There is no doubt that snakes serve an important part in our ecosystem, especially with regards to keeping populations of rats and mice under control. However, there are situations where you wish to restrict the areas they can access, such as chicken coops, dog pens, aviaries and backyards frequented by children. It is therefore important to limit their access in a way that do not harm them or the environment. Several methods of discouraging snakes are being bandied around various forums with everything from old-wives tales to innovative technologies. This post aims to discuss the various options and their effectiveness.
Keeping it short
Keeping the grass short is a frequent advice to limit snakes, as the snakes do not like to be out in the open, as they are exposed to flying predators. However, during the warmer months, snakes desperate for water can easily venture over short grass, dirt and paved areas, attracted by the pets’ water bowls.
As Australia is heading into snake season with the warmer weather, Murray Stewart, owner of The Fencing Store has noticed a significant increase in enquiries for snake proof fencing mesh as people are taking precautions to protect pets, livestock and children from the slithering animals. Murray recommends a fine 6.5mm or 9.5mm square wire mesh that will keep most snakes out as long as the fence is constructed in the right manner. On his website, Murray has added a blog post about a customer who created a snake proof fence for their beloved dogs.
Setting up snake proof fences is undoubtedly one of the best ways to keep snakes away while not harming the environment, as it keeps the snakes free to roam outside the fencing while not harming them.
This falls under the old-wives tale category. I read regular forum posts advising to use naphthalene as snake repellent. Naphthalene is an ingredient in mothballs, and it’s scent is supposed to repel snakes. Naphthalene is also a toxic substance as covered on epa.gov. It is not recommended to place this substance out in nature, where it can be ingested by wildlife and cause terminal damage. Besides, studies show that Naphthalene is ineffective in repelling some snakes in the first place.
Most snakes are wary of humans and larger animals, and sense our presence by the vibration our footsteps make when moving around. If awake, this vibration normally results in most snakes evacuating the area. Dogmaster.com.au retails a solar-powered snake shield, which in effect is a stake that emits a vibrating pulse into the ground, which should deter the snakes without hurting them or the environment. The only negative, is that it might repel the snakes from your shed as well, leaving rats and mice to roam free.
Liquid snake repellent
Liquid Fence have created a liquid and granular snake repellent that according to their website works by emitting a scent that “confuses and irritates the snake’s chemosensory systems”, making them look for another place to inhabit. The website further claims that the product is all natural, but at the time of writing, I have not had the opportunity to test it out, so I cannot cast any judgement on it.
For permanent areas, I recommend setting up a snake proof fence to keep snakes out. The vibrating snake shield would be a great investment for portable applications, such as camping trips.