Do Snake Repellents Work?

Have you ever heard the term “snake oil” used in a way to describe a scam or a con? Well, in the case of snake repellents, it is actually a fairly adequate description. Snake repellents have been sold for many years, and there are many happy customers. What many of these happy customers may not realize is that when they started using this snake repellent, they were doing other things proactively that were actually solving the snake problem. Keep reading for more information about common repellents and natural remedies and why they are not effective at preventing snakes.

Natural Remedies

  • If you have ever used cinnamon, clove, or other essential oils to repel snakes, it might have been effective. It is very effective for the first day or so it is put out, but every day wind, rain, and air circulation in general weakens the power, and consequently, the effectiveness of essential oils as a snake repellent. This is much the case with any of the popular natural remedies used to prevent snakes in yards, houses, and garages.
  • Solutions where lime and hot pepper juice is mixed is also very effective, but much like the oils, its effectiveness does not last. That is the problem with so many of these home remedies and natural mixtures. 
  • If you have planted lemongrass or wormwood to help prevent snakes, it might do an okay job at protecting your property. The problem with these plants is that if they are not planted in a very tight perimeter around something, a determined snake will still be able to slip through the small gaps between the plants. It is not that these plants are completely ineffective; it is just that they will not be able to stop every snake.

Store-Bought Repellents

There is a vast assortment of different store-bought repellents and chemicals that are touted to be very effective against snakes.

One of the most commonly used repellents to try and prevent snakes from entering homes, yards, and garages is the mothball. There have been tests done that show that mothballs are not effective.

There are a wide variety of other repellents such as, Ortho Snake B Gon, Victor Snake-A-Way, SerpentGuard, Snake Away Snake Repelling Granules, and Havahart Snake Shield, just to name a few. While these may be effective in certain scenarios, in a wide array of situations, they will not be very effective at all. These might seem like baseless claims against these store-bought repellents, but there is scientific proof that makes logical sense. This will be discussed shortly.


There is one common ingredient that is found in every type of man-made remedy, from mothballs to all of the commercially produced snake repellents. This substance is called Naphthalene.

If you understand a little bit about snake biology, it will help make this a bit more understandable. Snakes rely primarily on their sense of smell, which is why you see their tongues flicking out all of the time. It is not actually the tongue that does the smelling, but a scent receptor called the Jacobson’s organ.

Naphthalene only repels snakes based on its scent, and if you have ever smelled a mothball, you know why. Naphthalene effectively repels snakes when the snake can smell it

The Problem

The problem with naphthalene is that when it is placed anywhere that is not a confined space, the scent of the chemicals have very little effect on snakes. When used outdoors, snake repellents containing naphthalene are highly ineffective, as there is far too much air circulation for it to effectively keep snakes away. There have actually been stories of snake removal experts finding rattlesnakes sleeping on top of bags of mothballs.

Mind-Playing Tricks

Many times that people begin using snake repellents, they were looking online at ways to keep snakes off of their properties and away from their homes. If they were indeed looking for common ways to prevent snakes, they would have run into things like:

  • cleaning up their property by getting rid of woodpiles, trash piles, and any other places where snakes or rodents can hide
  • patching holes on their roof or attic, right by their foundation, and all around their shed

You might have destroyed your rodent problem, which is a key attractant for snakes. At the end of the day, many people go all in and make their yard not snake-friendly.

After they have done all of this, they will put out snake repellent and it will work like magic. There are no more snakes anywhere!

Think about it for a minute. There is no reason that the snake repellent is working, as you fixed virtually every other problem that might attract snakes on your property. The simple truth is that snake repellents, either natural or commercially available, do not work that effectively. Yes, it may work sometimes in certain scenarios, but for the majority of situations, it will only give homeowners a false sense of security.