Even though not all snakes are venomous, it can still be frightening to have one show up when working in your yard. You may be worried that mulch attracts snakes, especially if a snake has appeared in flower beds around your house. Fortunately, this isn't the case.
Mulch and Prey
Mulch itself does not attract snakes, though there may be some instances in which it seems like it. Mice and other small rodents may be attracted to insects and grubs that have found their way into the mulch, or to seeds that have fallen from other plants that the mulch is placed around. Snakes in turn pursue the rodents and wind up in the mulched bed where you might see them.
If you leave mulch piled up instead of spreading it in layers less than 3 inches thick, snakes can burrow into it and make a den. Rodents may also use a mulch pile this way, potentially attracting snakes in search of a meal. If this happens, it isn't specifically the mulch that brought the snake, but rather the availability of a warm and safe spot to make a home. Securing mulch piles in wire cages or turning the mulch periodically will prevent snakes from making homes in it.
You may have heard that cedar mulch repels snakes, but this isn't true. Most snake repellents don't work, and it's also unsafe to use mothballs. Instead, focus on eliminating shelter and food sources for snakes to encourage them to go elsewhere. Keep your hedges trimmed, your yard mowed and avoid having large piles of brush or other materials that sit for long periods undisturbed.
Even non-venomous snakes will bite when agitated. Don't attempt to relocate or kill snakes that you find in your yard, as snake can strike from a distance of up to 1/2 times the length of their bodies. Simply leave the snake alone and it will likely leave of its own accord. Call animal control if you feel the snakes pose a danger.