Can Growing This Minty Plant Send Snakes Slithering From Your Garden?

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Immediately recognizable by their sinister slithering movement, snakes are familiar to most gardeners; while they generally help to keep local ecosystems healthy by controlling rodent and pest populations, some may find their presence downright disturbing. If the mere sight of a snake makes your skin crawl, or you wish to repel snakes from your yard to provide a safe haven for common prey — such as chipmunks and nesting birds — you may be wondering if mint is capable of keeping snakes from crossing your property lines. A cursory Google search with the terms "snake," "mint plant," and "deterrent," will yield a plethora of conflicting results. While multiple blogs tout the efficacy of strategically placed mint plants, others decry this approach as entirely useless. What gives?

Snakes, like other animals, use their sense of smell to hunt prey. This begs the question: Are there smells that snakes find unpleasant, and if so, are they sufficient deterrents to keep snakes away? Generally speaking, snakes will go where there is food and shelter, whether it smells nice or not. Interestingly, and perhaps not coincidentally, the mint-as-snake-repellent theory may be due to a correlative rather than causative connection. Snakes commonly prey on rats, mice, and other small rodents — animals which dislike the compounds that give mint plants their strong scent. By planting mint in your yard, you may not be deterring the snakes themselves, but their prey, effectively discouraging the reptiles from sticking around any longer.

How to repel snakes ... and their prey

Testing out if mint plants will keep snakes from your garden by deterring rodent populations is easy enough. You will want to plant plenty of the herb to ensure a potent minty smell. Alternatively, you may wish to employ the use of essential oils for an easier process all around. Between 10 and 20 drops of pure peppermint essential oil per 1 cup of water is a solid ratio. Add these ingredients to a spray bottle and apply all around the perimeter of your yard. To give your hand a break, consider purchasing a continuous garden pump sprayer ($15.99 on Amazon at the time of writing). Complete this ritual as often as necessary until you see the desired results. Remember to use caution with essential oils; they can cause eye irritation. Pet owners should skip this remedy, as the oils can be dangerous if ingested or applied to the skin of dogs or cats.

Now is also an ideal time to make your yard as unattractive an environment as possible for slithering snakes. Tame your overgrown shrubs, grass, vines, brush, or leaf piles — all of which make ideal hiding places for snakes. Keep an eye on areas of your yard that collect standing water, as snakes and their prey alike are attracted to hydration sources. You will also want to inspect the perimeter of your home; chances are that any unblocked crawlspaces will be an invitation for snakes to seek shelter within.