7 Scents That Irresistibly Attract Snakes to Your Yard

Snakes are drawn to your yard by specific scents, turning your outdoor space into an unintended haven for these slithering visitors. 

Armed with an acute sense of smell, snakes use this powerful tool not just for hunting but also to find comfortable habitats—which might just include your backyard. 

Here’s the common smells that attract snakes and explore effective strategies to manage their presence, ensuring your yard stays less inviting to these uninvited guests.

1. Rodents

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Why They Attract Snakes: Rodents are a primary food source for many snake species. The smell of rodents, including mice and rats, can attract snakes from afar as they seek their next meal.

How to Manage: Regular pest control measures should be implemented to reduce the rodent population and, thereby, the smells that attract snakes. Sealing up holes in the exterior of your house, keeping basements and attics clean, and storing food in rodent-proof containers can help minimize rodent presence.

2. Insects

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Why They Attract Snakes: Many smaller snake species feed on insects. Gardens, compost piles, and even wood stacks can harbor insects that produce scents that snakes find enticing.

How to Manage: Regular garden maintenance, such as clearing away dead vegetation and managing compost properly, can help reduce insect populations. Consider using natural predators like birds or beneficial insects to keep pest insects in check.

3. Water Sources

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Why They Attract Snakes: Water not only provides hydration to snakes but also attracts their prey, like frogs and certain insects. Ponds, leaking faucets, or even pet water bowls can emit scents of these prey animals and lure snakes.

How to Manage: Proper management of water sources is critical. Fixing leaks, maintaining clean and covered water storage, and ensuring that garden ponds have protective measures can deter both prey animals and snakes.

4. Bird Eggs & Chicks

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Why They Attract Snakes: Some snake species are known to prey on bird eggs and chicks. The smell of birds can draw snakes to birdhouses and trees where birds nest.

How to Manage: To discourage snakes, it’s advisable to place bird feeders and birdhouses away from the house and use snake-proof designs. Regular checks for signs of snakes and removal of any found can also help.

5. Fruits & Vegetables

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Why They Attract Snakes: Overripe or rotting fruits and vegetables can attract insects and rodents, which can bring snakes looking for a meal. The scent of decaying organic matter can also mimic the smell of potential snake hiding spots.

How to Manage: Regular harvesting and proper disposal of garden waste are essential. Using closed bins for composting and keeping your garden tidy can reduce the smells that attract both the primary and secondary attractors of snakes.

6. Pet Food

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Why They Attract Snakes: Outdoor pet food can attract various animals, including rodents, which are a food source for snakes. The smell of pet food can also attract small animals that snakes prey on.

How to Manage: Feeding pets indoors or promptly removing food dishes after feeding can help minimize the attraction. Using airtight containers to store pet food can prevent the scent from spreading.

7. Tall Grass & Foliage

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Why They Attract Snakes: Tall grass and dense foliage can harbor insects and small animals, creating a hunting ground for snakes. The smells associated with these habitats can signal a safe and fruitful area for snakes to explore.

How to Manage: Keeping your lawn trimmed and removing excessive plant cover can make your yard less appealing to prey animals and predators like snakes. This includes clearing piles of leaves and debris where scents may accumulate.

Safe Snake Removal Techniques

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Encountering a snake in your yard, despite all preventive measures, can be a common occurrence, especially in areas close to natural habitats or with abundant wildlife. Knowing how to remove these snakes safely is crucial not only for the safety of the residents but also for the humane treatment and preservation of the snakes themselves. 

It’s essential to approach the situation calmly and knowledgeably, as mishandling can lead to injury for both the person and the snake. 

Understand the Snake Species

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Identify Before Acting: Before attempting any removal, it’s important to identify whether the snake is venomous or non-venomous. If you are unsure, treat the snake as if it were venomous. 

Use websites that provide resources to help identify common snake species ¹.

Physical Removal

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Non-venomous Snakes: You can use a long stick or a snake hook to gently guide the snake into a bucket with a lid. Wear thick gloves and long sleeves to protect your hands and arms from bites.

Venomous Snakes: If the snake is venomous, do not attempt to handle it yourself. Contact local wildlife control or a professional snake removal service.

Use Snake Traps

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When selecting snake traps, it’s important to choose those designed to capture them without injuring them. Several types of humane snake traps are on the market, such as glue traps with a release agent, box traps, and funnel traps. These should be placed along walls or near areas where snakes have been frequently observed.

Glue traps, for instance, can be effective but must be monitored closely to ensure that snakes are not left in distress for long periods. If a snake is captured in a glue trap, vegetable oil can be used gently to free the snake without harm.

For a more hands-off approach, box and funnel traps allow the snake to enter but not escape, making it easy to transport them for relocation. It’s also wise to check these traps regularly to ensure that any captured snake can be relocated promptly and safely.

Relocation

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Once a snake has been captured, it must be relocated properly to ensure its survival and reduce the likelihood of it returning. 

Choose a relocation site with similar environmental conditions to the snake’s original habitat. This should be a wild area with adequate cover and food sources, ideally confirmed not to be another person’s property.

Snakes play crucial roles in their ecosystems ², often controlling populations of rodents and insects. Release the snake at least one mile away from your home, as snakes have a strong homing instinct and can return if released too close.

Legal Considerations

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Depending on your location, handling, and relocating snakes can be subject to legal restrictions. Many regions have specific regulations that protect wildlife, including venomous and non-venomous snakes.

For example, some states require permits for the removal or relocation of certain species. To get accurate information about the laws applicable to your area, contact your state’s Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism or visit a relevant government website like USA.gov.

In some cases, particularly with endangered or protected species, it may be illegal to interact with the snake without professional assistance. Always ensure that your actions comply with state and federal wildlife laws to avoid legal repercussions and to support conservation efforts.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.