Do Snake Repellents Really Work?

By Landon Easton •  Updated: 03/01/21 •  5 min read

Though they aren’t 100% effective, snake repellents are formulated with different active ingredients, natural or synthetic, and though they are most effective in keeping off snakes because snakes can detect different scents and smells, and if they come across any smell they don’t like, they are slowed down, or they turn away.

Snake repellents are chemical or sound deterrents that send away snakes, but whether they really work or not depends on their strength and also the type of snakes that you are trying to repel.

Some of the best snake repellents are scent-based, and they deter snakes because they pose a challenge to the snakes that are attracted to different smells.

Snakes smell through their nostrils, just like other creatures, but unlike the rest of the animals that crawl the earth, the snakes use the most sensitive parts of their body, an organ in the roof of their mouth called the Jacobson’s organ or the vomeronasal, to sniff new smells. Snakes will then flick the air using their tongues, pulling in the scent particles that help them track prey. In the case of scented chemicals that are toxic to the snakes, the snake would naturally avoid the snakes and the area.

As a result, the scent-based repellents confuse or irritate snakes, sending them away. For maximum effectiveness, the odor strength rather than its stinkiness is important, which is why some of the best snake repellent products will have high concentrations of cloves and cinnamon, etc., and basically, higher concentrations of the active ingredients.

Naphthalene, for example, is an effective repellent for snakes. It causes damage to the retina or the nerves. Naphthalene is extracted from the black walnut tree, and it is one of the strongest chemical agents that deter snakes. But do they really work? And if they work, how?

How do snake repellents work?

Odor-based snake repellents

Odor-based snake repellents work best because they have a strong, pleasant smell that lasts long, keeping snakes away for a long time.

For maximum effectiveness, the odor-based sprays must last longer, even through the rain. Avoid products that would dissipate faster, opting instead for the repellents that boast long-term repellency, specifically, the repellents that contain higher concentrations of the active ingredients, as well as granular formulations that are resistant to the rain. All you need to do is to ensure that the scent of the repellent spray overwhelms the snake’s sense of smell, reducing the snake’s ability to detect prey while also acting as a physical irritant.

Ultrasonic snake repellents

Ultrasonic snake repellents are some of the best repellents because the snakes are able to detect sound through vibrations. It’s how they locate prey, detect risk, as well as hazards. Snake repellents emit ultrasonic vibrations on the ground, and the vibrations send the message to the reptiles that they are unsafe, keeping them away. An ultrasonic repellent like Sentinel Q, for example, will mimic a herd of cows, and any nearby snakes will keep away as a result. The ultrasonic frequencies are inaudible to human beings, although the sound vibrations cover larger rooms.

In addition to the type of sound emitted, the ultrasonic repellents could keep snakes away by releasing sound pulses every few seconds or minutes. The electronic pulses and electronic vibrations will scare away snakes and other pests because they present as threats.

The biggest drawback to the snake repellents is that in as much as they may work, snakes are a little naughty, and they will hide in unlikely spaces, striking when you least expect.

Snake Repellent How it works Transmission
Scent-Based/ Spray Chemical Components (naphthalene or sulfur) Spray or Granular
Natural repellent Fragrant essential oils Spray or Granular
Ultrasonic Repellents Ultrasonic pulses Ultrasonic device

Choosing snake repellents that work

Although most snake repellents keep off snakes, they are often made of harmful chemicals that are not only toxic to human beings but also other insects. Most snake deterrents are made of chemicals that are unsafe for kids and pets. Deterrents made of ingredients like naphthalene, paradichlorobenzene, or sulfur are often considered unsafe, but if you must find an effective snake deterrent, it would be wise to find a product whose active ingredients are EPA-registered, for example, Dr.T’s Snake-A-Way Repelling Granules. You need to avoid things like ceramic eggs, golf balls, or other snakes.

As mentioned above, the best snake repellents are odor or scent-based, which is why a product like Ortho Snake B Gon, the snake repellent granules, is one of the best repellents you could try. Its active ingredients include essential oils like cinnamon oil, castor oil, geraniol, clove, and peppermint oils. These essential oils overpower the snakes’ senses, chasing them away.


Although snake repellents are recommended and ideal for keeping snakes away, they aren’t always 100% effective, and there is a likely chance that one or two snakes may bypass your boundaries. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use snake repellents, especially if you’ve noticed a snake problem or if you live in an area with rampant snake infestations.

Keep in mind that how well the snake repellents work depends on the strength of the repellent and the active ingredients incorporated in the repellents. The ultrasonic repellents also work only if the sonic vibrations emitted scare away or disturb the snakes, keeping them off; while the granular or aerosol repellents target the Jacobson’s organ, deterring the snakes.


Are there natural snake repelling techniques?

Snake repellents formulated with scented essential oils are great for keeping snakes away, but did you know that you could easily keep away snakes by mowing the lawn regularly, trimming low-to-ground shrubs and plants that snakes could hide in, and even removing lawn debris, rocks, log piles and stumps of wood that snakes could hide.

Why do snake repellents work?

Essentially, the active ingredients or the mode of action of the snake repellent helps keep the snakes away by presenting as threats to the snakes.

Landon Easton

Landon is a veteran in the Pest Control industry, with over 15 years of experience and has helped thousands of homeowners. He started Your Pest Guide in 2020 as a way to help spread his knowledge to the general public, so they can get rid of all of their creepy-crawlies in their homes without spending an arm and a leg.