When I go camping, especially with my kids, one thing I am very cautious of is snakes. There are a lot of snakes in the areas with camp and I like to keep them away from my campsite as much as possible.
Last thing I want is one of us stepping on a snake in our campsite and getting bitten, or finding one in our sleeping bag at night.
There are a few proven ways that you can keep snakes away from your campsite. While most of these aren't 100% fool proof they do effectively repel most snakes and I haven't had a snake encounter for years.
To keep snakes away from your campsite make sure to:
- Camp in a clearing away from tall grass, shrubs and bushes
- Keep food and scraps in airtight containers to deter rodents (and the snakes that hunt them)
- Keep your tent zipped up always
- Place snake repellents around the perimeter of your campsite
- Use a snake fence/barrier for ultimate protection
Understanding how these products work and why they’re effective can help you choose the best one for your camping trip.
1. Choose a Campsite in a Clearing
The best first step you can take to keep snakes out of your campsite is to choose a campsite this isn't friendly to snakes.
Snakes like places they can hide and be safe and then tend to avoid clearings where possible. So picking the right camp spot is really important.
You’re more likely to encounter a snake in a forested area or a place with lots of long grass, piles of vegetation and weeds, as these habitats provide excellent camouflage and hiding places for snakes.
To reduce your chances of having a snake at your campsite, choose a site in a clearing and one with short vegetation and limited bushes or trees.
If you can’t, consider cutting away some of the long grass or vegetation around your campsite to reduce the places snakes can hide and to encourage them to move on to other areas.
2. Keep Your Campsite Neat and Tidy (& Keep Rodents Away)
Keeping your campsite neat and tidy has a double-pronged effect when it comes to repelling snakes:
- With fewer piles or garbage, wood and other items, there are less hiding places to attract snakes.
- A messy campsite with leftover food crumbs, packaging and garbage attracts rodents which, in turn, attract snakes that actively hunt them.
To keep snakes away, throw away garbage and sweep up food crumbs as soon as possible and ensure you have no greasy leftover fire ash that can attract rats and mice.
I find that keeping my food in durable, airtight containers helps keep unwanted pests away and also keeps it nice and fresh.
3. Keep Your Tent and Sleeping Bag Securely Zipped Up
Snakes like hiding in dark and quiet places and sometimes seek warmth on a cold night. This makes your sleeping bag and tent the ideal hiding place for them.
If you want to keep snakes away from your tent then it's really important that you keep your tent sealed at all times so snakes can't get in.
If you're not using a tent and want to keep snakes away while sleeping on the ground then you should keep your bedding/sleeping bag wrapped up tight until right before bedtime. Don't provide a nice cosy place for the snake to hide and only unravel it when you're ready for bed.
4. Use an Effective Snake Repelling Product
In addition to the above methods, you should consider using a recommended snake-repelling product if you know your campsite will be in an area with snakes.
There are many snake deterrents to choose from and the right one for you depends on your budget, product type preference and ease of application.
Here are some excellent snake repellents to consider:
Commercial Snake Repellents
Most modern mainstream snake repellents are safe to use on vegetation and won’t harm snakes or the surrounding wildlife. Instead, their strong scent will deter snakes.
You can buy a commercial snake repellent online or from an outdoor store, and use any leftover product for your backyard. Some of these products produce strong smells so make sure to test them at home before taking them camping or your fellow campers might not like you.
I have found that the Pufado Snake Repellent Balls from Amazon are a great one to consider for camping because it comes in the form of small balls that you can use around the perimeter of your campsite.
They last 2-3 months and still work after rains but their ball shape means that you can easily place them around your campsite and easily pack them up and store them for your next camping trip once you're done.
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
If you like using natural products, essential oils are your best bet for a snake repellent because there are many varieties that snakes hate and they are actually quite effective (and don't smell as bad as some of the commercial products containing sulphur)
Essential oil snake repellents contain a variety of smells that snakes don't like including:
You can combine essential oils or use them alone.
For camping, place some essential oils in a plastic spray bottle before leaving to make application easier.
I love using white vinegar as a snake deterrent because it’s a fantastic multi-purpose camping product. I use it for cleaning, as a backup bug repellent and also to keep snakes away.
All you need to do is spray your campsite’s perimeter with white vinegar and then enjoy a snake-free experience.
The downsides to using vinegar is that it only lasts about 24 hours before needing to be reapplied and if it rains then it likely won't work. Vinegar is acidic and can also damage plants and turf so you need to be careful where you spray it.
Ammonia is a toxic snake repellent but its strong odor effectively repels snakes.
To avoid harming the vegetation or wildlife at your campsite, don’t apply ammonia directly but keep some ammonia-soaked kitchen towels in a ziplock bag and then open it when you arrive.
Citronella is an essential oil but you can also buy it as camping lantern fuel, which burns smokeless.
Its fumes will repel snakes as well as annoying bugs, such as mosquitoes and flies, and it’s relatively inexpensive.
Hyoola Citronella Lamp Oil from Amazon is a fantastic consideration because it comes in a large 1-gallon jug that you can easily decant into your camping lantern.
This Coleman Citronella Outdoor Lantern is also a good way to provide light to your campsite for up to 70+ hours while also keeping insects, bugs and snakes away at the same time.
Long lasting candle uses natural citronella oil to enhance your outdoor experience and keep away mosquitos and other pests.
5. Use a Snake Barrier (The Ultimate Defence)
If you go camping often and have small children, you might want to invest in a snake barrier around your tent.
This is going to provide the ultimate protection against snakes coming into your campsite but they do require a bit of setup which may or may not be worth it depending on your situation.
These are made from slippery fabric that snakes have difficulty climbing and have an apron around the outer edge to further repel them.
If you have small children who spend a lot of time on the ground and may not know how to avoid a snake if one comes near them then this could be a worthy investment.
Here’s an interesting YouTube video explaining how they work: