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Odors that Snakes Hate

Simon Fuller
Table of Contents

When snakes start appearing in backyards and even in houses, people often turn to repellents to prevent these reptiles from coming near their property. Using odors that are unpleasant to snakes is a common method of trying to get reptiles to retreat.

Strong smells can make snakes flee an area temporarily.

Although certain odors may make snakes uncomfortable, homeowners should note that such smells won’t always drive them away.


The leaves of certain trees often prove unpleasant to nearby snakes when burnt. According to the Golden Harvest Organics website, the leaves of trees such as the Rue and Comfrey are useful for this purpose. Once burnt, the leaves should be collected and placed around the area to deter snakes.


This herb wormwood is also known by its scientific name Artemisia absinthium. It carries a sharp, overpowering smell. As such, it is often scattered in an area by homeowners wishing to deter snakes. Wormwood is most likely to produce an odor that’s unpleasant to snakes after the herb has been dried, but it can also be planted in the garden.

Sulphur and Moth Crystals

Some reports indicate that sublimed sulphur – yellow flakes that contain the element sulphur – produces a similar effect when scattered, again according to the Golden Harvest Organics website. The smell of sulphur is unpleasant for snakes on its own, but when combined with moth crystals, the odor grows stronger still. Moth crystals are also called mothballs and contain chemical pesticides. The difficulty with this combination is that because the odors are so bad, it’s less suitable for placing in a backyard if the homeowner is trying to repel snakes from her property.


Ammonia is a gas that’s well known for its particularly strong aroma. The smell is unpleasant for pretty much every living thing, including snakes, and can be used around an area so that snakes nearby smell it. Ammonia can be deployed either by soaking cloths or some rags in it and then scattering these about the area -- or by filling a dish and then leaving it in the ground.


A chief ingredient in products such as mothballs, the chemical naphthalene can also be found on its own as a pest repellent. The University of Massachusetts Amherst website suggests using naphthalene if snakes have entered a confined space, because while the chemical may not repel the reptiles from an area entirely, it may be enough to make them leave a small space.