Do you also fear the encounter with an unwanted crawling friend when you enter your tent?
You are no special, 64% of Americans do, according to a survey by YouGov.
Wait! Relax! This does not mean you are Ophidiophobic. The fear of snakes shouldn’t be the reason which is holding you back from enjoying the surreal experience of camping and soaking in the views of fascinating landscapes.
You just need the right way to avoid and encounter our venomous friends.
There are a total of 50 species of snakes found in America, but not all are venomous or life-threatening. Rattlesnake, copperhead, cottonmouths/water moccasins, and coral snakes are counted in the list of most venomous.
Fun fact: There are snakes present in all the continents of the World, except Antarctica.
Surprisingly camping is possible in Antarctica. No snakes! But you might have to deal with penguin friends there. We will leave that discussion for some other day.
In this article, we have got you covered with How To Keep Snakes Away From My Campsite? What to do if you encounter a snake? Places to go camping where there is less threat of snakes?
Let get started! Shall we?
How To Keep Snakes Away From The Campsite?
When it comes to snakes there is one ground rule to keep in mind
That is why panicking when you do see a snake will do you more harm.
Always be prepared to meet one of our unwanted friends when you go camping out in nature because we are the ones entering their habitat.
That is why here are all the precautions you should take to stop them to come and visit you.
1. Choose The Right Place To Set Camp
The decision of where to set your camp is the decision to mull over. Set your camp in an open, and plane terrain away from all the possible hiding spots of snakes. Snakes tend to hide in dark places and that is having your tent in an open space will prevent them to some extend.
These are some of the hiding spots for snakes that you should be careful of while setting camp. Look for these spots and avoid setting camp near them.
- Areas with heavy grass– Snakes camouflage themselves in the heavy and tall bushes and you might end up stepping on one of these without noticing. Areas with short grass are preferred, they will never be found sitting in the short grass areas as it is dangerous for them as well, and it is easy to spot them in short grass or no grass areas.
- Near fallen trees or logs– These are some of the favorite spots because these are home to insects and bugs(prey for snakes). Some snakes also lay their eggs under the logs. Never set camp near piles of logs or near fallen trees, this will make it easy for snakes to slither into our tents.
- Near rock piles or outcrops– Many species tend to use rocks as a shield to prevent predators or weather, as places to grow younger ones or basking. Look for these spots and do not set camp anywhere near these.
- Areas that are adjacent to water sources– Species like water moccasins tend to live near and in the freshwater bodies. Other species can survive in saltwater as well. Do not set your camp near water bodies, make sure to maintain a safe distance from the water bodies.
2. Know Your Campsite
Research and study about your Campsite help to know about the species and habitats you are going to encounter.
Knowing where you are headed and what kind of snakes you will encounter will help you to pack smartly and to take proper precautions.
Not all species of snakes are venomous, researching beforehand will help you in packing appropriate first aid and how much time you have before you can get medical help.
Leaving prepared for camping is essential because as they say better safe than sorry.
3. Check Your Camp For Holes
Damaged camps can be a major rumpus as it provides an easy way for insects and reptiles to enter your sleeping area. Checking the camp before leaving will save you from the job of panic after.
Carrying a repair kit with you will help in case of emergencies. Snakes tend to hide in shades, so don’t forget to check under your tent. You don’t want to step on them and get a snake bite as snakes are capable of biting through the tent.
4. Check Your Sleeping Area And Tent Before Entering
Staying alert always is the way to go as our unwanted friends do not come with a warning.
Get into the habit of shaking your sleeping bag, scanning your tent thoroughly before you enter it.
Always keep your tent completely zipped when not in use, even if you go away in close proximity from the tent, as it does not take long for them to slither in.
Boots are another hiding spot for the snake as your smell of feet can attract them.
Checking your boot before entering into them and stuffing it with socks when not in use will prevent your close encounter with snakes.
5. Dress Appropriately For Camp
Most of the snake bites outdoors will occur at the ankles, hands, and lower parts of the body. Wearing the right boots, thick fabrics and long sleeves will prevent you from snake bites and its venom.
Wearing boots is proven to be more effective in preventing snakes and reptiles as compared to flip-flops and sandals because it creates comparatively heavy ground vibrations.
Vibrations help the reptiles to know our presence and vacate the area and prevent danger for them and us as well.
6. Keep Your Food Away From Your Tent
Let’s get these straight snakes are not attracted to human food, then why do we need to keep our food away from my tent? Snakes might be visiting our food for their prey like mice and birds and insects which are attracted to our food.
Here are some precaution measures :
- Always store your food at a secure place in airtight containers for coolers in an elevated area.
- Carry extra grocery bags to store trash unless you find a way to dispose of them. Do not leave your trash open and near your tent to attract the insects and pests that will eventually attract snakes.
- Never leave the bits or ‘baits’ of food lying around near your campfire or tent.
7. Cook Away From The Tent
Cooking your food at least 200 meters away from the sleeping area will help you prevent even the accidental food baits lying around your tents.
Snakes are very sensitive to smell, they can sense their prey by smell. Avoid having fish in your meals while camping because fish is prey for amphibian species of snakes.
8. Campfire Will Keep Them Away
Snakes tend to avoid places with light and less hiding space. Campfire is proven to keep away the insects and snakes as well.
If you still encounter a snake passing by do not panic and stay calm it will not attack you unless it feels a thread.
Be cautious while collecting woods for a campfire as snakes camouflage themselves in the sticks. Also, check under the woods you stored for a campfire before preparing, they might be resting there.
9. Spraying Ammonia Works
Snakes hate the smell of ammonia, cinnamon oil, or clove oil. Using sprays containing Ammonia cinnamon oil or clove oil will keep your tent area and cooking areas safe from snakes.
Markets are full of snake repellents used while camping, but it has been proven that they do not work and only give you a false sense of protection.
If you do not have a spray of ammonia you can dip a cloth in liquid Ammonia and keep it uncovered near your tent or camping site.
Other than that human urine also works as it contains Ammonia but in less amount but not as effective as liquid ammonia.
Fun fact: Snakes smell through their tongues.
10. Personal Hygiene Plays A Crucial Role
Since the smell of insects and small birds attract snakes. Avoiding them will help us in avoiding snakes. Take a small shower if possible to avoid the insect that gets attracted to your sweat.
Avoid using perfume and scented soaps and hand wash while camping as it attracts the birds and insects. There are various non-scented products available in the market for camping especially.
Avoid being sweaty for too long. It attracts insects towards you and insects attract snakes.
Using insect repellent would help eventually.
11. Pets Scare Them Away
If a snake sense you or any other Predator in its area it tends to vacate the space. Our furry friends are comparatively larger in size and noisy that will scared the snakes away from the Campsite.
They can sense the smell of dogs and cats and tend to hide in a safe place to avoid getting killed by them. Your pets make your camping experience ten folds more fun.
Check out some articles on how to enjoy camping with pets on campinghunt.com.
What To Do If You Do Encounter Snakes
Get mentally prepared to meet one or the other wildlife when you go outdoor camping if not in your tent then maybe near your Campsite just wandering or traveling.
What should you do? Try to kill them to ensure your safety? Straight answer to this would be NO.
If you went camping in a national park and somehow killed a snake that might get you into serious trouble of harming nature wildlife.
Even you are a professional in handling snakes you should not harm them in any way and instead find a way to get them away from the site.
Key points to remember if you encounter a snake while camping:
- If you find them in your tent or sleeping bag or shoes try to make random loud noises and storm on the ground that will stress them and they will leave the space as soon as possible.
- Do not provoke the snake by poking or getting very close to it this will give them a life thread and they will attack you for their defense.
- If you see a snake passing by just freeze and observe there is a chance they might not have sensed you. Do not run or attack they seek fast movement as dangerous and slow movements as less threatening.
- Do not corner a snake as it gives them panic if they see there is no way out. If you already found them cornered slowly move backward and give them the way out to vacate the area.
- Do not try to fight the snake as their flexes are much quicker and faster than humans. You might end up getting a snake bite.
- If a snake seems still or dead, that does not mean you can poke them. Some species use this tactic to catch their prey and attack very quickly when they come near. Dead snakes are also dangerous as they still have the bite reflexes in their muscles and venom in their fangs.
- Treat all snakes with caution. Tiny snakes are proven to be more dangerous. They can hide without getting noticed and can sense you as a danger.
Note: Always carry a first aid kit with you and immobilization bandages in case of an emergency like Snakebite.
How To Handle A Snake Bite. Step By Step Guide
- Call an ambulance as soon as possible. Treat every snakebite as dangerous even if the snake was not venomous.
- Don’t panic and don’t move. Try to stay still and calm.
- Leave the snake alone as if the snake feels threatened again it can attack again.
- Apply a pressure immobilization bandage and splint.
- Don’t wash, cut, or suck the wound.
- Keep the area of the bite below the heart level to prevent the venom from spreading.
- Remove any type of jewelry for clothing that might lead to swelling.
Frequently Asked Questions
I hope this article gave you enough courage to tackle the encounter with snakes and to avoid their encounters as much as possible.
I would not prefer you to try the human urine trick to keep away the snakes as it would create a very stinky environment around your Campsite.
If you want to reduce your encounter with venomous snakes you might ponder upon camping in the north side of America as most of the venomous snakes are found in Texas, California, New Mexico and, Arizona. More in South than North.
Fun fact: There are three countries in this world where they have zero snakes namely New Zealand, Ireland, and Iceland
Comment your stories if you have encountered a snake while camping and if any of these ways helped you. We would love to hear your stories.
Until then happy camping!