Back when I was a child, my boy scout leader told us that you could put a rope on the ground to keep snakes away. That seemed ridiculous at the time, but it was before GOOGLE so there was no way to check for sure. A close friend of mine just asked brought this back up so I figured I would finally set the record straight.
Does putting a rope on the ground keep snakes away? There are some experiments that suggest a well-placed rope deters some snakes, but there’s very little proof. In reality, almost every snake will cross over most rope and they’ve been observed crossing ropes many times. However there are times where snakes won’t cross over ropes.
So does that mean that it’s a myth that snakes won’t crawl over ropes? Don’t be so fast to jump towards conclusions. Even though most snakes aren’t afraid of ropes, there’s actually a little bit of truth to this question.
Can Snakes Go Over a Rope?
Over the years there have been a few experiments that suggest that some snakes are afraid to cross over ropes. The problem is that they just can’t find any rhyme or reason to why they won’t cross over.
Some snakes will crawl right over, while others try to find away around. It’s kinda like people that don’t like to walk on grass barefoot. They just don’t like the way it feels on the bottom of their feet.
Either way if they’re trapped in the middle of a rope they will always crawl over the rope. Snakes will crawl over a rope just like they crawl over other obstacles.
It’s no different than any other stick that a snake slither over throughout the day. All a snake is looking for is heat and vibrations to warn them of danger. A rope will be treated like every other inanimate object.
Will a Snake Cross a Braided Rope? What about a Horse Hair Rope?
Back in the old day’s Cowboys would swear that if you put a rope around your bedding a snake would never cross it. Without any type of anti-venom, they tried anything they could think of to ward off poisonous snake bites.
It doesn’t matter what the rope it’s not going to scare off a snake. The whole theory that the horsehair will scratch the snake’s belly is just bologna. They crawl through sand, rough rocks and over cactus all day long. A rope isn’t going to faze them one bit.
If Ropes Don’t Scare Off Snakes, What Does?
If a rope wrapped around your sleeping bag doesn’t ward off snakes, why did so many people think that it did? Probably because snakes don’t want to crawl into bed with you in the first place.
They’re way more likely to be afraid of a human than a rope. By far the best way to deter snakes is just to hang out in the general vicinity. Any snake that’s nearby will be quick to leave.
Unfortunately, snakes aren’t afraid of anything that can’t kill them. In fact, there isn’t a single snake repellant that’s proven to be effective. The only way to get rid of snakes is to eliminate their food source and that’s never going to happen.
Where Does This Myth Come From?
The whole idea behind this myth is that snakes are trying to get you in the night. In fact this is just fear and hysteria playing into your emotions. Unlike what the bible would like you to believe, snakes aren’t just out to get you.
There are three main theories as to where this myth originated from. Like with most urban legends they kind of make sense, but they don’t stand up under scrutiny.
- Rope Hurts a Snakes Belly: The old saying goes that since the rope is made out of horse hair it’s too rough for the snake to crawl over. This immediately makes sense to anybody that has ever held a horse hair rope. In reality, a snake crawls on sand, rough rock and cactus without any problem so a slightly prickly rope won’t be a problem.
- Horses Kill Snakes: Snakes try to avoid horses because they will stomp them to death. Do you really think that they’re stupid enough to think that a horsehair rope is the same thing as a horse? The rope might smell like a horse, but snakes rely on sight, vibrations, feel, etc. A rope will never be mistaken for 1000lb horse.
- Rope Looks Like a Predator: Ever see the videos of cats reacting to cucumbers? Watch the video below if you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s hard to say for sure whether or not snakes think a rope is dangerous, but it’s highly unlikely.
Snakes Wouldn’t Bother You At Night Even Without a Rope
It’s true that snakes are drawn to warm places at night, but it just doesn’t make sense for a snake to cuddle up with a human. Snakes aren’t stupid! They associate humans with death. There’s just no real reason for a snake to crawl into your sleeping bag.
A snake isn’t going to come into camp at night and bother you. They might come looking for mice when you aren’t there, but they’ll be fast to leave the moment you get back. Unless you have food in your bedding to attract mice I doubt you’ll find a snake inside your sleeping bag.
I’ve slept outside in a bivy sack many times without ever running into a snake problem. Snakes mostly avoid humans! Plus they’re cold-blooded so you really don’t have to worry about them at night. They’re usually fast asleep waiting for the sun to come up.