Does Diesel Keep Snakes Away? 8 Effective Snake Repellents

Written by Thomas Godwin
Updated: July 31, 2023
© Jay Ondreicka/
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8 Effective Snake Repellents
These eight methods can help to keep snakes out of your yard.

Unless a snake is swimming in diesel fuel, ingesting it, inhaling it, or absorbing it in any way, there is nothing about diesel that makes it an effective snake-repellent. It’s one of those fallacies that persist through the years and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

The reason is simple—there is zero evidence that diesel works to repel a snake, or has ever worked. Though ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise absorbing it may be harmful to a snake, there is no evidence for that either.

Understandably, people would want an effective snake repellent, especially if they become a nuisance, is a physical threat, or are stealing into your garden. However, even if diesel worked, the mess and the environmental hazard that dumping it on the ground would make are simply not worth the effort.

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Proven Effective Snake Repellents

Nerodia erythrogaster - Plain-bellied watersnake
There is zero evidence that diesel works to repel a snake, or has ever worked.

©Tyler Albertson/

Fortunately, you don’t have to reach for a can of diesel to get rid of snakes. There are many solutions available that are both effective and don’t require you to dump diesel out of the container. These measures include mostly natural means, but some physical ones as well, including proper choice of plants.

1. Plants

Orange yellow French marigold or Tagetes patula flower on a blurred garden background.Marigolds.
Marigolds repel animals that are snakes’ prey.


There are a variety of plants that will naturally keep a snake away. Having some of these plants around is hugely beneficial if you have a garden, whether it’s flowers or you are growing fruits and vegetables. Not only will some of these plants keep snakes away, but some of them are also natural insect repellents.

  • Lemongrass: Best grown in climate zones between 9 and 11, lemongrass produces a citrus fragrance that’s an effective snake repellent.
  • Garlic: Gives you the best of both worlds with your own, homegrown garlic, and snakes abhor the fragrance the sulfonic acid from garlic emits.
  • Marigolds: The roots of the Marigold plant emit an odor that snakes hate and will avoid if possible.
  • Allium: Like garlic, allium produces sulfonic acid, which has a powerful, repelling odor.
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue: Ironically, this plant is also known as the “snake plant” and it is visual aesthetic disturbs and spooks snakes.
  • Wormwood: The wormwood plant emits a strong, astringent odor that repels snakes.
  • Holly: Not only is Holly a naturally pleasing plant (from a visual perspective), but it also creates ground that snakes hate to slither across.
  • Basil: Basil is excellent for recipe spices and the smell will drive away a serpent
  • Snakeroot: Another effective snake repellent ironically associated with the same term, snakeroot drives snakes away with the chemicals reserpine and tremetol.
  • Yellow Alder: There’s no real reason this plant is an effective snake repellent, however, it works.
  • Pink Agapanthus: Not only is it a pretty flower to add to your garden, but it also has a strong, snake-repelling aroma.

Whether you live in the north, west, south, or east, you’ll have a few choices from each of these plants. Some of the more heat-preferring plants may need to come inside for the winter. However, that works out perfectly since snakes are decidedly non-winter creatures.

2. Cedarwood

Mulching the garden with red cedar wood chip
Cedar mulch smells pleasant to humans and is offensive to snakes.
mage: OzCameraman, Shutterstock


This is one of the simpler, more affordable, and naturally effective snake repellents around. You can purchase huge bags of cedar mulch from Walmart, local feed and seeds, and local gardening businesses for anywhere between $10 and $15.

Whether you want to use it in your garden or just sprinkle it around the lawn, the powerful aroma is not unpleasant to humans. Snakes are another story entirely. They hate it and will naturally gravitate away from cedar.

You can even pick up bags of cedar sawdust and sprinkle it wherever it will hold up best. Place the sawdust in a spreader and work it around the house, covering more territory.

3. Ammonia

Ammonia. Ammonia hazardous chemical in laboratory packaging
Ammonia can’t be sprayed on plants – but can be applied to the edge of porches and decks.


The only kind of ammonia that you can readily and easily deploy is the kind you can spray. Windex has a high enough amount of ammonia that it’s worth using. However, keep in mind that these are household chemicals and not something you should spray on plants, trees, or vegetation. Not only is it not good for the environment, it’s also detrimental to plants.

The best way to use ammonia sprays is to apply it to the edge of porches, decks, fencing, or other, synthetic structures that aren’t living things. Outside of that, the biggest drawback to ammonia sprays is the redundant and routine application.

The ammonia smell will hang out for a few days but it should be reapplied every few days. If it rains, you’ll need to reapply once the rain clears out.

4. Mothballs

Naphthalene mothballs on yellow backgrond.
Mothballs are also an effective snake repellent.

©Bowonpat Sakaew/

They are an age-old method for removing and keeping moths out of your clothes. If you ever visited with Grandma and Grandpa when you were a kid, you probably ran into a mothball or two at some point. Mothballs are also an effective snake repellent.

Snakes have powerful senses of smell and mothballs are almost violently repulsive to them. The only problem is how to apply them. It’s a simple thing to apply them indoors to keep snakes from getting inside. When it comes to the outside, however, you’ll have to get a little bit creative.

5. Ultrasonic Devices

Ultrasonic, solar-powered mole repellent or repeller device in the soil in a vegetable bed with small green pea sprouts in bacground. Device with beeping keep out pests
Solar-powered ultrasonic devices work for moles and snakes.
Image: Kristine Rad, Shutterstock

©Kristine Rad/

This is a relatively new kid on the block where effective snake repellents are concerned. There are a number of these devices on the market and many of them fit right into your garden without disrupting the aesthetic value of your yard and plants.

These devices are affordable, you can buy a lot of them at once, and they are easy to install and operate anywhere on the exterior or interior of your home.

6. Using Natural Animal Defense

Action scene from the forest with owl. Flying Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa, above green spruce tree with dark forest in background.
You can attract birds that prey on snakes to your yard by providing large owl nesting houses.

©Ondrej Prosicky/

We’re not referring to your favorite dog or your house cat and we’re not suggesting you go out and bring home a ferret as a pet. Pets are wonderful and as close a family member in our lives as our human counterparts. We don’t want to risk them.

However, what you can do is give the natural predators of snakes a reason to hang out in your neck of the woods. Install large birdhouses and bat houses. The idea is to draw the interest of birds and bats large enough to make snakes a natural part of their prey menu.

Owls are ideal for this and so are bats. Both are easier to lure in and make a home in your yard than a hawk or an eagle. If you want to attract owls and bats, you have to make your yard and surrounding area look as natural as possible, with plenty of plants and very large birdhouses for an owl to nest in.

You can build your own bat house or purchase one, whichever floats your boat. You can even choose to build a bat house out of cedar wood, which will work as an effective snake repellent.

7. Peppermint and Cinnamon Essential Oils

Peppermint essential oil is another snake repellant.


Essential oils are known for their potent aromas. This is especially true with peppermint and cinnamon essential oils. Not only are they powerful, but snakes also hate them. Since snakes have a powerful sense of smell, peppermint and cinnamon aromas are often too much for them.

Be careful not to spread essential oils on plants or other vegetation. The oils are powerful and will often be enough to kill the plants. Only spray essential oils on synthetic objects and reapply every few days. If it rains, reapply as soon as the surfaces are dry.

8. Epsom Salts

epsom salt in a hand with gloves
Epsom salts have a strong aroma that snakes can’t stand.
Image: Martina Unbehauen, Shutterstock

©Martina Unbehauen/

Epsom salts have a lot of uses, especially as an effective snake repellent. They have a strong odor plus the salts are uncomfortable for snakes when they slither over them. Like any of the above liquid applications, Epsom salts won’t last long, especially after a decent rain.

Reapply every few days and soon after a storm to keep the Epsom salts at optimal efficiency. Snakes will be sure to steer well clear of the powerful aroma.

Final Thoughts on Effective Snake Repellents

Diesel fuel is great for driving and for generators but it’s not great for repelling snakes. The best snake deterrents are the ones listed above. They are far more likely to repel snakes without being as harmful to the environment and creating noxious fumes which fail to irritate anything other than people.

As you can see, from the above examples, the most effective snake repellents are often things with powerful, citrus-like smells or ultrasonic soundwaves. Snakes are also repulsed by unnatural surfaces and the visual effect of the mother-in-law’s tongue. Sometimes, the best offense is a natural defense.

Summary Of 8 Effective Snake Repellents

RankSnake Repellent
5Ultrasonic Devices
6Using Natural Animal Defense
7Peppermint and Cinnamon Essential Oils
8Epsom Salts
Summary Table Of 8 Effective Snake Repellents

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About the Author

Thomas is a freelance writer with an affinity for the great outdoors and Doberman Pinschers. When he's not sitting behind the computer, pounding out stories on black bears and reindeer, he's spending time with his family, two Dobermans (Ares and Athena), and a Ragdoll cat named Heimdal. He also tends his Appleyard Ducks and a variety of overly curious and occasionally vexatious chickens.

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