Vibrating Snake Repellents: Do They Really Work?


Sometimes, people really don’t want to be around snakes. As such, the search for ways to repel snakes is equally ubiquitous with odor and vibration repellents top on the list of proposed effective snake repellents.

So, do vibrating snake repellents really work? There aren’t many scientific tests indicating that vibrations will keep snakes away. However, some users claim that the repellents work at first, but suggest that vibrations may only work until the reptile has become acquainted with them.

The “myth” about the ability of vibrations to deter snakes is probably founded on the long-standing belief that snakes do not hear but instead perceive sound through vibrations from the substrate 1.  

While it is not true that the snake is deaf, it is a fact that they do not have an external indication for an auditory system (meaning they can’t typically hear). But this should not be taken to imply that the snake does not perceive sound. Evidence confirms that this infamous reptile can effectively detect sound that travels through the air. 

This article will explore the use of vibrations to repel snakes. You will read details about the auditory system of the snake and be informed about possible ways to keep away snakes from your compound. Read on to separate facts from fables!

Vibrations and Sounds: How Snakes Hear

For a long time, knowledge of the snake’s ability to perceive vibrations had led scientists to suggest that snakes only hear by vibration. But more recent studies have confirmed that snakes are as perceptive of airborne sounds as they are of vibrations 2

A study set to establish the snake’s ability to perceive both vibrations and sound pressure using 11 royal pythons found that the same sensory cells detect both substrate vibration and airborne sounds in snakes 3. In addition, the snakes’ pronounced vibration sensitivity allows them to sense these vibrations at very low frequencies, which is what allows them to easily detect both prey and predators.

Because snakes can easily sense vibrations, you might think that the use of vibrating snake repellents would be highly effective. But, so far, nothing suggests that snakes run away from vibration, which brings us to a key question: do vibrating snake repellents really work?  

Do Vibrating Snake Repellents Really Work?  

A random search for vibrating snake repellents on online buying sites reveals plenty of these products. In addition, the products are all described as effective in keeping away snakes from your compound. Associated customer reviews also suggest that the products are effective in deterring snakes, and only a few communicate customer disappointment for inefficiency or short-lived efficiency.

Similarly, articles and blogs on open web sites propose that vibrating snake repellents are effective. However, scientific support for the effectiveness of vibrating snake repellents is altogether lacking.

Proposals like the one on the Africansnakebiteinstitute.com may seem more credible. According to this source, snakes may stay away from the origin of vibrations when they are new. But once the reptiles get acquainted with the vibrations, they will get over their confusion and keep visiting, and some may even start living near the vibrations. 

This is a very, very common thing not only in reptiles but animals of all kinds (even humans). More specifically, it’s a phenomenon called habituation where a creature gets used to a stimulus over a long period of time.

It’s also important to note that snakes do not seem to avoid places where high-vibration activities are going on. Snakes will sometimes be found at construction sites where there is noise and consistent drilling or banging. And snakes are often seen crossing roads or basking along busy highways 4. The vibrations on these roads are not only intense but also consistent, and yet they do not keep away snakes.

The resulting question from all this: Is there a proven effective way to keep snakes away. Not to say that the vibrating repellents don’t totally work, but there must be something with a little more proven validity, right?

How Else Can You Keep Snakes Away from Your Property?

We have already established that vibrating snake repellents may keep away snakes from your compound for a short period before the reptile gets habituated to the vibration. 

The effectiveness of odor snake repellents has also been questioned based on the argument that unlike humans, whose noses will burn when exposed to irritating odors, snakes use their forked tongues to smell, and these do not exactly get irritated with smells. 

A laboratory-based study in India tested the repellent capacity of several repellent formulations and a chemical Eugenol on four types of snakes and found one of the formulas to be effective in repelling snakes.

This result confirms that the smell of certain chemical formulations can repel snakes. These are readily available on large online retail sites and you can likely find them at local stores chain hardware and home stores.

One product that has a strong review backing online is the Ortho Snake B Gon Repellent. I’d recommend looking into this one for the start of your snake repelling search.

There are also two natural and non-chemical ways proposed for keeping away the ill-reputed snakes from your compound: keeping your yard clean and using a shade fence to block snakes.

Snakes are hiding reptiles. They spend most of their time under rocks and in holes and will only come out to the open to search for food or to take in some sun since they need the heat for digestion. 

Your yard can attract snakes if it has animals that snakes would consider prey or if the compound can provide hiding space for the snake. This is especially true of the cold winter season, which explains why snakes will sometimes be found in homes.

To keep snakes away from your home, keep your garden and the space surrounding your home clean. Piling rubble or rocks create favorable hiding and breeding spaces for reptiles. Asbestos, corrugated tin, and iron sheets are especially loved by snakes seeking a warm habitat. 

The presence of rodents and frogs around your home or in your garden is a perfect way to invite snakes to your compound. Having a water source or a stagnant water body can easily attract frogs, which in turn attract the hunting snake. This means that you have to think about repelling frogs and rodents before you can successfully keep off the serpents.

If you live in snake-dense areas, adding a shade cloth to your perimeter fence is an additional way of deterring snakes. The shade cloth should be planted to the ground at least 1 ft deep and be at least 1 meter (3.2 feet) high. It will be ages before a snake decides to burrow below or climb over a meter of shade cloth to come to your compound. 

So, What is The Best Snake Repellent is For You?

Vibrating snake repellents are often marketed as effective solutions for keeping away snakes from your compound. However, there is a lack of readily available scientific tests to confirm this proposition.

The assumption around the efficiency of vibrating snake repellents is built on the fact that these reptiles have a pronounced sensitivity to vibrations which they utilize to detect prey and predators.

While there is a lack of scientific evidence, there are strong reviews online stating the effectiveness of these products. I’d recommend looking into all of your options as BEST as you can, keeping in mind the lack of scientific evidence you can find to support the products.

A snake’s sensitivity to vibration does not imply that they detest it. In fact, snakes are known to frequent or even live inside holes or under rocks in areas where there are consistent and intense vibrations.

Maybe, just maybe, they like the vibrations.

Snakes may, however, stay away from unfamiliar vibrations until they are habituated to the sound and slither back towards it.

The inconclusive suggestion that vibrating snake repellents are efficient leaves room to consider other snake repelling options such as odor-based repellents, keeping your home and compound clear of rumble where snakes can hide and repelling rodents and frogs which attract snakes as prey. Adding shade cloth to your perimeter wall should also keep away snakes to a greater extent. 

References

  1. Hartline, P. H. (1971). Physiological basis for detection of sound and vibration in snakes. Journal of Experimental Biology54(2), 349-371.
  2. Young, B. A. (2003). Snake bioacoustics: toward a richer understanding of the behavioral ecology of snakes. The Quarterly Review of Biology78(3), 303-325.
  3. Christensen, C. B., Christensen-Dalsgaard, J., Brandt, C., & Madsen, P. T. (2012). Hearing with an atympanic ear: good vibration and poor sound-pressure detection in the royal python, Python regius. Journal of Experimental Biology215(2), 331-342.
  4. Andrews, K. M., & Gibbons, J. W. (2005). How do highways influence snake movement? Behavioral responses to roads and vehicles. Copeia2005(4), 772-782.

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