Is your campsite inundated with our legless friends? No, we don’t mean pirates, we’re talking snakes. Snakes are one of nature’s marvels and they have every right to roam their own habitat without humans bothering them. But while one of the joys of camping is getting close to nature, we don’t really want a reptilian encounter just as we’re getting into the third verse of ‘Kumbaya’.
If you’re planning a camping trip but want to keep those beautiful but potentially dangerous reptiles away from your tent then we’re here to help you. We want you to get away from it all while keeping snakes away from your campsite.
Here’s Four Top Tips to Keep your Tent Snake-free:
It may seem obvious but choosing a location with a smaller snake population will minimize the risk of an encounter.
If you’re a snake enthusiast, feel free to pitch your tent in southern Florida where there is a thriving python population. But if you’d like to avoid being constricted while you sleep, maybe camp in areas such as the gorgeous shores of Maine. For a completely snake-free state you’ll have to jet off to Alaska – just make sure you pack your thermals.
We also have to remember that many popular states for camping, such New Hampshire and Idaho, not only have relatively low snake populations but very few are venomous. Nevertheless, even non-venomous snakes can be intimidating especially if you’re camping with kids and pets.
Snakes by State
The easiest way to check whether your intended camping area is a nest of vipers is doing some simple online research. There’s a great site here that gives information on snake populations state-by-state and might be a useful tool for picking your vacation destination.
This the season
When considering a location for your camping trip remember to think about the season. Snakes are cold-blooded so they prefer warmer climates and temperatures. If you want to camp in areas with a higher snake population, consider going in the cooler months of the year. This way snakes are more likely to be dormant.
It may surprise you, but Snakes are not waiting for us to pitch-up just so they can pounce on us. It’s a sad fact that we are much more of a threat to them that they are to us. For this reason, it’s best to keep both us and snakes happy by avoiding an encounter entirely.
Pitching your tent in a place where snakes are less likely to reside is another sure-fire way of keeping the peace. Snakes have their own predators so prefer hidden places. They’ll find protection in rock or wood piles, outcrops of earth or stone, and piles of fallen leaves. If you avoid pitching your tent in these areas or make sure you don’t pile things on your site, you’ll minimize the risk.
A Clear Pitch
Camp in areas where there are fewer bushes, too, or clear an area of undergrowth or shrub. Snakes prefer this kind of habitat so some clearance, without too much disturbance, might be a good tactic. It helps that by clearing your site you have better visibility if a snake does stray too close.
Snakes also need a water source so can be stumbled upon near the water’s edge. Either make sure your camp site is slightly removed from the close proximity to water or be vigilant as you move around your lake or river-side campsite.
3. Keep it Clean
Just like keeping animals away from your pantry at home, making sure that food stores are clean and sealed is a must for a snake-free camp site. Air-tight containers will minimize any smells that might attract snakes or their prey. Snakes have a highly sensitive smell sensor called Jacobson’s organ. This makes it imperative that campers don’t inadvertently lure in animals by being careless with their food cache.
Snakes are unlikely to be interested in your breakfast burrito. But what they will be drooling over are the mice that are tucking into your discarded leftovers. If food is left lying around in the open, you’re almost guaranteed to attract rodents and that’s the kind of snack a snake is unlikely to pass up. Wrap unwanted food in air-tight containers and dispose of waste as regularly, safely, and as far away from your campsite as possible.
It’s not just snakes that can be deterred by prioritizing hygiene. If you camp in areas where there are other threats to your well-being, we’re talking bears and venomous spiders, being a clean-freak on your site is a good thing. Bears love an easy meal and poisonous spiders will also be attracted to the pests that feed on your food waste. Experiencing wildlife is wonderful but we don’t want to make that encounter with our furry friends more of a threat. Keeping your camping area a clean and smell-free zone is wildlife win.
4. Light That Campfire
Every image of the perfect camping trip surely contains a cozy campfire. One of the perks of going wild is getting back to the way our ancestors lived. Wherever our camp is located, that rosy campfire glow is a campsite given but we don’t want to share our toasted marshmallows with the local snake population. Snakes are active at night and the smoke and warmth of the fire will deter them.
Sing Loud and Proud
If you’re cozied up around the fire and Uncle Pete wants to sing American Pie for the fifth time, don’t stop him. You may have tired of the tune a “long, long time ago” but snakes actively hate it. They don’t hate Don McLean or your Uncle Pete, they just hate noise. Snakes are afraid of humans and they are more likely to scurry away from a noisy campsite that seek it out. So sing up, Pete, we want to hear that tune again.
In cities snakes are kept as pets. In the wilderness, you’re in their territory. We want a harmonious experience with nature and we want to protect it for future generations. For this reason, we must respect nature not destroy it. We all know the devastation to wildlife that fires can cause so making sure our fires are contained and well managed is important. We want to keep snakes at bay not destroy our native species.
Following these tips will help make sure that when you take to your sleeping-bag you’re not snuggling up with a snake.