There are many snake repellent products on the market but many people still rely mothballs to deter them.
Even though mothballs are cheap and tempting to use, it’s important to know if they’re effective and even safe to use – which doesn't seem to be the case.
Mothballs don’t keep snakes away because their active ingredient, naphthalene, has been proven to be ineffective against snakes. What’s more, naphthalene is toxic to humans, animals and plants. Depending on how much you inhale or consume, you can become seriously ill and it may even be carcinogenic.
Before trying to use mothballs to repel snakes, you should understand the effect they can have on you, your family and the snakes themselves. Then you should opt for a more effective and safer snake repellent like something containing essential oils that snakes don't like.
Why Don’t Mothballs Keep Snakes Away?
Mothballs don’t keep snakes away because snakes don’t find the smell of naphthalene (the active ingredient in moth balls) repellent enough.
Effective snake repellents work by overwhelming a snake’s highly-developed sense of smell and mothballs seem to have no effect on this.
For a visual demonstration, check out the video below demonstrating how naphthalene doesn’t have an effect on snakes:
Mothballs are also highly toxic.
According to a paper from the New Jersey Department of Health, naphthalene poses the following dangers to humans and animals:
- It’s potentially carcinogenic.
- It can cause skin, eye and throat irritation or burns.
- It can cause eye damage or blindness.
- It can damage your organs, cause anemia and confusion.
- It’s a dangerous fire hazard.
- Excessive exposure can be fatal.
By putting mothballs down to repel snakes, you’re exposing yourself, the snake, your family and pets to potentially serious health risks and it isn’t worth the few dollars you save by using a cheap product.
This makes mothballs an inhumane method of “controlling” snakes and isn’t worth the health risk.
What To Use Instead of Mothballs To Repel Snakes
Instead of using poisonous and ineffective mothballs to repel snakes, use a safe and proven method like one of the following:
- Commercial products. Effective commercial snake repelling powders contain ingredients that overwhelm a snakes sense of smell.
Snake Repellents are able to repel copperheads, rattlesnake, cottonmoth and other breeds of snakes. They contain a scent that the snakes hate, providing barrier for your yard and home effectively.
The effect lasts for 2-3 months and is rain resistant and sun proof
- Essential oils (such as peppermint, cinnamon, cloves, cedarwood and citronella). This is a great way of repelling snakes naturally and also smells great. Peppermint also helps repels rodents, while citronella keeps bugs away.
- White vinegar. I love using this method because white vinegar is widely available, I can buy it in bulk and it’s relatively inexpensive. It also has other uses, such as cleaning and insect repelling.
- Ammonia. Like mothballs, ammonia is toxic but not dangerously so. Still, you shouldn’t apply it directly to vegetation or the ground. Soaking some kitchen towels in ammonia, leaving them in a plastic bag and then opening it so the fumes escape is a good way of using it.
- Physical barriers. If you’re after a permanent snake repellent, consider using snake fencing so snakes can’t enter your property at all. When camping, you might consider a portable snake barrier like this one: