I love everything about camping EXCEPT finding a snake curled up in my tent. It's a good joke when it's a plastic snake, but definitely not fun when it's a real one.
There are some simple proven ways to protect your tent from snakes and make sure snakes never end up in your sleeping bag. Follow these precautions and you should have a snake free tent, even in areas with lots of snakes.
To keep snakes out of your tent make sure to camp in a clearing away from long grass or bushes were snakes can hide. Keep your tent zipped up at all times and keep food and drink in airtight containers to keep away rodents and snakes.
You may also consider putting snake repellent around the perimeter of your campsite or using a snake barrier if camping with small children.
Using citronella oil instead of regular camping lantern fuel can also help but shouldn't be relied on as the only snake repellent.
If you want to keep snakes out of your tent when camping, it’s important to use a method that actually works.
1. Keep Your Tent Securely Zipped Up
Physical barriers and the most effect way to keep snakes out of your tent and your tent itself is a physical barrier – if you keep it zipped up!
Snakes are timid creatures and like hiding away in sheltered and dark places, like your tent. When the weather cools down at night, they sometimes seek shelter in warm places, making tents ideal.
The best way to prevent this is to keep your tent securely zipped up as much as possible so that no snakes can sneak in. This means keeping it closed both during the day as well as at night.
Of course, you’ll need to unzip your tent when you need to fetch things and go to bed but make sure to always close it up once you exit the tent.
As added protection, keep your sleeping bag zipped up until just before you go to sleep. Reduce the places that snakes can hide and you're less likely to get a nasty surprise.
2. Keep Food and Drink in Airtight Containers
Snakes are scared of humans and usually keep away when they hear human activity. However, they actively hunt rodents and may still enter your campsite or tent if there are rats or mice scurrying around.
You can prevent this from happening by ensuring your tent and campsite don’t have rodents. Rodents are attracted to food crumbs, greasy fire ash and garbage so be sure to eliminate these as much as possible.
Rodents can easily eat through flimsy food packaging and storing food and drinks in durable airtight containers is a better option.
Sistema Large Food Storage Container from Amazon is a great option for food storage when camping as it’s BPA free and will keep your food fresh.
3. Apply an Effective Snake Repellent Around Your Tent/Campsite
Snakes have a highly-developed sense of smell and are repelled by a wide range of snake deterrents including:
- Commercial snake repellents. These are easy to use and a good repellent will be non-toxic and won’t harm the surrounding vegetation or wildlife.
My favorite snake repellent product for camping are these Pufado snake repellent balls. They are made from essential oils making them safe to use around pets and humans and they are easy to place around your tent or campsite perimeter.
They last 2-3 months but they are compact and so can easily be packed up after a couple of days or weeks camping and be stored again for your next camping trip. They even work after rain.
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. If you prefer natural products, essential oils are your best bet. The most effective ones for keeping snakes away are cinnamon, peppermint, cedarwood and cloves.
- White vinegar. This is my favorite way to repel snakes because white vinegar is inexpensive and I can also use it to clean my stove and if I run out of bug repellent. Just spray white vinegar around the perimeter of your tent or campsite each day to deter snakes from entering the area.
- Ammonia is another effective way to keep snakes away but be sure not to apply it directly to vegetation because it’s toxic (you also don't want to breath it in). To use it, soak some paper towels in ammonia, place them in a ziplock bag and then open it near around the perimeter of your campsite when you arrive.
4. Use a Snake Barrier Around Your Tent
If you’re camping in an area with a high snake population, it could be a good idea to use a snake barrier in addition to keeping your tent zipped up. This can be especially effective if you've got small children who like to play on the ground and may not be super aware of the danger of snakes.
Snake barriers for camping are easier to use than you think because they fold up compactly and you can install them within less than 5 minutes. If you have infant children crawling around on the grass around your tent, they’ll also keep them safe.
Atrox’s snake barrier is an excellent consideration because it’s made from slippery fabric that snakes find impossible to move across. It also has an overlapping apron around the outside, making snakes unable to move over.
The YouTube video below demonstrates how a camping snake barrier works:
4. Use Citronella as Camping Lantern Oil
If you’re looking for a multi-purpose product that will keep snakes out of your tent but also repel irritating insects like mosquitoes or flies, citronella oil is a fantastic choice.
Citronella oil is a citrus-based essential oil with a potent scent that snakes hate. You can apply it to your tent’s perimeter but it’s more effective if you use it in place of fuel for your camping lantern.
As the citronella oil burns, it releases a pleasant-smelling scent and also burns smokeless. If you buy it in bulk, it’s relatively inexpensive and you can transport it in a plastic container so it doesn’t break.
Hyoola Citronella Lantern Oil from Amazon can be used in most camping lanterns or essential oil burners. If you don’t want to use citronella oil, you could burn large citronella candles around your tent.
This Coleman Citronella lantern is also a good option to provide you with 70+ hours of light at night while also keeping away insects and deterring snakes.
Long lasting candle uses natural citronella oil to enhance your outdoor experience and keep away mosquitos and other pests.