What Does Salt Do To Snakes? [Nothing! Do This Instead]

Photo: Ken Griffiths / Shutterstock

Salt is commonly used to repel or kill some pests. It can draw water out of the slimy surfaces of pesky slugs and snails. This causes them to dry out, die, and leave your vegetation and plants alone.  

Salt can also repel some insects such as cockroaches. However, the same is not true for snakes.

Salt does nothing to snakes since they have protective scales and not slimy skin. Salt also does not repel snakes, but other methods can be used to deter them. These include eliminating hiding spots, cracks or gaps in structures, food and prey sources, and using natural repellants. Wildlife or pest control can assist with determining and remediating problem areas on a property as well as relocating snakes.

Continue reading for more information about where snakes live and shelter, as well as how to deter them away from your home and property.

Where Snakes Are Found

Snakes are limbless, carnivorous, vertebrate reptiles that belong to the suborder Serpente, consisting of over 3000 species.

They are ectothermic, cold-blooded, and exchange heat with the surrounding environment.

Snakes are found in the wild, and can also be found sheltering in or near homes and buildings. 

They can be active at night or during the day, eating a variety of protein sources such as rodents, eggs, small birds, and insects.


Snakes shelter and hide in places that offer protection from the weather and climate, and any potential predators, such as raptor birds, other snakes, and honey badgers.

Many snakes ideally like cool, dark, and damp places, where they may also find sources of food such as rats and mice. 

Shelter can be found in sheds, basements, rock piles, underground rodent burrows or dens, logs, bushes, stumps, or under sand or gravel.

In The Wild

Depending upon the species, snakes are found to be living in many different kinds of habitats

These include:

  • Grasslands
  • Prairies
  • Tropical forests
  • Forests
  • Swamps
  • Deserts
  • Freshwater
  • Marine (salt) water
  • Subterranean (underground)

People’s Homes

Snakes are often in garden areas where food sources, such as mice and insects, are plentiful. Landscaping offers cool and protective areas for a snake to rest. 

Rock piles and other cooled or shaded shelters near or inside homes are excellent resting places for snakes. 

Snakes can squeeze into tiny spaces and through cracks. They can be found in leaky water pipes or walls as they look for an escape from extreme, hot temperatures.

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Snake Signs And Identification

If you notice signs of snakes in your home, you can try several strategies to deter them. It is important to use caution when dealing with any snake if it is poisonous.

Signs Of Snakes In Your Home

If you don’t physically see a snake, other signs of one could be shed snakeskin, long lines of tracks in dust or dirt, snake droppings, or a musky, rotten cucumber smell in an enclosure.

Snake excrement typically is black or brown in a solid, lumpy log shape. A white and chalky urea cap (solid mass of crystals from urine) will sit on one end of the excrement.

Venomous Or Not?

The majority of snakes are non-venomous, capturing prey through constriction movement or overpowering them and swallowing them live and whole. 

Only about 600 species of snakes are considered venomous.

There are a few ways to determine if a snake is venomous, which can include the following in many venomous species:

  • A single row of scales on the underbelly leading to the anus
  • Triangular head shape (some non-venomous have them too, however)
  • Pointy snout
  • Elliptical pupils in the eyes
  • Heat-sensing pits near the eyes
  • Colorful scales

This video demonstrates how to identify a poisonous snake:

However, it may not be worth the risk to get close enough to examine a snake’s physical characteristics. 

If possible, take a photo of the snake, and keep your distance. If you are bitten by the snake, contact emergency services.

When in doubt, professional pest or wildlife control has the tools and expertise to safely assist you.

11 Ways To Repel Snakes

Snakes are an important part of the ecosystem, as both predator and prey. In some areas, it is illegal to kill snakes due to their important role. They are a food source for birds, mammals, and reptiles. Conversely, snakes keep small rodents (and their diseases) and slugs at bay. 

The following strategies can be used to keep snakes away from your home and landscaping.

1. Trap

Bait is generally used with traps. 

Snakes have a Jacobson’s organ, which sits above the tongue in the roof of a snake’s mouth. As the snake flicks its tongue out, it collects odor particles that the organ can detect.

Use a commercially made snake trap or box that lets the snake in, but not out. Many of these traps have glue in them to hold the snake in place. This glue is humane and does not harm the snake. Many commercial traps come with a bad-smelling odor to lure snakes in.

A household item, such as a garbage can or bucket can be used. The trap should have bait for the snake such as a rat, mouse, or chicken egg. Once the snake slithers in, quickly and carefully put the lid on.  

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You can also create a barrier around the snake with boxes or other intrusive household items until it can be put into containment.

If the snake is not poisonous, release it into a local, natural wildlife area such as a forest. Otherwise, contact pest or wildlife control.

2. Encourage The Snake To Move

If the snake is outside, use a garden hose and spray the snake. It will slither away. While it may return to look for food, this can get it away from you.

If the snake is inside, open a door or window. Wear pants, shoes, and socks. Try spraying it with a steady stream of water from a spray bottle, or gently nudge it with the long handle of a broom.  

3. Landscaping: Trim And Removal Of Items

Try the following:

  • Keep vegetation and bushes short around the edge of your home and other structures
  • Remove large boulders or decorative rocks from the landscaping
  • Remove log piles and compost heaps
  • Trim bushes, keeping the part close to the ground short in length
  • Spread mulch out so that it does not form piles for snakes to hide in
  • Keep lawns mowed and short
  • Eliminate old animal burrows by filling them in with soil

These strategies keep both mice (a food source) and snakes from finding hidden, cool shelters. 

In areas that are wide and open, with short grasses, snakes are exposed to predators and are less likely to be seen there.

4. Keep Mice Away

Mice and other rodents are a common food source for snakes. If you have an abundance of mice, then snakes will come to eat them. 

Keep bird feeders (seeds) away from the proximity of your property. Store bird seed inside a sealed container.

If you feed pets outside, do not leave their food or any remnants sitting outside for longer than the pets’ meal time. Keep pet food in sealed containers.

Use natural deterrents, such as peppermint oil or cinnamon, to create a strong odor around the barriers of your home to repel rodents.

5. Seal Gaps Around Your Home

Seal any gaps in bricks, cement, and around doors and window frames of your home, shed, and other structures. Put a screened cover over your dryer exhaust event to keep snakes, birds, and mice out.

Snakes can climb to access these entry points. 

The home improvement store has putty, expanding foam, concrete mix, and weather stripping to do this. Sealing gaps will keep snakes (and rodents) from squeezing in. 

Pest control companies can also evaluate your home to see if there are any spots for them to get in.

6. Use Natural Deterrents

Snakes do not like certain strong odors. You can spray highly-concentrated plant oils and other substances or plant strong-smelling plants, around the areas you wish to keep snakes away from. 

If you spray, you will need to do so regularly, since rain and evaporation will eventually remove or weaken the odors.

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Try the following odors or plants:

  • Thyme
  • Citronella
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Neem
  • Pine
  • Cinnamon
  • Cedarwood
  • Clove
  • Vinegar
  • Marigold
  • Wormwood

Foxes are predators of snakes, and fox urine can be purchased and sprayed on properties.

There are commercial snake repellents that contain chemicals, as well as the use of ammonia in open plastic bags. However, these can also be harmful to people, pets, and the environment.

7. Fix Or Remove Wet Areas

Consider if you want to relocate, remedy, or eliminate wet areas that may invite snakes in:

  • Small koi pond (snakes may eat the fish as well as any frogs that are in the water)
  • Leaky hose or spout 
  • Thick brush around ponds 
  • Low areas of land with sitting water
  • A damp basement, garage, or shed with an access point (cracks, gaps, dryer vent, etc.)
  • Rain barrels
  • Birdbaths
  • Water fountain features
  • Swimming pools

If the body of water cannot be removed, make sure the grass is short around the perimeter, and use natural deterrents as mentioned above.

8. Install Snake-Proof Fencing

Fencing is often used for small problem areas since this is a costly option. 

Steel mesh or hardware cloth with a weave ¼-inch or smaller is effective at keeping snakes out. The fencing must be installed angled at 30 degrees outward and flush with the ground, 36 inches high and 4 to 6 inches deep into the ground.

9. Smoke Snakes Out

Use smoke (and fire) with supervision and extreme caution for outdoor use only, and away from flammable structures.

Dig a fire pit and allow it to smoke, creating an undesirable odor and atmosphere for the snakes.

10. Use Natural Predators

You can add some pets or farm animals to your property. Cats, turkeys, guinea hens, and pigs will eat snakes. Additionally, wild predators, such as foxes and raccoons will eat snakes.

However, keep in mind that the eggs of chickens and guinea hens may invite snakes in to take the risk of obtaining a tasty treat.

As mentioned above, spraying fox urine on your property can keep snakes away.

11. Wildlife Or Pest Control

If snakes are a problem, a wildlife or pest control company can assist homeowners. 

They can inspect your property for entry points or ideal habitats for the snakes, and help you to eliminate or prevent them from entering your property.

In Conclusion

If you are looking to deter snakes from your property and home, salt does not work. 

Instead, opt for pest control preventative measures such as trimming grasses and bushes, removing piles of debris and rocks, and reducing access to wet areas. 

Closing gaps and cracks on the walls, foundation, and other structures, as well as removing food sources that bring mice and birds to the home will help to keep snakes away. 

Wildlife or pest control can help with remediating problems on your property as well as removing snakes for relocation.

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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