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Snake - Chicken Predators - How To Protect Your Chickens From Snakes

General Information & Description

 

Snakes are long, legless carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes. Fifteen families of snakes are currently recognized, comprising of more than 2,900 species. The largest living species are the reticulated pythons, which can reach 30 feet long, and the aquatic anaconda, the heaviest existing snake, which measures 25 feet. Most snakes are relatively small animals measuring 3 to 4 feet in length. The smallest is only 4 inches long, the Leptotyphlops cariae. Because they cannot chew their food, snakes swallow their prey whole. The average snake feeds on small animals like lizards, rodents, birds, and eggs. Larger snakes like pythons, on the other hand, can consume an entire deer or antelopes.

 

snake.jpgRange

 

Snakes are found on most islands and in every continent except Antarctica. They adapt to living in different habitats, but most species prefer damp, dark, cool places where food is abundant. Likely places to find snakes around your property is wood or junk piles, gardens with heavy mulch, untrimmed shrubs and shrubs growing next to foundations, unmowed and unkept lawns, fields with tall vegetation, pond and stream banks with abundant debris, cluttered basements and attics, feed storage areas and barns where there's lots of rodents and crawl spaces under houses.

 

Methods of Kill

 

Most snakes kill their prey either by introducing venom through bites, or by constricting them to death before swallowing them. Their highly flexible lower jaws allow them to take in large prey. For instance, the African egg-eating snake can take in eggs larger than his own head. Its spine acts like teeth, breaking the egg shells as it passes through the body. After taking the contents of the egg, it will then regurgitate the empty shell. Once a snakes gains access to your coop, eggs and small chicks are those that are most often eaten by snakes.

 

Prevention & Treatment

 

Those living in areas known for snakes should fortify the base of their chicken coops and runs and fit an apron around your chicken run. Also cover windows and other openings, such as ventilation holes with fine mesh or hardware clothCheck for cracks or holes in any buildings and fill them in, as these could be places where snakes could enter. You can also try snake deterrentsBut be careful when using anything toxic, such as mothballs. Make sure that it is out of reach of your children, chickens and other pets. A safer method of dealing with snakes is by setting snake traps

 

Because snakes do not like open spaces, it is also recommended that you mow tall grass around chicken coops. Make sure you clear away their favorite hiding spaces like wood piles and rocks. Compost piles in your backyard are excellent breeding grounds for the snakes. These should be cleared or relocated far from your chicken coops. Also eliminate rodents from your property as they will attract snakes. Trim any bushes or shrubs to create a space of at least 6 inches between the ground and the bottom branches. 

 

For more information and discussions on snakes and how to protect your flock visit the Predators and Pests section of the forum.

 

Comments (4)

I know they are supposed to be good for the ecosystem because they kill rats and mice, but once they have gone after my ducks those snakes are toast!! Of the three I have killed, two were big - one over four feet and one over five feet long. The smalles one I killed was nearly four feet long. I have purchased some snake repellent, which smells like cloves to me, instead of using moth balls which I hear are toxic to everything, not just snakes. I detest snakes and I am not about to pick one up and carry it off somewhere, just so it can come back and try again!!!!!
Informative article, thank you.
Yellow, red and black rat snakes are native to much of the U.S. and are likely to be the main cause of egg loss from smaller coops - though racers would likely go for eggs as well and are more common in urban areas. Being as I was a colubrid breeder (rat snakes, king snakes and other small, non-venomous species) I know from experience that snakes can get into nearly anything - they are escape artists and can seriously flatten their little bodies. My best suggestion for keeping your coop snake proof is to use the smallest mesh available as chicken wire would allow most of these guys to get inside with ease. Rat snakes are excellent climbers and are perfectly created to climb any tree imaginable - they are truly the best rodent control you will ever see - so take into account that height won't help keep your coop safe from these critters - keep mesh size small and they simply won't be able to enter. I have yet to find ANYTHING smell-wise, save for gasoline and kerosine, that deters snakes - and I certainly don't advise anyone to keep that around their coop. Prevention is the key for snake control - AND if you can keep them OUT of your coop, these same snakes may help you with rodent problems - so try to let them live - once you have a problem with rats, you will never look at a snake the same again - they are Godsends.
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