On any particular day, your home might have an odor. Maybe it's from something you cooked or maybe it's because you should've taken your garbage out a few days earlier. Most of the time, unless it is smells like gas or smoke, an odor is nothing to worry about, but there is a surprising scent that should also be concerning - cucumbers. If you haven't been chopping the vegetable recently and notice a faint cucumber-like smell, it might be a sign of a dangerous issue.
That's because that musky cuke-like odor, especially if it seems to be emanating from your basement or garage, is the scent venomous snakes like copperheads and rattlesnakes emit. And if you think you don't need to worry about that because the snakes are most prevalent in the Southwest, think again since copperheads can be found in 28 states and rattlers actually live in nearly every state.
So what causes the cuke smell? According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the odor is produced by the glands at the base of the snake's tail and can be more potent if it is mixed with their poop. When the reptile gets scared, it releases the musky, cucumber-like scent as a defense mechanism. However, their dens can also have the smell of cucumbers, especially if they are dying, hibernating or on alert.
However, famed herpetologist Laurence Monroe Klauber claims in his 1997 book Rattlesnakes: Their Habits, Life Histories and Influence on Mankind, Volume 1, that the cucumber smell is a myth that started when someone smelled a snake den where one had died during hibernation. Though he does concede that on rare occasions a snake might discharge its musk.
Either way, if you smell cucumbers coming up from your basement or wafting out of your garage, or if you see snake skin, slither tracks or snake poop (which is similar to bird poop) in your home, your best bet is to not go investigate and instead to call an animal or pest control expert to find the source.