Will Planting Basil Really Repel Snakes From Your Yard? Our Scientist Weighs In

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Though Dr. Charles van Rees explained to House Digest that there have been a few studies that showed snakes avoiding areas with strong natural scents, they didn’t provide the full picture of how the animals would respond in the wild. “…even in a very controlled environment, [the researchers] simply tested where snakes spent their time (in smelly versus non-smelly areas, with and without the plant or plant chemical). This captures only half of the equation – another part of deterrence is the motivation of the snake itself.”

Snakes are often drawn to yards because they provide access to water, food, and shelter. If these resources are present on your property, snakes are more likely to stick around, even if there’s a strong scent of basil in the air. “As with coffee grounds keeping lizards away, this is the sort of solution that pest control gurus will be quick to push on people, but it is not supported by any evidence,” Dr. van Rees said. Though it is not a proven repellent, Dr. van Rees suggests that people could try the hack for themselves by planting basil where snakes are spotted and watching to see if it changes the animal’s behavior.

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