Outdoor PestsSnakes

What Smell Do Garter Snakes Hate?

Snakes 3

Garter snakes are common creatures that you might encounter in your backyard or garden. While they are generally harmless, their presence can still be unsettling for some. If you’re looking for ways to keep these creatures at bay, one effective method is to exploit their aversion to certain smells. So, what smell do garter snakes hate? Let’s dive into this topic and explore the various scents that can deter these reptiles.


Garter snakes hate strong, overpowering smells. Some of these include the scents of mint (including peppermint), citrus fruits (like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits), garlic, onions, cinnamon, clove, vinegar, smoke, marigold, and mothballs. These smells can be used effectively to deter garter snakes from your property.

Understanding Garter Snakes’ Sense of Smell

Garter snakes perceive smells using their tongues, which they flick to pick up scent chemicals in the air. These chemicals are then inserted into the Jacobson’s organ located on the roof of their mouth, where the information is sent to the brain and decoded. When garter snakes encounter smells they dislike, they may react by increasing their tongue-flick rates. In some cases, garter snakes may secrete a musky, foul-smelling substance as a defense mechanism to make themselves less appetizing to potential predators. This musk is particularly effective at deterring predators, as it has an extremely unpleasant odor.

Smells That Garter Snakes Hate

Garter snakes, like many other snake species, are known to dislike strong, overpowering smells. Several scents have been identified as effective deterrents, including:

  • Mint: Garter snakes are known to dislike the strong smell of mint, including peppermint.
  • Citrus: Citrus scents, such as those from lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, are known to repel snakes due to a chemical called limonene.
  • Garlic and Onion: These two popular kitchen foods are excellent snake deterrents because of their overpowering smells.
  • Cinnamon and Clove: These common spices are known to repel snakes due to their strong scents.
  • Vinegar: The acidic content in vinegar is key to being bothersome to snakes.
  • Smoke: Smoke is another excellent snake-repelling scent, and any strong smell of it will keep snakes away.
  • Marigold: The strong odor that marigold plants give off repels snakes.
  • Mothballs: The chemical in mothballs, naphthalene, has shown some repellent tendencies for snakes.

Using Smells to Deter Garter Snakes

There are several ways you can use these smells to deter garter snakes from your property:

  • Plant snake-repelling plants: Certain plants are known to repel snakes due to their strong odors. These include marigolds, mugwort, garlic, onions, and plants from the mint family such as peppermint. Plant these around your home or garden to deter snakes.
  • Use essential oils: Essential oils derived from plants that snakes dislike can also be effective. Peppermint, clove basil, and cinnamon are among the most effective. You can spray these oils around your home, especially in areas where you’ve noticed snake activity.
  • Use vinegar and lime: Snakes are sensitive to acidic substances, so vinegar and lime can be effective deterrents. You can pour or spray vinegar on the ground in places snakes regularly visit, or places you don’t want them to venture. Lime powder or lime essential oils can also be sprinkled or sprayed around your yard.
  • Use garlic and onions: These kitchen staples are excellent snake deterrents due to their overpowering smells. You can plant them in your garden or chop them up and sprinkle them around areas where you want to deter snakes.

Remember, these methods are not guaranteed to work 100% of the time, as snakes are highly adaptable creatures. However, they can help make your property less attractive to snakes. Always ensure that any methods you use are safe for other wildlife, pets, and humans in your area. If you have a persistent problem with snakes, consider contacting a professional pest control service for assistance.


While the presence of garter snakes in your yard or garden can be unsettling, it’s important to remember that they play a crucial role in the ecosystem by controlling pest populations. However, if you’re uncomfortable with their presence, using scents that they dislike can be an effective way to deter them. By understanding what smells garter snakes hate and how to use these smells to your advantage, you can keep these creatures at bay while also ensuring the safety and well-being of your household.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are garter snakes harmful or poisonous?

No, garter snakes are not harmful or poisonous. They are non-venomous and pose little to no threat to humans. They may bite if they feel threatened, but their bites are not dangerous.

Can I use commercial snake repellents instead of natural remedies?

Yes, commercial snake repellents are available and can be used if you prefer them over natural remedies. They often contain some of the same scents that snakes dislike, such as naphthalene or sulfur. However, they can be harmful to other wildlife, pets, and humans, so use them with caution.

Do garter snakes only come out at a certain time of day?

Garter snakes are diurnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the day. However, in hot weather, they may become more active during the cooler hours of the morning and evening.

What should I do if I find a garter snake in my house?

If you find a garter snake in your house, the best course of action is to leave it alone and call a professional pest control service. They will be able to safely remove the snake without harming it.

Can garter snakes climb trees or walls?

Yes, garter snakes are excellent climbers and can climb trees, walls, and fences. However, they are more commonly found on the ground, where they hunt for their prey.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *