I like to keep my backyard (and campsite when I’m away) free from snakes but because I have kids and pets, I prefer natural snake repellents.
Luckily, there are many effective natural methods to deter snakes that you can choose from.
Natural ways that actually keep snakes away are essential oils, white vinegar, and snake-repelling plants. Keeping your vegetation short (or choosing a campsite in a clearing), controlling rodents and garlic and pepper are also effective natural methods.
If you want a natural method to repel snakes, it’s good to understand how each one works so you can make an informed decision and apply it correctly.
1. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint should be at the top of the list if you want to go the essential oil route because it also repels rodents (which attract snakes) and other garden pests, like moles and squirrels.
You can use actual peppermint essential oil or buy one that specifically targets snakes and other unwanted creatures. These typically come in larger bottles.
For instance, Rodent Sheriff Repellent Spray from Amazon comes in a large spray bottle for easy application.
Made with all natural peppermint oil this is safe to use around pets and children but rodents hate it. Made locally in the USA spray this in your home or garden to repel mice, raccoons, roaches, insects, snakes and more.
To use peppermint (or any other effective essential oil), spray it around your backyard’s perimeter, entrances to your garage, under decks, trash cans and other popular snake hiding places as this YouTube video demonstrates:
2. Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon oil is a key ingredient in many commercial snake repellents because it’s one of the smells that snakes hate but humans normally like or tolerate it.
To use cinnamon oil to repel snakes, use it alone or with other essential oils and spray it around your backyard or campsite’s perimeter.
If you don’t have cinnamon essential oil handy, you can use cinnamon bark instead but you’ll need a lot of it to repel snakes.
3. Citrus-Based Essential Oil
Another popular way to keep snakes away naturally is to use citrus-based essential oils such as the following:
My personal favorite is citronella because it’s more widely available and doubles as a mosquito and fly repellent. You can use it in an essential oil burner, spray it or use it as fuel in a camping lantern, making it ideal for insect and snake-free summer nights outside or camping.
Plus, you can buy it in bulk like Hyoola Citronella Lamp Oil from Amazon. This one burns smokeless and has a gentle scent for humans.
Burns clean, smells great for you and your guests and helps to keep away unwanted pests. The lamp fuel is odor free for humans but can be smelled by pests - helping to repel them.
4. Sage and Rosemary Essential Oil
Sage and rosemary essential oils also have strong scents that snakes find repulsive and they need to be used together to be effective as a snake deterrent.
When combined, they have a grassy and herbal scent that will make your backyard or campsite smell great.
5. Cloves Essential Oil
Cloves is another essential oil that repels snakes. However, to be effective you need to use it with cedarwood and/or cinnamon oil.
After applying it to vegetation or burning it, it emits a pleasant sweet and spicy smell that many people associate with fall, which makes it a pleasant oil to use.
6. Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood oil has a great citrus and woody smell but it’s not potent enough on its own to be used as a snake repellent because it won’t overwhelm the snake’s smell sense.
You can combine it with cloves and cinnamon oil to deter snakes effectively.
7. Castor Oil
Castor oil has a slightly smoky and chocolatey scent that helps to repel snakes. However, like cloves and cedarwood oil, you need to use it alongside other oils for it to be effective because it’s a carrier oil.
As a natural snake deterrent, it’s a popular ingredient because you can usually buy it in larger bottles and it’s widely used in the hair and beauty industries.
To illustrate this, Premium Nature Castor Oil from Amazon comes in a 1-gallon bottle, lasts for ages and you can easily mix it with other essential oils.
8. White Vinegar
I love white vinegar for repelling snakes because it’s inexpensive, I can buy it in bulk and also use it for other things (like cleaning and keeping bugs away).
To repel snakes using vinegar put undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the perimeter of your property or campsite to help repel snakes.
Vinegar only really works for approximately 24 hours as a snake repellent and you'll need to reapply after rain so it's not the most effective long term solution. But as a short term natural snake repellent it works well.
9. Snake-Repelling Plants or Herbs
Not interested in constantly applying snake repellents? Why not plant some things that repel them and have a hands-off solution?
Here are some plants that deter snakes:
- Mother in laws tongue
- Andrographis paniculata
- Pink agapanthus
For these plants to be effective, plant them on the border of your garden.
10. Garlic and Pepper
Garlic and pepper is a smelly but proven home remedy that keeps snakes away. If you don’t mind the smell, combine a few crushed garlic cloves and peppercorns with a little water and apply it to your backyard or campsite’s perimeter.
If you need further proof that garlic works well to repel snakes, check out this video showing how a snake won’t cross a row of garlic cloves, even though there are mice on the other side:
11. Keeping Vegetation Short
Snakes don’t like being exposed and prefer habitat with long vegetation where they can hide and feel safe.
By keeping your grass and other vegetation short and your garden neat and tidy (with no piles of leaves, branches, etc.), you can make it inhospitable to them.
When you’re camping, choose a site in a clearing to decrease the chances of a snake being present.
12. Controlling Rodents
Controlling rodents is also a highly effective way of repelling snakes. As long as you have mice or rats on your property or campsite, snakes will be tempted to enter as they’re always on the lookout for prey.
Thankfully, there are also natural and humane ways of controlling rodents:
- Eliminating garbage and keeping it tightly sealed in the trash can.
- Sweeping up food crumbs or leftovers.
- Using peppermint essential oil to repel them.
If you control the rodent population and use another natural snake repelling method, you should be unlikely to encounter a snake.