Tips on Helping Snakes Leave Your Home

Published by Malinda Riquelme.

Snakes are struggling to survive in a world where human encroachment has stolen much of the “wild” away from wildlife, so we hope you’ll agree that they deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. Kindness, including toward snakes, is a virtue.

Snakes often enter homes through crevices or holes when they’re attracted by prey (e.g., rodents, lizards, insects, slugs, and frogs) or seeking warmth. Killing snakes is not a solution, because more will arrive for still-available resources. Snakes usually enter buildings at ground level, and some are able to fit through very small openings no more than 1/8 inch wide. Closely inspect your home’s foundation for unsealed wire or pipe conduits and cracks around plumbing, heating/cooling, or electrical ducts. Some snakes are good climbers, and trees, shrubs, stone walls, or chimneys may provide additional access, so be sure to look for openings around the eaves and roof as well. Also inspect under porches, steps, and where decks attach to the house. Once the entire exterior has been canvassed, decide which of the openings is likely to be the primary entry and then seal the others using foam sealant, steel wool, hardware cloth, mortar, or metal flashing. In the suspected main opening, install a one-way door for any remaining snakes so they can exit but not return. Weather-stripping cellar/basement windows or doors that don’t shut tightly is also a good idea. Snakes are highly sensitive to odors, so those currently denning in the home can be “evicted” by applying products such as vinegar, lime mixed with hot pepper, garlic or onions, Epsom salt, or oils such as clove, cinnamon, cedarwood, or peppermint to the perimeter. Decoy snakes can help as deterrents, as can commercial products such as Liquid Fence Snake Repellent. Lime is effective when mixed with hot pepper or peppermint oil. Mix these together in a glass bottle and apply around the perimeter of your yard.

There are several steps to take when encouraging snakes to relocate away from your property once they’re outside. Reduce the alluring presence of rodents by keeping food and trash sealed in tightly lidded containers, feeding pets indoors and removing their unconsumed food immediately, and never feeding wildlife (even birds). Eliminate hiding places such as wood piles, rocks, deep mulch beds, thick shrubbery, and other debris. Remove any sources of standing water, such as birdbaths. Keep grass cut and brush removed. Outdoor deterrents include the items listed for interior application, along with ammonia-soaked rags placed in sheds, crawlspaces, and the like. Finally, exclusion barriers made of 1/4-inch hardware cloth can be installed around your property’s perimeter to deter entry further.

If you find a snake or snakes in an open area within your home, try gently sweeping them into a waste basket and releasing them away from your property. That said, garter snakes are completely harmless to humans, and most people consider them quite beneficial! If they are in holes in your walls or elsewhere indoors, you can “evict” them by making your home less desirable to them. Most snakes don’t like to be in the same vicinity as dogs or cats and are repulsed by the following.

  • Clove and cinnamon oil: These two natural ingredients work best to repel snakes when combined. Mix them together in a spray bottle and spray anywhere snakes have been seen.
  • Garlic and onions: These work as natural snake repellents when planted outside. You can also chop them up, mix them with rock salt, and sprinkle the mixture around your yard.
  • Vinegar: This is an effective snake repellent around water sources. No dilution is necessary. Pour standard white vinegar around the edges of ponds and pools to deter snakes.

Again, please remember that snakes are merely struggling to survive in a world where human encroachment has stolen much of the “wild” away from wildlife, so please do all you can to understand their plight and treat them with kindness.

For more information about how to live in harmony with wildlife, please visit or contact us directly at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to advise you further.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind