Will Pet Snakes in Your Home Make the Place Smell Bad?

If you’re thinking about getting a pet, one of the first things that will cross your mind is if that pet will make your place smell bad. So what about snakes; is the smell a problem?

Will pet snakes in your home make the place smell bad? Typically snakes do not smell bad. Snakes are near odorless and often require someone to be right next to them to smell anything. As long as their refuse is cleaned frequently then your pet snake shouldn’t release any unpleasant odors. 

Now, if the smell is a concern there may be a couple of other things to watch out for like: How to clean my snake’s tank? How snakes use bad smelling stench to their advantage, and, on the other side of things, How do snakes smell? 

How to Clean Your Snake’s Tank

Most of the smell that is associated with snakes is not the smell of the snake itself but rather the smell of that snake’s habitat. As such, an unclean tank will develop a stench. Just as any form of refuse does, it will stink.

To prevent this smell, your snake’s home will require some fairly consistent maintenance. Depending on your setup in your snake’s vivarium, your maintenance may be slightly different.

For those that use a wood chip or vegetable husk bedding, the excrement can be removed in pieces and the urine will have to be wiped up with a paper towel or similar wiping device.

If newspapers or paper towels are used as the bedding than the bedding itself will have to be replaced. One benefit to this second way is the lack of needing to wipe up your snake’s urine but you’ll find yourself having more paper waste that way.

On the other end of things, the bedding that you use for your snake will often have its own smell. This smell is often woodsy or earthy in nature as the bedding is from a tree or similarly barked plant. So depending on the type of bedding, it may be an enjoyable smell. You will want to replace your bedding every 1 to 2 months as well.

Snakes Use Odor as a Natural Defense

Certain snakes are known to smell bad, or at least they are known to have the capabilities to smell bad. Every animal has a set of natural defenses, and similar to skunks, certain snakes have the natural defense to release a noxious smelling odor to throw off potential predators.

Snakes do this through release in their cloacal glands. These glands are at the tail of the snake and are used in females to produce chemical trails that attract male snakes.

One snake that is famous for doing this is the King Ratsnake. 

Snake will also use this to mark their territory. The stench is as you would expect… terrible! So terrible that it prevents starving mammals from eating food with this smell on them.

This detracting nature of the smell is its whole purpose as the snake will writhe around in its own stench to make its predators disinterested. The snake’s defense here works off of the same concept that most animals view food with, being if it smells bad, it probably will taste bad too.

How Do Snakes Smell?

With all this talk about a snake’s scent, the question of how does the snake use its sense of smell comes to mind.

There is a large misconception that snakes only smell with their tongue. This isn’t true. Snakes can use their tongue to smell by picking up chemical particles in the air, but snakes also have nostrils and an olfactory system attached to them. Generally, their nose is used to pick up on scents and then they flick their tongue to those scents that interest them.

Involving the tongue does add more to the smell they are picking up. There is an organ in a snake’s mouth that help with this extra smelling process called the Jacobson’s or vomeronasal organ.

By flicking their tongues back and forth, they pull odor chemical particle into these organs and are able to get a better sense of what is around them through smell alone. Snakes use this with their other sense to avoid predators and catch prey.

Snakes main two senses are those of smell and touch, and their tongue is the main reason why smell is up there. The forked nature of their tongue exists to pull in more chemical particles to those organs in their mouth.

Can You Use Smells Against Snakes?

Since smell is one of the snake’s main senses, it is best to use odor as a means of keeping snakes away. There is a whole list of things you can use to keep snakes away, including ammonia, wormwood, sulfur, and human hair.

Ammonia is a strong-smelling chemical that is known to get rid of plenty of animals. Snakes with a strong sense of smell are even further chased off by the scent.

Wormwood is a strong smelling herb. Just plant some of these by your house and the strong smell will keep most snakes away.

Sulfurunleashes a strong smell on its own, but can be combined with other things like moth crystals to have an even greater effect on snake.

Snakes care about territory, and they are well acquainted with the large size of human’s being too much for them to handle. Spread some human hair on your lawn, and you’re marking what is rightfully yours and keeping the snakes out in the process.

Snakes are some of the nicest pets to have for many reasons but having no odor is definitely up there as a perk. Any animal that is covered in fur, hair, or feathers has the capability to collect stink on those follicles. Snakes, having scales, don’t have to worry about that problem. So if you’re looking for an odorless pet, pick up a snake.

Related Questions

Do garter snakes smell bad? Yes. Garter snakes are one of the most reliant stink reliant snakes. They will often release their stench when they feel threatened. The smell is not as bad as the musky stench of the Northern water snake, but it is certainly enough to pull your attention and is not pleasant to your nose.

Do copperheads smell bad? Yes, copperheads, along with poison and incredible muscular strength, have the means to frequently release a gas on incoming predators. The gas of a copperhead is not that terrible smelling as other snakes with their stench smelling like cucumbers. But similar to other snakes attempts to scare off prey, the copperhead uses the stench to disinterest its predators. And who wants to chase after a cucumber.

Why does my pet snake smell? Most likely your snake smells because their cage has not been cleaned. Otherwise, your snake may release a musky smell to attempt to scare off predators. On top of both of these options, there is a possibility that the snake is sick. Some snake illnesses will reveal themselves through a strange smelling odor. If neither of the other options seems to be the cause of your snake’s smell then take them to the vet.

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