MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Can mothballs keep snakes away?

Date: Tue Jun 20 21:46:05 2000
Posted By: Mark Madachik, PD, Heartland Farm/Nursery
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 959266626.Zo

Hi Doug...Well no mater what I say here Mothers are normally smarter than 
the rest of us. But they are subject to false imformation as are we all.

There are no repellents, fumigants or toxicants federally registered for 
snake control. The potential for development of such snake controls is 
complicated by the diet, body temperature, and other biological aspects of 

Various home remedies have been suggested for repelling snakes. Several of 
these were evaluated on whether they would repel black rat snakes (Elaphe 
obsoleta). Treatments included MOTH BALLS, sulfur, gourd vines, a tacky 
bird repellent, lime, cayenne pepper spray, sisal rope, coal tar and 
creosote, artificial skunk scent, and musk from a king snake (eats other 
snakes). None of these remedies prevented the snakes from crossing them. 

Some sticky materials have prevented snakes from climbing to wood duck 
nest boxes when the materials were applied in 18-inch bands around the 
supporting poles. This technique might be appropriate if snakes are a 
problem at bird nest boxes mounted on poles, but otherwise is less 

The best way to discourage any pest is to eliminate the environment that 
it likes.  With snakes one should keep debris (wood piles, old tires, etc)
that could provide cozy places for the snake.  Trim shrubs and plants up 
from the ground to eliminate cover. Make sure homes are sealed well around 
foundations and screens are tight.  There is a snake proof fence 
manufactured but it can get costly for large areas.  

Snakes are by no means my favorite but I remind myself of the rodents that 
would probably over run me if they were not around. Nature is a fragile 
thing and moth balls can be highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates and 
possibly vertebrates.  Something to think about.   Mark ....

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