Snakes scare me and the last thing I want when camping is for one to turn up at my campsite, end up in my tent or (god forbid) inside my sleeping bag.
When camping in areas with snakes I like to be on the safe side and bring a snake repellent with me.
I know there are effective natural snake repellents out there but is vinegar one of them and does it actually work to keep snakes away?
Vinegar DOES keep snakes away as they have a highly-developed sense of smell to hunt prey and will avoid strong and unpleasant smells as much as possible.
The major downside to using vinegar as a snake deterrent is that the smell tends to dissipate after a day or if it has rained – making it ineffective rather quickly. Other alternative snake repellents can work for weeks or even a month at a time making them more suitable for longer term usage.
However, if you're camping and need to protect yourself from snakes for the night then vinegar can be a good natural product to use.
You might also consider using it alongside a commercial snake repellent for added peace of mind.
If you want to use vinegar to keep snakes away, it’s a good idea to understand how it works as a repellent and how to use it correctly.
Why Is Vinegar a Good Snake Repellent?
If you've ever used vinegar for cleaning or killing mold like I have you'll be well aware of the strong semi-acidic smell that vinegar gives off. Some people love it and others (myself included) hate it.
Vinegar is a good snake repellent because snakes have an advanced sense of smell and shy away from strong acidic smells, like vinegar. They have a Jacobson’s organ to allow them to taste and smell even the faintest smells and the smell of vinegar can overwhelm them causing them to withdraw.
With its strong smell, vinegar can also mask the scent trail of a snake’s prey (rodents and very small mammals) and keep snakes from entering your campsite or backyard to hunt.
Although you can use both white and brown vinegar to repel snakes, I prefer white vinegar because it has a sharper smell, is more acidic and I can also use it to clean my camping stove. It's also extremely cheap and easy to get at any local grocery store.
Brown vinegar tends to stain light surfaces and has less uses for me than white vinegar.
I sometimes also use white vinegar as a backup when camping in case I leave my bug repellent at home (mosquitoes hate the smell). It has quite a few uses.
You can buy white vinegar in bulk online or at grocery stores and it’s not too expensive. For example, Happy Belly White Distilled Vinegar from Amazon is only a couple of dollars per bottle and you can even buy cheaper options at your local grocery or hardware store.
How To Use Vinegar as a Snake Deterrent
After spraying vinegar, the smell starts to dissipate after about 24 hours but it makes a good snake repellent if you’re only staying at a campsite for a day or two.
Just make sure to reapply it if it’s been raining or there was a lot of fog or dew in the morning.
Here’s how to use it as a snake deterrent when camping:
1. Fill a large plastic spray bottle with white vinegar (a plastic bottle is great for camping as it’s less likely to break). Avoid diluting it with water as this will make the smell less potent and the vinegar less effective.
2. Spray the vinegar around your campsite’s perimeter. Snakes don't generally like open areas so if there are shrubs or bushes near your campsite where snakes may be hiding it could be worth spraying a bit extra in these areas.
3. Repeat the process every 24 hours or if it rains.
Although buying white vinegar in bulk isn’t that expensive, applying it every day at home can quickly become costly, tedious and time consuming. Using a commercial non-toxic snake repellent is far more economical, convenient and longer lasting.
Victor Snake-A-Way from Amazon is a good commercial product to consider because one application lasts between two and three months. It’s also safe to use around kids, pets and wildlife in your yard.
These granules begin working immediately to repel venomous and non-venomous snakes. The granules temporarily disrupt snakes’ olfactory sense organ, sending them in search of fresh air.
One application lasts for up to 2-3 months. Reapply after heavy rain for best results
If you’re looking for a non-chemical snake repellent, avoid cleverly marketed but ineffective products like ultrasonic repellents. Here’s a video showing how snakes see them as no deterrent:
Using rope as a snake repellent (even horsehair rope) is also ineffective and just an urban legend.
If you’re looking for a physical barrier, your best bet is vermin mesh or a professionally-installed snake fence.
What Other Smells Do Snakes Hate?
Other smells that snakes hate include:
- Certain essential oils. Snakes hate the smell of essential oils like cinnamon, peppermint and cloves. You can spray essential oils or burn them in a lantern or burner and they’re a great way of repelling snakes naturally.
- Citronella. This citrus-scented oil repels not only snakes but also mosquitoes and flies, making it great to have when camping or relaxing in your backyard in the summer.
- Garlic. If you have a vegetable patch in your yard, consider planting garlic as snakes avoid this smell.
- Ammonia. Snakes also hate the smell of ammonia but it’s not practical or pleasant to have it in your yard permanently. However, it makes a fantastic snake repellent when camping – just soak a rag in ammonia, place in a ziplock bag and then open it at your campsite.
- Certain plants. If you want to create a naturally snake repellent backyard, plant things like marigolds, mother-in-law’s tongue, wormwood, lemongrass and basil as these can deter snakes.