Will black snakes harm my chickens and chicks? - Page 13
I am with you! My horror started when I let my 6 almost 3 week old chicks out of the coop into the smaller run without supervision. Ito came back to witness a Black Rat Snake trying to swallow my Black Australorp chick. It had the chick under the raised coop, so I couldn't stump it. I was only able to mildly stump it with the tip of my sneakers. It spit the dead chick out and slithered away.The other chicks were huddled in a corner. A few days later, we had a bad thunder/lightning storm. Afterwards, I decided to check on the chicks who were locked in the coop. To my horror, the GLW chick was stretched out dead. I was puzzled. I wondered if the lightening and thunder caused it to run around in the coop to the point of killing itself? However, one of it wing's position looked familiar to me. I couldn't figure it out. A few days after that incident, I went to check on my remaining two chicks, a Buff Orpington and Columbian Wyandotte.. The Buff was in the window which I thought was a wonderful greeting, but to my horror, the CW was dead, stretched out like the GLW and the Black Australorp! It hit hit me like a ton of bricks. My mind screamed SNAKE! With fire in my eyes, I grabbed my large rusty looking pruning shears, slowly opened the coop, looked down at the pine shavings and around the walls, and 3 feet up the wall, near the right side back triangular vent which was covered with 1/2 inch hardware cloth, a Black Rat Snake! He was trying to get out, but there was no way out from the covered vent. With him looking at me, his mouth wide open, I grabbed it with the rusty shears hoping to prune him! However, my shear's blades went sideways. I released and grabbed him again midway, and that's when half of him wrapped around my arm. As I felt the strength he had in just half of his body, I realized that my chicks didn't have a chance, and the rusty shears wasn't going to do the job. I realized I would have to go horse on him. With snake in shears, I stepped backwards out from under the enclosed grapevine/coop area. With both hands on shears, I lowered the snake to the ground and went into horse mode! The thought of the three chicks being squeezed to death raced through my mind as I tried to stump his head to the other side of the earth. After several stumps, I released it. A minute later, I saw his jaw move, he rolled over on his stomach and commenced to slowly lither away, and that's when I went Jason on him with the rusty shears! They did not cut through him, but I knew he would die of internal bleeding and so he did. He died, and I left him out in the grass for 3 days. I threw him out on trash day.
After that experience, I reevaluated my coop and realized how the snake got in. The arch at the top of the coop! It had a gap that ranged from 1/2 inch to 1". I closed the gap with hardware cloth and I covered the top and all sides of my small run with Bird Netting. Someone on this site stated that Bird Netting is their method of catching Black Rat Snakes, and I am here to tell you, it works! Two days ago, August 16, 2015, I went to hose down the grapevine, the coop, the run and check on my lone survivor chick and the new ones I purchased to replace the ones I lost. As I was hosing, something told me to check the left side of the coop. The top left side of the grapevine trellis is very bushy which would conceal a snake with easily. So, I purposely left the netting bushy on that side to help prevent anything from entering the run from that side or top. ! A 4'3" Black Rat Snake was entangled in the bird netting. As it tried to move slowly forward and backward, it became more entangled. I stood watching him and evaluating the effectiveness of the netting. I believe the snake was suffocating because the netting was so tight around his body, he could no longer breath regularly. With a sigh of relief, because he wasn't going any where, I finished hosing. After hosing, I took my smaller, non-rusty shears and put him out of his miseries. I had to cut him out of the netting. The netting was actually strangling the thicker part of his body and head.
Now, my larger run has bird netting from top to bottom. If a snake is able to get his head through the squares, the plastic will get tighter around the snake. Fold it, bush it, it will stop snakes, and it is cheap!
He may be back later. The only way to keep chickens safe is by using hardware cloth on the pen so they can't get in. I found two snakes in one of my pens years ago and they ate about 5 baby chicks. I also found a dead guinea half grown when the snake couldn't swallow it, he spit it out but it was suffocated. They also ate many eggs. I have moved since then and don't have this problem anymore but I'm always watching. Also I try to fix the pens where they can't get in but that's hard too. They can squeeze in just about anywhere. Good luck. Keep a lookout.
No matter where you live in these great United States of America, the Australian Outback or any place in between. If you have Chickens you should find out what the rat snakes in your area look like and learn to respect and protect that particular breed.
I've been raising chickens for about 15 years now and used to always kill each and every snake I would see. I had no respect towards any of them and simply hatted picking one up. Suddenly one day a few years back I saw one that looked a lot different from the mostly black snakes I had been seeing. Darn thing was a Copper Head rairing back ready to put a hurt on my ***. While researching the different breeds after that I found out that the black rat snakes also ate poison snakes like the Copper Head. I started leaving the blake snakes alone and only had to kill one other copper head. I hope something got the first one..
I have found a couple of the black snakes in my nesting boxes but they seem to only eat one egg at a time and never bother the birds. They can't get in any of my brooder pens where I have little birds.
One thing I don't have any more is mice and chipmunks all over the place digging tunnels and destroying my garden. I have learned how to get the snakes out of the boxes and move them back to the woods, it is not to difficult.
Its a trade-off, can you deal with grabbing a non posonious snake, with relocation in mind, and naturally having no rats or do you want to spread a bunch of chemical to kill the tiny but destructive creatures
Around here, the only snakes I will kill are poisonous. If they aren't venomous, they are left alone. However, all my hens are adults and whenever I raise chicks, I do it indoors until they are 4-6 weeks old. In regards to egg eaters, I get plenty of eggs so if they were to take some, it wouldn't be a big deal to me. If for any reason a non-venomous snake were to become a danger, I would pick it up and relocate it, but I don't have any fear or hatred of snakes and have 3 as pets.
That's just me, though. Everyone has to do what is best for them and their family, flock, etc.