Occasionally, our orange tree attracts both squirrels and ground squirrels. Unfortunately, they can be a bit of a nuisance and leave us with little to no fruit. While thinking of natural solutions, we discovered some evidence of snakes around our garden. So, are snakes attracted to our citrus trees because of the rodents, or is there another reason? We did some research to find out.
Snakes are attracted to citrus trees because of citrus-eating rodents. Rodents and snakes can especially be a problem for larger citrus groves with a lot of fruit. However, if you just have a handful of citrus trees, there’s not enough fruit to attract large numbers of rodents, so snakes also aren’t as common.
So, while snakes don’t prefer citrus trees themselves, they like feeding on the mice, rats, and other rodents that eat citrus fruit. But what are some other reasons why snakes are drawn to citrus trees, and how can we keep them away?
Why Do Snakes Like Citrus Trees?
Snakes are drawn to citrus trees because they provide food, shelter, and occasionally–water. Snakes don’t eat the citrus fruit, but rather the citrus-eating rodents. The citrus tree’s thick canopy also provides snakes with cover and sometimes provides them with small pools of water.
Citrus trees provide food, shelter, and sometimes water for the snakes, so it’s an ideal environment for snakes to visit.
But besides citrus trees, some places definitely attract more snakes than others. So, what are some other factors that attract snakes?
What Attracts Snakes?
- Irrigated gardens
- Temperatures of 68-80ºF
- Cover such as bushes or rocks
Most commonly, debris such as piles of leaves, mulch, and wood, or other building materials can provide an ideal environment for snakes.
Also, irrigated gardens don’t attract snakes directly, but attract more of their prey such as frogs, mice, and lizards.
So, reducing the amount of debris or cover can definitely help keep snakes away, but what are some other ways?
What Repels Snakes?
The main motivation for snakes is a nearby source of food, so by repelling their prey, such as mice, you’ll also repel snakes. Keep your yard clean and reduce food crumbs both in and out of your house. Trim bushes and trees to limit the cover they provide for snakes. Also, encourage snake-eating birds to visit more.
So, if you can keep rodents and other prey away, you’ll also keep snakes away. While snakes can be scary, they do help significantly to deal with a rodent population.
Try to see snakes as a solution instead of a problem. Once the rodent, frog, or other prey population gets regulated, you should see fewer snakes around.
What Plants Keep Snakes Away?
There are some natural ways you can repel snakes, and these include adding a few plants to your garden. Most of us know that snakes smell with their tongues, so planting some pungent and smelly plants should help confuse and repel snakes, right?
Smelly plants such as lemongrass, onion, and garlic can help keep snakes away. These plants emit chemicals that confuse the snake’s receptors, or sense of smell. While snakes can sense where their prey has traveled, they’ll get disoriented when pungent plants are nearby. These plants can also repel the snake’s prey.
So, because snakes use their tongue to smell and track prey, if you confuse their sense of smell, you can deter them from coming into your garden.
To see more about plants and natural methods to deter snakes, check out this post by pest.org or the video above by Chipp Marshal.
The squirrels and ground squirrels that ate our oranges only lasted for a season, and we did see some snakeskin and tracks around our garden, so the snakes could have had something to do with it.
While snakes can be pests, rodents can be far worse. Try to see snakes as the solution to a different, potentially worse pest problem.
Before taking more extreme measures and dumping chemicals around your garden to deter snakes, encourage snake-eating birds to pay a visit more often instead. Install some large bird or owl houses (depending on how big your property is), and try and let nature regulate itself.
However, if you just have a few citrus trees, you likely won’t have a rodent or snake issue once the rodent’s food runs out. That’s what happened to us, but we’ll keep you posted if anything changes!
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Couch to Homestead, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Local Cooperative Extension Services: While we do our best with these articles, sometimes knowledge from a local expert is needed! The USDA partnered with Universities to create these free agriculture extension services. Check out this list to see your local services.
- Permaculture Consultation: Need help with a bigger project? Send us a message.