Some snakes prove themselves beneficial by keeping rodents out of your home and garden, but not all snakes are welcome visitors. This is especially true if you have poisonous snakes on your property or keep chickens or other egg-laying birds that tempt snakes to steal eggs. Keeping snakes off of your property isn't always easy, and even commercial snake repellents fall short on that task. While some homemade snake repellents may offer limited benefit in certain situations, you'll likely need to try other tactics to take care of your snake problems.
Essential oils, such as cinnamon oil and clove oil, show at least limited success as a snake repellent. In field tests by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, mixtures containing these ingredients in different combinations showed success in repelling brown tree snakes when sprayed directly on the snakes. However, similar results couldn't be obtained when applying the oils to an area that testers wanted to protect. To be effective, you need to spray essential oils from a sprayer right onto the snakes that you find.
Altering a snake's habitat goes a long way toward repelling it from your property, and this can often be done without undertaking a major landscaping project. Keeping grass cut short, thinning mulch so that it is less than three inches deep and eliminating scrap piles removes comfortable places that snakes can hide and may drive off snakes that are on your property. Keeping animal food in sealed containers will also make your home less attractive to mice and other rodents, which in turn can lower attraction for snakes as their food source dries up.
Minnow traps are useful for capturing snakes for relocation, especially when other repellent attempts are unsuccessful. Place eggs or other bait inside the traps and set the traps in an area that snakes frequent. Due to the design of the traps, snakes can easily enter the trap but will have significant difficulty escaping. The snakes can then be turned over to animal control or carefully released elsewhere.
Moth balls and moth crystals are often suggested as snake repellents, but using them for this purpose is not only dangerous but is also illegal. Moth balls contain naphthalene, a regulated chemical that can present a danger to children, animals and even the environment. The United States Environmental Protection Agency maintains an information page about naphthalene and its uses, and goes so far as to point out use as a snake repellent specifically as a potentially dangerous use. On top of that, avoidance tests performed by the University of Nebraska Lincoln showed little effectiveness for naphthalene repellents.