending on the species of snake, they also consume voles, moles, fish, insects, birds, and frogs.
In eliminating snakes, it is a good idea to consider removing these animals first.
If you can schedule a regular pest control program to keep your surroundings free from rodents and insects, it may keep out snakes as well because these animals serve as snake prey.
Rodents and insects attract snakes, and once these food sources are removed, snakes are less likely to hang around your immediate surroundings and will likely move on to other places to search for their food.
Set snake traps
One way of eliminating snakes in your area is to use traps.
There are a number of different traps that you can use, such as glue traps, which have the same principle as rodent traps, and maze or minnow traps, which entice snakes to enter but prevent them from exiting.
In setting traps, wear protective gear such as closed footwear, gloves, sleeves, and long pants. These will shield you relatively effectively from potential encounters with snakes.
The bites of non-venomous snakes can also be harmful as they can result in injuries that may need medical attention.
Also importantly, gloves will prevent any human scent from transferring to your trap. Such scents can prevent snakes from being caught in your trap.
Position your trap in areas where there have been sightings or where signs of snake activity and presence have been observed. These signs include shed snake skins and slithering dirt trails.
Apply camouflage on the trap using leaves, dirt, branches, and any natural materials. You may use one to two fresh eggs as bait since snakes do not consume carcasses. In addition, it may be hard to use live rodents as bait.
Routinely check your trap if it has already caught a snake. You may relocate trapped snakes a minimum of 10 miles away from your area in a location that is uninhabited by humans.
You may cover your trap to prevent seeing the snake in your trap during transport.
To release snakes from minnow and maze traps, open the trap at an orientation where the snake can exit your trap via a direction opposite from you.
For glue traps, you may use vegetable oil to dislodge the snake, pouring approximately one cup of the oil directly on the animal to release the creature.
Some experts do not advise the use of sticky traps outdoors and also frown on the idea of snake relocation. This is because sticky traps can catch other non-target animals, which can slowly and cruelly kill them.
As for relocating snakes, the majority of researchers found that snakes often die when they are relocated.
Use snake predators
Certain natural predators of snakes may keep them away.
These include raccoons and foxes. Keeping animals such as turkeys, guinea hens, hogs, and cats could also help keep them at bay.
If there are indigenous foxes in your area, their urine could serve as an excellent natural snake repellent if it is distributed around your home.
Smoke out snakes
You can take advantage of the ultra-sensitive sense of smell of snakes. They can easily be repelled by fumes and certain odors. In particular, they are repelled by smoke.
If you are allowed in your area, you can try to create a fire pit and allow the smoke to linger for many days. You can cover the pit’s embers with leaves and moss to maximize the smoke.
Call a pest exterminator
Call a professional pest exterminator.
If you are not a reptile expert, it is not advisable to remove snakes yourself because it is not always apparent which snake species are dangerous or not.
Snake removal specialists and professionals can properly identify venomous and harmless snake species. They also have the proper skills, tools, and experience to catch, handle, extract, and remove these animals from your immediate environment.
Considerations in using snake repellents
Some people advocate the use of snake repellents, while others do not. There are several products in the market, and if you are going to try them, it is important to use them properly.
Instructions on proper use are indicated on the product label. Improper use may cause hazards to pets and children, so be mindful of following the label instructions.
It is most convenient to administer granular repellents, while for liquid repellents, a little mixing may be necessary.
How to apply snake repellents
You can apply your chosen snake repellent by broadcasting over those areas where snakes have been sighted. For granular repellents, scatter the product evenly all over your target locations.
You may use a hand spreader if you have one. Alternately, you can shake it from its bag or bottle.
If the product is in liquid form, mix it according to instructions, then distribute it in the manner indicated on the manufacturer’s label.
After you have treated the areas frequented by snakes, apply the repellant product along a concentrated line, spreading it around your property’s perimeter. This will create a repellent barrier that will be unwillingly crossed by snakes.
Home Remedies for Keeping Away Snakes
It is true that obtaining the services of a snake and pest control professional may be the safest and most guaranteed way to get rid of snakes. However, to save up on some costs, you may also try some recommended home remedies for repelling the snakes in your property.
The advantages of home remedies include the following:
- Safe. A lot of home remedies touted to keep snakes at bay are safe and non-toxic both to pets and people, compared to commercial chemical repellent products.
- Easy to Make and Use. Many home remedies can be easily concocted and applied.
- Affordable. Many home remedies are considerably cheaper than commercial products as well as professional extermination services.
- Available. Many home remedies are composed of methods or ingredients that are easily obtained.
What smells do snakes hate?
Most of these are natural products that are easily found in your home or easily available in stores. They have been used as snake repellents and have been found to work by many people.
Determine what will work best for you. Some of them are enumerated below.
Do mothballs keep snakes away?
Naphthalene is a common component of many snake repellent chemical commercial products and is among the most common of snake repellents. It is also the main component of mothballs.
Naphthalene is irritating to snakes but does not harm them. You can put mothballs inside cracks, holes, crevices, and other places around your home where you have seen and think snakes go to.
Be careful in putting mothballs because they are toxic and can be fatal to pets and children when ingested. It might be better to avoid them altogether if you cannot prevent pets and children from getting access to them.
Does sulfur keep snakes away?
Try using powdered sulfur as a snake repellent by placing it around the property. As snakes slither on this material, their skin gets irritated so that they get discouraged from coming back.
It is advisable to wear a mask when applying sulfur because it has a strong smell.
Cinnamon oil and clove
Cinnamon oil and clove have also been used as snake repellent.
Mix them into a spray bottle, then directly spray it. Be cautious during application because the snake can run in the spray’s opposite direction towards you.
This concoction may also be utilized as an indoor diffuser and fumigant.
Onion and garlic
Onion and garlic contain sulfonic acid, which is a repellent to snakes.
This chemical is what makes you cry whenever you chop onions. You can mix onion and garlic with rock salt, then sprinkle the mixture around the yard and property.
Garlic can also be infused in essential oils for fumigating basements, rafters, and inaccessible areas.
Snakes are repelled by ammonia smell so that it can be sprayed around areas with a snake infestation. You may also soak rugs in ammonia then put them inside unsealed bags. Place these bags in areas where snakes live to compel them to go away.
Does vinegar keep snakes away?
You can use vinegar to repel snakes in areas with water bodies, which include swimming pools. Along the perimeter of these bodies of water, pour white vinegar as a natural repellent against snakes.
Mix lime with peppermint or hot pepper. Pour the mixture around your property’s perimeter. The mixture’s smell and its fumes are repellent and itchy on the skin of snakes.
Does diesel keep snakes away?
Some people have tried using diesel, and they say that it works.
Should these home remedies fail to work for you, you may step up the effort by buying commercial chemical snake repellents.
If they still fail to work, you may consider contracting the services of wildlife or pest control professionals that specialize in snake removal.
Rodent control and extermination professionals also complement the effort because rodents are inextricably tied to snakes and their ecology.
The Caveat on Snake Repellents
Some experts will disregard and consider snake repellents as useless.
According to them, companies are taking advantage of people’s widespread fear of snakes in order to sell ineffective products and services.
These experts go so far as to say that these products even increase the risk of danger in pets and children.
The likelihood that snakes will be seen in and around your home is dependent on many factors.
These include geographical location (north or south); if you live in urban or rural areas; your proximity to bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, and rivers; and the design of your garden and lawn and how you maintain them.
Those who do not advocate the use of snake repellents advise more practical ways of preventing and decreasing the likelihood of the occurrence of snakes around homes.
Such practical advice includes some of those we already discussed.
They advise the following:
- regularly mowing the lawn and keeping vegetation trimmed;
- not watering the lawn to prevent snake prey such as frogs, slugs, and worms from being attracted to the area;
- moving bird feeders far from home or removing it altogether to avoid attracting rodents;
- installing perch poles in open areas to attract birds of prey such as owls and hawks, which are natural predators of snakes. The pole should allow these birds an excellent view of your yard and property;
- feeding pets indoors to prevent food spillage from attracting snake prey. If you are feeding outdoors, clean up the uneaten food material immediately;
- removing clutter and piles;
- avoiding large rocks and mulch when landscaping because they attract both snakes and snake prey. They also serve as overwintering and breeding habitats. A better alternative would be tight-fitting, smaller rocks like river rock and gravel;
- avoiding koi ponds and water gardens as much as possible because they attract snakes;
- sealing crevices and cracks;
- installing fencing. They should be buried several inches beneath the ground and must be ¼ inch or smaller solid sheeting or rigid mesh. The top must be bent to prevent the snakes from climbing over it. There are wildlife-specific fences that you may want to try.
Opposing view on repellents & other removal methods
Mothballs. Naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene, the main active ingredients of various mothballs, have been shown in a study by San Julian (1985) to be toxic to mammals and insects but do not have any repelling effect on snakes
Naphthalene has been linked to human illness and death to children and using mothballs that are not indicated for them, such as using them outdoors, can pose a risk to pets and children.
Sulfur. A lot of snake repellent products promote sulfur as an effective repellent, but unfortunately, also, according to the 1985 study of San Julian, it is merely a waste of your money.
Golf balls and ceramic eggs. Putting these things inside chicken coops to deter snakes will only cause an agonizingly slow death for snakes who swallowed them. These snakes will suffer over several weeks.
Aside from being cruel to snakes, these are still ineffective because new snakes will only take over the vacated niche of the snakes that died. It is, therefore, more desirable to improve coop security instead.
After all, losing a few eggs from snakes is an acceptable price for having a natural control measure against rodents.
Relocation. The relocation of captured wild animals is seldom successful. It may even violate laws. Snakes have been shown not to survive when they are relocated.
Sticky traps. Some do not advocate using sticky traps outdoors because they capture many non-target species of animals who die from the trap cruelly, slowly, and agonizingly.
Using various conventional weapons. Using guns, tools, or other weapons such as shovels can be risky for people. Using firearms directed to the ground may cause bullets to ricochet. Even police officers trained in the use of guns have caused accidents as they tried to shoot a snake.
Recommended alternative methods
According to the alternate point of view just discussed above, snake repellents are ineffective, and you are just wasting money by using them. There are other supposedly more practical ways to repel snakes.
Some of these are the following:
It may be better to simply spray the snake with a water hose to encourage it to go away.
Learn more about snakes
It is also important to learn as much as possible about snakes, their biology, ecology, and their habits and behavior. It is a good idea to read books about them and even visit educational nature parks or zoos. You may therefore have better knowledge on how to deal with them on your property.
Conquer your fear and visit them
These nature centers usually display snakes and provide helpful information about them. They are also an excellent way of seeing snakes at a closer range, so that wonder and awe of these beautiful creatures may slowly replace fear and mistrust within you.
Join wildlife groups
It is a good idea to join groups, clubs, or societies that focus on reptiles and snakes. Here, you can meet local enthusiasts of snakes, learn from their many valuable insights, and hopefully remove your fear of snakes.
In learning about snakes, you may slowly realize that they are an intimate part of our ecosystems and that they are actually beneficial in our gardens and lawns.
Maybe someday, there could be an effective means for humans to co-exist with these valuable inhabitants of our planet.
Many snakes eat garden pests like snails and slugs.
Many snake species also eat rodent pests, which not only ruin our houses but also spread many diseases among humans, livestock, and pets. Rattlesnakes have even been demonstrated to keep Lyme Disease at bay.
Perform citizen science
You can help herpetologists, and other scientists learn about the snakes in your area by performing citizen science.
Reporting sightings of snakes and observing and documenting them can be an exciting activity.
You may be invaluable in helping researchers know more about the species composition and ecology of your area through your modest efforts.
Common misconceptions about snakes
Snakes are attracted by a bowl of milk. In the Americas, locals observed snakes going into barns, possibly to search for rodents, but they believed the snakes went in to drink milk from the udders of cows. In truth, snakes cannot digest milk, and cows are not likely to allow snakes to suckle from them.
A beheaded snake lives until sundown. This is a widespread erroneous belief in rural areas in Australia, probably due to snakes continuing to writhe after being decapitated.
Snakes travel in pairs. Snakes are generally solitary animals and only engage with other snakes during mating activities. At other times, a larger snake is instead prone to eat a smaller snake it encounters.
Kill a snake, and its relatives will take revenge on you. Snakes do not form social bonds nor have the memory or intellect to remember human attackers.
Some snakes bite their tail to form a circle. They supposedly do this in order to roll down slopes or chase humans. This myth could have come from the Greek ouroboros symbol depicting a snake eating its tail, which represents creation and re-creation.
Snakes cannot hear. Snakes have no eardrums but possess inner ears that detect ground vibrations and sounds at low frequency.
Can snakes climb walls?
Even if snakes cannot grip surfaces the way lizards do with their feet, snakes can still climb brick and stone walls. They also easily climb trees. They climb by using their body’s muscles to put pressure against the various rough surfaces of the wall to gain traction and advance their body upwards. Snakes are also capable of crawling upstairs.
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