My father killed a 44 inch rattlesnake in his back yard this past weekend after finding his cat and the snake in an intense duel. While I do not necessarily agree with killing wildlife (just a personal preference) I do agree with killing things in and around your home that could possibly cause harm when provoked and the last time I checked rattlesnakes can do just that. With that being said, I also have three young sisters running around that yard so hats off to my dad for getting rid of this guy.
After thinking about this for a while, and seeing the pictures my dad sent, I cannot help but think there might be some natural ways of detering snakes from your yard. I found some useful information about natural snakes repellents and I also found some articles promoting moth balls as a natural remedy.
Moth balls are made from two components, naphthalene and paradichlorobenzine, both of which evaporate into our atmosphere. Naphthalene is broken down by the sun and various bacteria when exposed to the outside elements thus rendering it useless and toxic (what a waste). Paradichlorobenzine is hazardous to acquatic life and can accumulate in fish, like mercury. Both components are hazardous to almost everything especially pets and young children who might get into them.
It is also illegal to use mothballs outdoors. The use of anything of this manner for anything other than the proper uses stated on the packaging is a violation of federal law, as well as many state laws.
My advice: don't use them in or around your home, instead you should rely on a more natural approach.
Herbs are amazing for your health, are beautiful in your garden, and smell wonderful. In doing research online I also found some people who think that herbs can deter snakes. These include: wormwood, rosemary, marigold, bay, comfey, and garlic.
Bay leaves are also amazing in your home. All you need to do it get some fresh leaves and throw them behind toilets, in cabinets, and under furniture. You won't smell them but insects and rodents hate the smell. You will need to replace the leaves with fresh ones every month or so.
If you really want to be green and protect the exterior of your home mix crushed garlic cloves with water and spray once a month. You can use the large spray containers that are usually used when spraying chemicals, but instead of buying the chemicals just crush up 5-7 garlic cloves and add water. I would also let the mixture sit for about an hour and mix occassionally so the water can absorb the garlic.
This deters snakes, bugs, and some rodents. You will also reduce your environmental impact, save money, and reduce your families exposure to toxic chemicals!
Clear Your Yard
Snakes love tall grass, messy hedges, stacks of lumber, and any other area around your home that they could easily hide. Be sure to keep the areas around your home neat and trimmed to discourage their intrusion.
Clove and Cinnamon Spray
Like the garlic spray above cloves and cinnamon are great deterents. Simply mix equal parts of clove oil and cinnamon oil in a spray bottle (you can add some water, but it needs to be strong). Spray this around your home's walkways and around the edge of your yard. I suggest doing this once a month or after a heavy rain, but some sources say every 2-3.
Have A Good Storage System
A good storage system for dog food, cat food, bird seed, etc. is highly advised. Mice and other rodents love to get into these things and the snakes around your home are most likely looking for small rodents.
You can also set out mice traps, I like the old fashioned ones because they do not use chemicals and are very effective. I know I said I don't agree with killing wildlife, but mice reproduce fast, get into food, and have diseases (carried by fleas) that could harm your pets or even your family.
Tighten Up Your Home
I have read that most snakes within 100 feet of your home are also within 25-50 feet of their home. Snakes like dark, secure, and damp areas to nest so be sure to block areas like under decks, porches, and basements.
*I also suggest having some knowledge about the different types of snakes in your area. There are some good snakes that you might want to keep around!
Here is the snake my dad killed