How to repel snakes: best natural and chemical snake repellents

It’s very hard to figure something out when getting rid of snakes. Although everyone understood that killing these reptiles is not the way out long time ago, people still lack a 100%-effective product or protection. There exists a whole bunch of rumors and myths surrounding the repellents ever since Adam was a boy, but the scientists claim that you can’t simply rely on traditional methods as they are often useless.

Our review is based on the scientists’ and state experts’ advice. We have also paid attention to the opinions of experienced farmers and hunters. What both the scientists and the amateurs agree on is that it is unacceptable to live next to these crawling creatures. You’d better take your chance and repel them as far away as possible, if you can.

Table of Contents:

4 Rules for Those Who Want to Keep Snakes Away

We are surrounded by dozens of crawling reptiles which can be venomous or safe for humans, which inhabit water or land, and which are big or small. Some of them prefer living in low grass while others nest in the basements and others hide in the woods. The types of snakes inhabiting North and South also differ greatly.

What conclusion are we to therefore draw? The first rule of eliminating the snakes is that you have to define which type of reptiles is bothering you. Everything depends on that, first and foremost we’re speaking about the hazard level carried by these animals. Second of all, type of snake will define the prevention methods. Third, specific elimination methods also depend on that.

National Pesticide Information Center has published a step-by-step manual on the matter. The best idea is to photograph the snakes you encounter near your accommodation, then to examine their appearance carefully and to compare with your official regional classifier. Mind that the differences between the species can be almost unnoticeable! If you don’t carry a camera with you, you’ll have to rely on your memory. If you faced the snake at home, it’s better to trap this predator in any jar before taking it out. After that you should take a closer look at it and act in conformity with the manual.

Snake classification varies in different states greatly depending on location. Speaking about the South-Western region, according to the University of Florida scientists’ local snakes classification, only 6 out of 46 existing types are venomous. Compare it with the info of North-Eastern Maine specialists where only 9 types of snakes are encountered, none of which are venomous. However, as snakes are potentially harmful, never rely on amateurs, trust official sources only!

garter snakes

The second rule of eliminating snakes is to never count on poisons and hardcore chemical repellents. First of all, 99% of snakes hunt live pray and are difficult to be trapped with bait. This is attested by the State of Louisiana Department of Wildlife. Second, such products are harmful for the environment, pets and even humans. It is not in vain that using many anti-snake pesticides is forbidden by law.

The third rule is not kill snakes if it is not necessary. The same scientists from the University of Louisiana claim that only 10% of snakes in the world are venomous. In the USA these statistics look even brighter. The rest of the creatures can only harm people indirectly and are essential for the ecosystem. Many scientific publications are devoted to the use of snakes in agriculture and their benefit for the wildlife, so it’s better to take care of them peacefully and not to become an animal slaughterer.

The fourth and final rule is that use of traps and repellents does not free you from further prevention. All of them operate similarly: depriving the snakes of life and breeding space is sufficient. We’ll elaborate on the prevention at the end of our review. And now we’ll start with the products which will be handy for those whose houses have already been infested by snakes.

10 Important Facts about Venomous and Not Venomous Snakes Which Will Help You Repel Them from Your House

Let’s get better acquainted with the habits of these weird creatures. Our snake fact sheet will help many people stop hating them. It will be useful for those who are not afraid of them as well. It is still better to treat even the most harmless snakes with caution and respect. The following fact sheet is drawn up on the basis of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries specialists’ information.

  1. Snakes are dangerous for pets. They consume decorative fish, toads and even small kittens.
  2. Do not lean close to a snake. Snake theoretically cannot jump to the head level of a person, and it is a bite in the face of both venomous and non-venomous snakes that is the most dangerous and even toxic and it can leave a scar on your face.  That is why do not to bend down and keep your distance when you try to get rid of them.
  3. Snakes are useful for farming and gardening. They eat mice, slugs and insect pests.  As a rule, it is beneficial to your mini-farm.
  4. Snakes are season animals. Despite their love for the heat, many snakes become sluggish when it’s hot. They even hibernate in the summer. Similar behavior occurs in the winter. The snakes are most active when breeding (in the spring and beginning of summer) and when it’s simply warm. Another interesting feature of them is that when it’s warm during the day, the crawl into the shade and after some cold period they, on the other hand, they crawl back into the sun. That is why you can often encounter them chilling in the sun of the pavement.
  5. Snakes are kings of hunger strike. They can easily survive several weeks of famine. They also do well with a smallest piece of prey for a long time. Snakes aren’t the greediest creatures ever.
  6. They smell with their tongue, hence the low effectiveness of aroma repellents mentioned earlier.
  7. Snakes give birth differently. They breed differently as well. Some of them lay eggs in the damp and protected area and wait for them to hatch for 2-2.5 months. Others, such as copperheads, water or rattlesnakes are viviparous reptiles.  Still there are others which lay eggs inside their bodies.
  8. Urbanization drives them closer to people. The snakes themselves aren’t exuberant to be humans’ neighbors. They are scared of lawn mowers, cars and ground vibration. But humans cut down the forests and other snakes’ natural habitat, so the reptiles out to look for shelter and food elsewhere.
  9. Snakes are deaf. They perceive sounds through ground vibration, so they still feel the steps of  humans
  10. Snakes are wanderers.  If your area is not invaded by snakes, it does not mean that they will not come here in a year.  Reptiles can travel in search of food, water, and "friends" at a very long distance.

Are There Effective Snakes Repellents?

We’re used to buying repellents for eliminating the rodents, insects and other pests as it is really nice to have an opportunity to create a liquid or dry barrier which will repel but not harm a live creature. Things aren’t that simple with the snakes. Even official state sources contradict each other when it comes to the effectiveness of the repellents. They all nevertheless agree that no universal repellent against all types of snakes exists. What does science has to say about the products which are traditionally used and which are sold on the stores’ shelves?

how to repel snake?

Let’s start with a bit of history. Back in the 1950s you could come across the manuals on using poisons (from DDT to cyanogas, from mercaptan to nicotine sulfate) against snakes, but none of them could was proven to be 100% effective. Later most of the products based on these chemicals were banned. Highly concentrated mercaptan, for example, was harmful for human nervous system, although its impact on non-venomous snakes wasn’t proven.

Nowadays you can come across a short list of the safest repellent chemicals and actual repellents containing them on farmers’ forums and ad portals. However, science does not fully acknowledge any of them.

Chemical Snake Repellents: Mothballs and Sulfur

  • Mothballs

First of all, these balls contain a strong neurotoxin. Should a child or a dog get it into its mouth, things may end badly. Second, its effectiveness against snakes has not been scientifically proven. National Pesticide Information Center claims directly: «Mothballs are not a snake repellent».  If do not believe scientists, just watch the "Mythbusters” episode. Adam Savage and friends have busted this myth as well. In addition, the lab experiments with pure naphthalene showed that it is not a barrier for the snakes. The scientists Gary J. San Julian and David K. Woodward have conducted an experiment to prove this. They placed the snake in a closed box, poured the repellent before it and placed some bait there too. Almost all the time the reptile ignored the mothball barrier.

  • Sulfur

Pure sulfur is rarely used against snakes. Most often it is mixed with naphthalene. The only thing we can say about this mixture is that it stinks and that it is easily washed away by rain. Perhaps, a certain concentration of the two ingredients can affect snakes. The article “Snakes: Information for Kentucky Homeowners” claims that the effectiveness of certain naphthalene- and sulfur-based registered products is limited. This is also confirmed by the fact that certain sulfur and naphthalene repellents have been licensed. They work best against rattlesnakes and checkered garter snakes with certain disclaimers, though.

chemical snake repellent

For instance, a 7% naphthalene and 28% sulfur Snake-A-Way didn’t pass the lab tests. Rex E. Marsh from University of California — Davis has placed a repellent strip on the floor and let the snakes in one by one. Statistically, one of the two gopher snakes crossed the barrier several times. Moreover, Snake-a-Way’s rivals are not known to be versatile repellents either.

Homemade and Natural Snake Repellents

Fox urine, smoke, diesel fuel and the mixture of naphthalene with feline filler, lime and pepper sprays are known to be traditional snake repellents. Gary J. San Julian and David K. Woodward claim that all of these items are ineffective. Diesel fuel is also considered to be extremely harmful for the environment by the experts as your plants and useful insects in the garden will be affected by it. However, some Colorado researches believe that it has a restricting impact on rattlesnakes.

What about organic essential oil repellents? Such mixtures are popular for eliminating garden pests, but none of them are useful against snakes. Jim Parkhurst, Associate Professor, Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech covers that the state is developing a product containing cinnamon, clove and eugenol essential oils. However, he personally doesn’t trust this idea.

How Effective are Snake Repellents?

The Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department of Maine web portal will help us summarize the mini-review of snake repellents. The authors of their booklet devoted to the snakes radically claim that no chemical products are effective against snakes. Perhaps this is connected with the smell of these reptiles, as they perceive the smell with their forked tongue. That’s why they are not repelled by distant smells and they will only feel it physically if they lick the ground.

What you certainly shouldn’t buy is the products which are positioned as universal ones, which would apparently help you to get rid of rats, spiders and snakes. NPIC specialists are positive that these products are the worst. Also, do neglect the ultrasound repellents, as snakes have no ears!

Nevertheless, we were somehow interested in the powders and granules based on sulfur and naphthalene.  The experts do not have a unified opinion regarding them, so let’s consider them to be potential snake repellents. Later we’ll find out what do mere consumers think about such repellents.

How to Keep the Snakes Away: Snake Traps, Fences and Traditional Methods

Physical measures can be more effective against snakes. The abovementioned Maine ecologists’ brochure states that the best way to protect oneself against these crawling creatures is to bury a solid fence deep into the ground. Moreover, various types of reptile traps are quite popular. It isn’t that hard to get one of them.

snake fence

  • Buy or build a snake-proof fence. Let’s refer to the same fence fans’ booklet,  where they give a universal instruction on erecting it:

“Make a fence from quarter-inch mesh galvanized hardware cloth, 30 inches high. Bury the bottom edge three to six inches in the ground, placing the support stakes inside the fence to prevent snakes from crawling up them. You can construct this fence alone or add it to the front of an existing fence. Any gate should fit tightly and be kept closed. Regularly inspect the fence to be sure that holes haven't been opened under it, and that items have not been piled against the outside. Mow grass and weeds around the fence. A snake fence should slant outward at a 30-degree angle toward the area containing snakes.”

  • Buy or make your own snake trap. The experts approve of using sticky traps for keeping the snakes trapped. Such things are available. The zoologists from Washington describe to you how to make such a trap by yourself:

“Place the rat-sized glue board trap attached to a piece of plywood along an inside wall or foundation. To avoid close contact with an agitated snake, consider fastening a wood extension handle. To release a snake caught in the glue board trap pour vegetable oil on the snake. The oil will reduce the tackiness of the glue and allow the snake to free itself".

For those who love DIY without using glue, the DEM in the State of Rhode Island offer a handmade trap blueprint along with the instructions:

“One method used by researchers to capture snakes is a funnel trap with drift fences. A funnel trap is cylindrical wire mesh structure, using the same basic concept as a lobster pot. One or both ends of the cylinder are fitted with entrance funnels, with the narrow end located within the body of the trap. Since such traps are not available commercially, they must be handfabricated, a process which makes their use unappealing and time-consuming”.

  • Pets are also considered to be physical measures against snakes. Pigs, dogs and hedgehogs are considered to feed on certain types of crawling reptiles. But only hedgehogs do so on the regular basis. Others will only taste a snake if starving. You wouldn’t starve your pet, would you? Moreover, your pets are not guaranteed to win the fight against the snakes, so let’s just put this idea aside.

3 best Ready-to-Use Snake Repellents

Dr. T's 4-Pound Nature Products Snake Repelling Granules  

snake repellentAs per our experts, the mixture can only repel rattlesnakes and garter snakes. The pack contains 4lbs of granules (7% naphthalene and 28% sulfur). It should be enough for a quality treatment of 5 acres of land. The manufacturers do not hide that the snake will away from the repellent, once the chemical gets onto its Jacobson’s organ. If the sensory receptors are not touched, it will crawl further. Despite this, the product’s Amazon.com rating is 4.2 stars out of 5.

Dr. T's Snake Repelling Granules are to be scattered in 4-5 inches (for garter snakes) or 8-12 inches (for rattlers) wide strips while wearing special gloves. You’ll have to renew these strips even after a drizzle. Of course, such a smelly mixture should not be used indoors.

In the comments section the users state that it is foolish to spray the product near the snakes’ nests (for example, in the basement or the woodpile). In this case the snakes will be trapped and won’t leave your house until they die. Most of the dog owners admit that their dogs do not care about the chemical, but all of those who eliminate the snakes keep the product away from the children. The only reasonable complaint we’ve found concerned the disgusting odor of the product. So, you can check it out.

Price: ~$17.46 Check the current price

Havahart 6400 Snake Shield Snake Repellent, 4 Pounds

havahart snake repellentWe highly doubt this product despite its excellent Amazon.com rating of 4.3 stars out 5. It also contains sulfur, and some essential oil ingredients have been added. Their effectiveness has been neither attested nor disproven hence Havahart is listed in our review. Here’s what it contains:  sulfur, cedar oil, cinnamon oil, and clove oil. These pungent smells are supposed to repel the snakes once in contact with their sensory receptors.

The manual states that an 8-inch Havahart Repellent barrier is to be placed on the perimeter of your place and of certain objects, such as the garage, trash, and the house itself. As for its advantages, they include the fact that the bad smell is overcome by a fake wood smell. As for the disadvantages, the main one is the lack of description of species against which the product acts. We have already discussed the mediocrity of such universal products. Nevertheless, 90% of the consumers consider Havahart to be an effective product. They only complained of its short action period. As for us, we can’t unambiguously recommend this best selling item. You can test these granules at your own risk.

Price: ~$23.36 Check the current price

Sweeney's 5200 All Out Snake Repellent, Granular, 4-Pound

snake repellent granular

The list of active ingredients of this product is finally missing sulfur as it only contains clove oil, cinnamon oil and cedar oil. We have mentioned earlier that the experiments regarding the effectiveness of oil mixtures are ongoing. Sweeney has decided to overtake the scientists and has already launched a similar mixture, the All Out Snake Repellent. The customers have rated this product lower than its two abovementioned rivals, as only 71% of consumers consider it effective (hence the 3.5 stars out of 5 Amazon.com rating).

In the comments section we were able to find cases of successful repelling of black snakes, copperheads and garter snakes. However, gratitude and negativity are equally distributed throughout the feedback. We have never seen so many disappointed reviews, that’s why we give the lowest trustworthiness rating to this product!

Price: ~$24.32 Check the current price

3 Best Snake Traps

Easy Gift ® 5 Pcs Butter Scented Humane Mouse and Insect Glue Boards Rat Trap Mice Pest Snake Sticky Traps with Professional Strength Glue for Indoor or Outdoor.

glue trap for snakesIt costs ~$16.99 and has a 4.8 stars out of 5 rating on Amazon.com. This is more costly than an average price tag for such products, but the dimensions of the trap are larger than usual. It can be expanded in the form of a square pad with a 32 centimeter long side. It can also be rolled into a sticky roll which would whirl a mouse or a rat inside. The trap is made of simple materials, such as non-toxic glue and carton. What is disappointing though, is that the manual doesn’t state against which types of snakes the product is effective.

Catchmaster 402 Baited Rat, Mouse and Snake Glue Traps Professional Strength, 2-Pack

snake trap

The price for the trap is ~$6.81 and its Amazon.com rating is 3.9 stars out of 5. A small box contains two traps for mice, snakes and rats. The dimensions of each box are 0.8 х 5.3 х 11.4 inches. It contains no poison; the sticky surface does the trick. The only problem is that it is aimed at small snakes. The users claim that they weren’t able to trap snakes over 2-4 ft long.

Moreover, this trap requires you to predict all of the possible reptile trails. Placing it randomly means taking a chance that the snake won’t crawl into the trap, as there are no proper attractants devised yet (unless you glue a grasshopper to the trap). All in all, this is a good option for only ~$6.81, but it’s only good for mini creatures.

Catchmaster 1872SD Mouse Insect and Snake Glue Boards, 4-Pack for ~$5.53 has similar characteristics. However, it contains twice as many sticky strips for the same price! Isn’t that a chance to take?

Another trap is Humane Snake Trap by Snake Trap (from ~$24.95) is rated 3 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com. This thing is more expensive, but its dimensions are more impressive. It is a full-scale plastic trap which has some sticky tape inside. However, according to the customer feedback, its effectiveness is poorer than that of its competitors. This is quite understandable as the cheap adhesive tape can be thrown around the whole territory. Buying several traps would be quite costly.

humane snake trapStill, thanks to its closed format, there is no chance of a puppy or a kitten getting trapped in the Humane Snake Trap. We have come across such complaints among the feedback of other traps.

Still, we have found recommendations regarding turning to cheaper insect and mice adhesive tapes rather than buying a brand name snake traps in the comments section. Some even advise making own traps! It’s too bad that these options certainly haven’t been scientifically tested!

7 Tips on How to Prevent Snakes From Getting in Your Backyard and House

Here we are, back to basics. Here are 7 tips for those who want to avoid the snakes’ coming near or inside their house.

  1. Clear the ground near your place. Snakes like to hide in the bushes, piles of garbage, piles of leaves and tall grass. Clean them up, and reptiles will not feel comfortable on the bare ground. Professionals recommend you to regularly clean the attic and basement at home as the snakes can also hide there.
  2. Make sure your snakes have a strict diet. Mind their eating habits. Some snakes feed on toads, others consume ill fish, and others eat insects and rodents. Should your place be infested with such animals, do expect the snakes coming as well. A mere fish pond in your backyard can easily attract certain kinds of water snakes. Rat snakes love all types of rats and chipmunks. King snakes can encroach on the birds and their eggs. Some smaller snakes, such as rough green snake, consume insects. Frogs are the favorite meal of hognose.
  3. Check your house for holes. Cracks and gaps, wiring and ventilation can become an open door for snakes. Insulate them as much as possible, so that these creatures cannot settle next to you! Even a quarter-of-an-inch gap in potentially dangerous.
  4. Use piling system. Each house has certain objects which can’t be got rid of, such as the woodpile. The experts recommend attaching it to piles or something similar and hence make it hover over the ground.
  5. Be careful with the chimneys and windows. Some snakes crawl in the house through the chimneys, and even through the open windows. Beware, they are not Santa Claus!
  6. Feed your pets with caution. If you have dogs, cats or other pets, organize their mealtime properly. Theoretically, your pets’ food and drink can attract snakes, so make sure you put the remnants away so that the crawling creatures cannot access them directly.
  7. Pay special attention to cool, damp and dark areas. Snakes love sun, but they prefer living in gloomy places, hence the he eternal attraction of reptiles to the wine cellars, barns and basements. You should check them more often and cautiously then other buildings.

Summarizing!

We haven’t yet caught the time when the universal snake repellents appear on the market. So far investing into such a product carries a certain degree of risk. Fortunately, you can hedge against it with smart prevention measures, buying traps and keeping the house clean and in order. The best measure is to build a solid fence around your place as it will help you forget about the snakes forever. You should only resort to lethal products in extreme situations.
The main thing to bear in mind when eliminating snakes is that quick physical contact with them is always a bad idea. It’s better to examine the crawling creature, determine its type and only then to confront them.