Though snakes can be useful to have around because of their tendency to prey on pest animals, they are not welcome guests in some situations. Chemical snake repellents are sold as a means of repelling these reptilian visitors, but according to the University of Missouri Extension website, they have not been shown to effectively keep snakes away. There are other natural and effective ways to deter snakes from unwanted areas.
Eliminate Snake Hideouts
Perhaps the most effective nonchemical method to control snake populations is to remove the habitat features that attract them. Wood piles, tall weeds, leaf piles and rock landscaping provide homes for many of the animals that snakes prey on, as well as providing shelter and hiding areas for the snakes themselves. By cleaning up areas where these ideal habitats have developed, you can discourage snakes from hanging around.
Exclude Snakes From Buildings
Exclusion methods can be an effective way to prevent snakes from entering homes, sheds, outbuildings or animal enclosures. Check for any cracks in foundations larger than one-quarter inch and fill them with mortar or other sealants. Cover holes in wooden buildings with 1/4-inch wire mesh or sheet metal. Make sure that all windows, doors, gates and screens fit tightly into their frames, with no gaps for snakes to enter.
Install a Snake-Proof Fence
If you are trying to repel snakes from a small area like a garden or children's play area, consider installing a snake-proof fence. Effective fences for keeping out snakes should be made of 1/4-inch wire mesh and should extend at least 6 inches underground. Above ground, the fence needs to be 30 inches tall, and be slanted outward at a 30-degree angle to prevent climbing. Make sure that the supporting stakes are inside the fence and that no vegetation or debris rests against it.
Ineffective Methods of Control
Mothballs, cayenne pepper, rope, sulfur, cedar oil and wood smoke have traditionally been touted as effective means of repelling snakes. However, research published by North Carolina State University, Raleigh suggests that these methods of snake deterrence are ineffective. Researchers tested whether a snake would be stopped or slowed when these substances were applied to their paths and found that these methods did little or nothing to deter the snakes.
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