Do snake repellants work?

Are there any products sold as “snake repellants” which actually work? Does anything else work, eg. moth balls?

If by “work” you mean “keep snakes reliably at bay or prevent them from crossing over or into some specific area”, then no, not at all.

If by “work” you mean “separate people from their money while providing none of the promised benefit” then yes indeed, they work well.

My WAG is that the best snake repellent in the world is to keep your property free of mice, rats, gophers and other prey. Snakes are smarter than most people give them credit for, and they’re very good at finding scent trails. If they find a basement with a breeding population of mice, they settle down. Otherwise, they’ll just keep right on moving.

(Personally, I’d love a snake attractant).

Have you considered a basement full of mice, rats, gophers and other prey?

Riki Tiki Tavi was pretty good at de-snake-ifying places, but I dunno if you can own a mongoose as a pet…

We don’t get many snakes up here in the Seattle area. Too cold, I think.

I do keep a small cage of mice to feed my pet snake (a Mexican red-tailed boa that’s about 5 feet long). :slight_smile:

Sounds fishy to me, but I’ve heard it said a snake won’t cross over a line of string.

You could always get a rabbit.

actually we used a product called Snake Away and it worked.

Thanks, all. Snake Away is the only product that seems to have some positive results. But the internet is not unanimous. We might give it a try.

I’ve always trusted products that have a number and then the word “cal” after them.

But you can use other products:
One place in North Carolina where I lived while growing up had a street where all of the men were in the Marine Corps. When the husbands deployed overseas, they all deployed at once.

One of the ladies who lived on that street discovered a snake while mowing her lawn and all of the husbands were gone. All of the ladies who lived on that street got involved in killing that snake. That snake was killed with a lawn mower. Then it was killed with a shovel. Then it was killed with a shotgun. Then it was killed with a gallon of lit gasoline. Then it was killed with a lawn mower again (after the fire died out).

My mother was deathly afraid of snakes. She grew up in Australia and would tell stories (perhaps exaggerated) of walking to school ankle to hip deep in the deadly poisonous things. She was really afraid of them. So of course, whenever my brother or I would kill one, we would coil its dead body just outside the front door so it would be the first thing she saw when she opened the door. If we didn’t have a dead snake, we would use a piece of rope. It had the same effect on my mother.

But seriously . . . I don’t kill snakes any more. I haven’t killed them since I was a kid. I hold down their heads with a stick. Then I grab them at the neck and re-locate them.

I haven’t laughed out loud at a post in months. That one did it. Perfect comic delivery. Thank you.

Sounds very fishy to me too, considering how similar a line of string is to a twig on the floor of a forest, and I’ve seen snakes go over twigs many times.

It’s probably just boric acid. Otherwise, I’d be very curious to know what it was.

I’m assuming it was a rattlesnake? Otherwise there was no reason to kill the harmless thing, let alone so many times. (I thought it was cats that have nine lives.)

At least she would have had an excuse.

I always find it sad when most snakes are killed. I can understand killing poisonous ones like the rattlesnakes we had in California, but a lot of folks would kill anything, including the California king snakes… which are one of the few natural predators of rattlesnakes.

Glad I could be of some use :slight_smile:

I tried to buy Snake Away from Tractor Supply awhile back and they were out. The salesman said I could get the same results with boxes of moth balls. I have no personal experience with their efficacy. Perhaps they keep mice away and, thus, the snake’s prey.

Regardless, they’re harmful if ingested so don’t use if kids will be around.

A snake’s world must contain a huge variety of odors, and a highly complex set of adaptations to them. After all, smell is the snake’s best sense. Their eyesight is not too great, and they don’t even have ears, so the sense of smell and the closely related sense of taste pretty well define a snake’s universe.

Smell/taste is used to find drinking water but also comfortable relative humidity. Smell/taste probably helps a snake differentiate between places prey might hide, like the scent of damp, dark earth under a rock or inside a hollow log or in a cave, versus dry, sandy, or barren landscape. And we know with certainty that a snake’s smell/taste is intimately involved with the actual hunt for, localization of, and directed strike at, food items.

To think that such an animal would be totally put off merely by the smell of something noxious strikes me as silly. Pour or shake whatever material you want on the ground, the snake’s highly sensitive olefactory organs will make note of it, but will certainly also note the additional aromas mixed with the noxious ones. And the snake will be able to define these with some assurance of direction, as well. That’s what the fork in the tongue helps to facilitate. If there is food or comfort or shelter on the other side, the snake will certainly proceed.

I have not done any controlled tests, and normally I dislike the “my post is my cite” conceit, but I have decades of experience with snakes, and can say that I have never seen one turn away from any aroma when a dark hidey hole or a prey animal presented itself. I frankly doubt that any “snake repellent” has any chance of working.

I believe this so strongly that I have for many years dreamed of my own get rich scheme-- mass marketing of my own Snake-Away, which I would make from distilled water, thus ensuring “complete safety for your family, your pets, and the environment!!” and offering a 100% money back guarantee if you saw the snake again within 30 days after applying my product.

Most often a snake will be glimsed briefly, perhaps along your back patio or along the sidewalk, when it is surprised in crossing the area. Such an animal will almost certainly not be seen again, just because there is absolutely no reason for it to remain in the area and visible to the giant hairy monsters (us, in case you miss my meaning). So an application of my product will, just given the odds of actually encountering a snake, probably be at least 99% effective. Even though it has no “ingredients” at all.

This reality probably accounts for most of the testimonials touting “effectiveness” of similar products.

Now I do not maintain that a snake would voluntarily crawl into a closed space occupied by mothballs or some other caustic chemical. A closed space like a basement might indeed remain snake-proof with mothballs. But then, a basement built well enough to contain mothball vapor probably would not house small rodents nor allow easy entry for snakes in the first place.

But I doubt that any snake would pause for even a moment before crossing a string, a horsehair rope, or some other outdoor line of defense. After all, his nose knows what is on the other side!

I’ve been keeping snakes and working with snakes for 40 years, and I can assure you snake repellents do not work. The Napthalene which is the only “active” ingredient in the expensive Snake-away product is the exact same substance moth balls are made from.

For more info on trapping snakes, snake exterminators and snake repellents, see:



Colorado State University doesn’t think they work and I tend to agree: [url=]