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Do Mothballs Keep Snakes Away?

Snakes are the unsung heroes of pest control. They eat mice and rats and keep down the number of moles in the garden. This doesn’t mean it’s not a shock when you’re cleaning out your garage and you find a snakeskin. No one wants to find an abandoned skin, or worse, the entire snake, in their garage, ductwork, or toilet. The majority of snakes are harmless and shy. Even venomous snakes have no interest in you. They just want to go about their day. That doesn’t make snakes any less scary for some people. For some, just the idea of snakes anywhere is enough to send them into a panic.

If you can’t stand the thought of snakes in or around your house, here are some steps you can take to make sure snakes stay outside where they belong.

Do mothballs repel snakes?

For years mothballs have been recommended as a no-fail way to keep snakes away. Many houses in snake prone areas are surrounded by mothballs in Spring and Summer. Does this really work? The experts say no. Mothballs may repel small rodents and insects. They are not effective against snakes. Mothballs used outside the house are dangerous to children or pets who may ingest them. Illness has also been reported in people who are exposed to large amounts of mothballs.

If mothballs pose a danger and don’t really repel snakes what can you do?

Don’t worry, there are safer more effective methods for keeping snakes away from your house and garden.

11 other ways to repel snakes

1. Cinnamon and Clove Oil

A blend of cinnamon and clove oil has been shown to be effective in keeping snakes away. A 50/50 mixture of cinnamon oil and clove oil, can keep snakes away. You can easily find these oils online (see below for recommendations), and best of all, they leave nothing on the ground which can be ingested by children or animals.

2. West Indian Lemon Grass

This herb gives a lemony flavor to soups, settles digestion, and helps keep snakes away! It produces a citrusy smell that has been shown to deter snakes and also repels ticks and mosquitos. You can find West Indian Lemongrass on Amazon or at your local nursery.

3. Install A Perch or Nesting Box

Attracting a bird that preys on snakes, is definitely a good way to repel them. A perch pole or raptor nesting box will help attract large predatory birds, such as hawks and owls that will quickly handle your snake problem.  They will also help control the rodent population. Decreasing the numbers of mice and rats will also decrease the number of snakes in your yard. You can find nest boxes for owls and birds of prey on Amazon, see below for recommendations.

4. Avoid Mulch in Your Landscaping

image: Pixabay.com

Mulch attracts snakes and gives them a place to stay in the winter and breed. It also attracts the rodents snakes prey on. You can jazz up your yard, and avoid attracting snakes by using river rock or gravel. Gravel and small rocks are more difficult fo snakes to burrow into, which makes it less appealing.

You may also like:  Why Are Moles Destroying My Lawn?

5. Garlic

Garlic is another plant that has been shown to aid in keeping snakes away. You can either plant it or make a spray to use outside in the areas you have seen snakes. To make the spray you combine 10 cloves of garlic with garlic-infused oil and water. You will need to reapply this spray every 2-3 weeks, or after a rain. You can find garlic-infused oil as well as garlic bulbs on Amazon.

image: Pixabay.com

6. Trim Your Branches

Thinking of snakes falling from trees is a little creepy. Snakes are good climbers, and tree branches are very tempting. To prevent snakes from dropping into your yard, or onto your roof, keep any low hanging branches trimmed, and trim branches away from your house. Invest in a good pair of tree trimmers to trim the branches back.

We like these that you can find on Amazon for easily chopping branches, TABOR TOOLS GG12A Anvil Lopper

7. Mother-in-laws Tongue

Unlike garlic and lemongrass, this plant is odorless, but it is effective at keeping snakes away. It is a succulent with sharp leaves, that does well outside year-round in warmer climates. Also known as the snake plant, you can find it here.

8. Prevent Snakes in the Woodpile

If you like to keep your woodpile stocked year-round, you will need to make it as snake-proof as possible. This will help keep unwanted guests from moving in. Woodpiles are a favorite sheltering place for snakes, so to prevent any surprises when you get wood for your next bonfire, try to store your wood on a rack at least a foot off the ground.

Cover it with a tarp, and do not store your wood against your house. You can store your wood on a stack of cinder-blocks, or get a heavy duty wood rack that comes with a cover like this one.

9. Seal Your House

To prevent snakes from getting inside your house, find and seal any cracks that are large enough for a snake to crawl through. Don’t just look for holes large enough for adult snakes, juvenile snakes are quite small and can squeeze in through very small cracks. Seal any crack that is more than 1/4 inch. Don’t forget to check your window frames and door jambs.

10. Keep your lawn mowed and limit watering

image: Pixabay.com

An overgrown lawn will attract lots of critters that make a tasty buffet for snakes. Keep your grass mowed to limit small animals moving in. An extremely moist lawn will also attract food for snakes. Small frogs and toads thrive in a moist environment and are a very tempting meal. Keeping your lawn short, and limiting watering will keep snakes away by limiting the amount of food available.

11. Marigolds

Marigolds don’t just brighten up your garden, they are also a natural snake repellent. Marigolds have an odor that is unpleasant to snakes, and they dislike slithering across it. Marigolds are also handy for repelling other pests. You can order marigold plants and seedlings on Amazon.


Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of snakes in their yard, no matter how beneficial they are. There ways to keep away snakes and the critters that attract them. Many of these do not involve dangerous poisons and chemicals. No way of repelling snakes is completely foolproof, and if you are still seeing snakes after trying a variety of deterrents you may need to contact a wildlife specialist to determine what it is that is making your home and garden so appealing to snakes.