How Did Cowboys Keep Snakes Away From Biting

In today’s modern era, most people have never seen a snake. The only way to find out about these fascinating creatures that slither across their front yards is to read about them online.

In the past, there were some instances where snakes could become deadly and sometimes even fatal. They often would put humans in danger of losing a limb or even dying from contracting an infection, disease, or from venomous snake bite.

Cowboys would sleep many times on the ground while traveling in the wild. Without anything to protect them from direct contact with snakes, they would often put a rope around them in the hopes snakes wouldn’t cross over. Nowadays we know it’s just a myth.

The best method a cowboy could use to avoid a snake bite was to stand still in the hopes the snake would go away. Snakes are afraid of large creatures, to them, they are predators and they are eager to go away from a human and vice versa.

Rattlesnake with the tail up to give a warning to anything nearby.
Closeup of a rattlesnake shaking the tail up giving a close warning.

How did the Cowboys keep rattlesnakes away?

A cowboy had little to no protection against rattlesnakes, but their leather boots could give them some sort of protection from snake bites up to a certain instance. The most obvious tactic was to not provoke the rattlesnake in the first instance, but when that happened accidentally, they would improvise with whatever they had at hand.

Do cowboy boots protect against snake bites?

The cowboy boots per se are not able to protect against snake bites, the leather in them is not thick enough to stop the snake fangs. However, the sole of the cowboy boots was impenetrable against snake bites. Unfortunately, most snake bites would happen around the calf area, which means if a snake attacked the shaft of a cowboy boot, it would for sure penetrate the leather.

Does putting a rope on the ground would keep snakes away from cowboys?

Back then, one of the most popular ways that cowboys used to keep snakes away was by putting a rope on the ground. The idea behind it is that snakes were afraid of anything that moves. Placing a rope on the ground will supposedly scare off any snakes in the vicinity.

While this may sound like it would be effective, there have been many reports of people still being bitten by snakes after doing this. So we know for a fact, that this is not effective.

What did they do for snake bites in the 1800s?

In the 1800s, snake bites were not uncommon. With horses being the primary mode of transportation, they were often bitten and so did people. Back then they did not have any of the medical resources that we have today to help them treat snake bites.

The best course of action was to amputate the limb in order to avoid any complications. The only problem is that it took an extremely skilled doctor to do this because leaving just a small part behind could result in becoming infected or even dying from a secondary infection.

What do snakes not like to crawl over?

In order to keep snakes out, you have to make them think twice about coming into your home. One way you can do this is by using certain types of materials on the ground that can make slithering very difficult for snakes, this includes:

  • Pines cones
  • Eggshells
  • Gravel
  • Holly leaves

You can also use some natural deterrents such as:

  • Wormwood
  • Lemongrass
  • Marigolds

Match these strategically with some snake repellent and the rates of snakes going away will increase drastically.

Know more: Can a snake survive with only half body?  🐍😲😲😲

What can chase snakes away?

There are a large number of natural deterrents that can keep snakes away, but you can use the wildlife surrounding you to do that successfully. There are common snake predators that will keep them distanced from your house, among these are:

  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Cats
  • Pigs
  • Guinea hens
  • Turkeys

If foxes are an indigenous species of your area, you can use their urine and spread it around your area, it will make a great natural snake deterrent.

What smell do snakes hate?

There are many scents that snakes hate such as:

  • Smoke
  • ammonia,
  • cloves,
  • cinnamon oil,
  • lime,
  • onions,
  • garlic,
  • white vinegar,
  • marigold,
  • lemongrass
  • and naphthalene.

You can use these single, combined, or even use oils that have these fragrances concentrated to a high level. You can also cultivate the plants that feature these scents and distribute them around your garden.

Do moth balls keep snakes away?

No, moth balls won’t keep snakes away. The only reason people say that is because the smell of mothballs can make snakes uncomfortable. Mothballs are not intended to be used for this purpose, they have little to no effect on snakes.

Will eucalyptus smoke keep snakes away?

No, eucalyptus smoke is not a snake repellent. It might keep them away from your house, but they will still be able to come in and out as they please.

What plant keeps snakes away?

A number of plants are said to be effective snake repellents. However, since some of these plants can be toxic to people, it is important that you test them in an area that you won’t be occupying or using. Also, keep in mind the presence of little children and pets.

Plants like Insanity herb, Sarpagandha, and Indian Snakeroot are known for their capacity of repelling snakes.

What attracts snakes to your house?

The most common way that snakes get near your home is because they are encroaching on their territory. You see, snakes like to live in predictable, secure spaces. They will protect their territory at all costs, including biting you or anyone else who enters it.

Besides, as your home attracts other animals looking for shelter or other resources, it will attract snakes as well, because they will come after them too. Things that are attracting snakes into your home might include:

  • Leaf piles
  • Dense shrubbery
  • Landscaping rocks
  • Gaps in your home’s foundation
  • Mice
  • And Birdbaths

Snakes will search in these places for food, water, and shelter.

Were cowboys right about scaring snakes?

Cowboys in the old west could not be the brightest at understanding why snakes would attack them, it was much easier for them to believe that rattlesnakes could be scared away by the sound of their voices and a swish of their quirt. But snakes, despite what some Western films and cowboy ballads might have us think, don’t particularly care about humans or horses.


Scaring snakes away can be a daunting task, but nowadays it’s very tangible due to the effective products we have in our marketplace. One thing is for sure, cowboys back then didn’t have any of these products to save their skin, but they sure had a hell of imagination creating myths and ways of keeping snakes away.