Your chances of encountering a snake in your yard vary depending on where you live but, generally speaking, the odd serpent is no problem. Very few North American snake species are venomous and most tend to avoid humans altogether, preferring instead to focus on their prey (which often includes rodents and other pest species).
If you do want to reduce the number of snakes around your home, however, salt is not the way to go. Salt does not repel snakes, and most other natural snake repellents have also been proven ineffective. Chemical snake repellents are available, but these are rarely a wise choice as they tend to poison everything they come into contact with (local wildlife and pets included).
Happily, the key to a snake-free home lies not in useless or potentially harmful repellents but in simple, preventative pest control measures.
Why keep snakes away?
Snakes are one of the most universally unpopular members of the animal kingdom. Their low social ranking probably originates from their role in getting our Biblical ancestors kicked out of Eden, but there are plenty of other reasons to dislike these legless reptiles.
Their sinuous, slithering movements, the cool/creepy way they unhinge their jaw to feed and their occasional tendency to bite inspire fear and disgust in a lot of people, but are they really dangerous?
Did you know?
The truth is that most of the time, snakes are pretty harmless. These introverted animals tend to shy away from human company altogether, and will only bite people if they feel threatened.
The odd snake on your property can even be an advantage, as many eat mice, insects and other pests that might otherwise invade your house. Most snake species native to North America are non-venomous and pose no particular threat to humans or animals.
Having said that, not all snakes are safe to have around and some (like the Rattlesnake) can deliver a painful and (though rare) even fatal bite. If you live in a region where venomous snakes are common, keeping them off your property is the best way to protect yourself from mishaps – but is salt really the way to do it?
Does salt repel snakes?
Salt does not repel snakes. They aren’t slugs so they won’t dissolve on contact with sodium chloride. Nor will snakes go out of their way to avoid it since they’re not afraid of it. Simply put, salt will have no effect on snakes.
How did the salt-against-snakes rumor originate?
The idea that snakes are afraid of salt is an old wives’ tale that is probably still circulating simply because it’s older than the internet.
In a pre-Google era, such methods were difficult to disprove, and, to be fair, snakes (and most other animals) probably will turn tail if you fling a handful of rock salt into their faces.
However, lining the borders of your land with salt is not an effective way to keep snakes out.
Are there any other natural remedies that are effective against snakes?
Several other natural remedies against snakes have been tried and tested, though only a few plant oils and extracts have been found to repel reptiles.
Can mothballs repel snakes?
Mothballs are another popular home remedy for repelling snakes that don’t work, either.
Do chemical snake repellents work?
Chemical snake repellents do exist but are not generally recommended. These products (often) contain substances that are potentially harmful to people, pets and the environment and may not be suitable for home use.
If you do choose to use a chemical snake repellent, always follow the directions on the label carefully.
How can you keep snakes away?
Salt and other snake repellents may not be much help, but that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to (a life of fear). The following preventative control measures can help to keep snakes (and other pests) out of your house:
Seal up entry points
Carefully inspect the exterior of your house and get to work blocking off all possible entry points. In particular, pay attention to:
- Gaps around doors and window frames
- Entry points into crawl spaces
Remove their food sources
Snakes are predatory creatures, and many species eat rodents. This may seem like a bonus but, the more rats and mice you have, the more snakes will want to hang out around your house. Setting up traps can effectively reduce your rodent population, therefore, the snakes’ food sources, forcing them to move to richer hunting grounds.
De-clutter your yard
Like many pest species, snakes like to rest in sheltered spots. You can reduce the likelihood of snakes seeking refuge in your yard by removing ‘harborage sites,’ which may include:
- Piles of firewood
- Stacks of boxes or other materials for recycling
- Overgrown shrubs
- Tall grasses
- Compost heaps
- Leaf piles (and other garden debris)
Snake-proof your perimeters
If you want to keep snakes off your property entirely, you may consider installing a snake-proof fence around the perimeter of your yard.
Keep pet food indoors
If you have a dog or cat, feed them indoors and store their food securely. Food scraps left lying around your yard will be a magnet to insects and rodents which, in turn, attract snakes.
Snakes don’t make popular houseguests and there are dozens of home remedies for keeping them away. Unfortunately, many natural solutions are ineffective against the reptiles, and salt is a prime example.
Salt won’t keep snakes away and other plant-based solutions may only be mildly effective and chemical repellents are the equivalent of an environmental hate-crime. The best way to keep snakes off your property is by employing pest control preventative measures. This method aims to make your home less appealing to snakes and usually includes sealing off their entry points while reducing or removing sources of food and shelter.