Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes. For some backpackers, this can mean the avoidance of some areas for prime backpacking, like the Everglades. Fear not, as Sweeney’s has produced Snake Repellent, that may help settle a camper’s mind.
Call me crazy, but I love snakes! Yet I’ve always wondered about products like this, which claim to “emit a sweet, pungent aroma that snakes find distasteful, causing them to leave the area.” For this experiment, I caught 9 in my yard in Sparta, NC.
The test: I laid out a half circle of snake repellent (as per directions) and observed if the snakes went over the treated area. Three times out of 4, one of the northern water snakes avoided the treated area. Some of the other snakes did not…
…and one ringneck snake even camped on the treated area for 5 minutes. I also treated around a tent and let various ground dwelling snakes go in the area. Out of the 6 ringneck snakes, 4 promptly ignored the repellent and went underneath the tent.
This stuff reeks like a mummy’s gym bag! It is safe to use around kids and pets, but it will probably repel them, as the sulfur, clove, and other natural oils make it a foul-smelling concoction. It may help snake haters sleep better but I think it stinks.
BUT editor Shannon Davis uses it as potpourri. “I think it smells great and invigorating but if you spill too much on the floor, people tend to crinkle their nose and ask ‘what’s that smell?’… But I figure these people must be somewhat reptilian.”
Sweeney’s Snake Repellent
2 lb. bottle $13
4 lb. bag $18
Photos & Text by Joe Flowers