As a person with experience in snake removal, I offer a couple of tips on removing snakes from the coop:
#1 - Take the time to check on the local snakes. There are MANY websites titled "snakes of your state here". Be familiar with any local venomous ones. Especially check out the local rat snakes ( AKA chicken snake) for identification purposes.
Also - rat snakes will rattle their tails to sound just like rattlers. This just means they are scared of you.
#2 - snakes in the coop will 99.99% of the time be non-venomous (IE: harmless). And almost as often, the culprit is a rat snake.
#3 - if the snake is black and thin, it is HARMLESS. If it is a rat snake, it is HARMLESS. (Rattle snakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads are heavy-bodied, or chunky-looking snakes.)
#4 - Snakes' bodies/scales are fairly smooth, cool to the touch and dry. It's important to realize that you won't get all slimy if you touch them.
#5 - a rat snake bite will actually produce less of a scratch than wire or thorn bushes. They have tiny but sharp teeth, and will leave v-shaped scratches that only bleed for a few seconds. If you can ID the snake as a rat snake, it's OK to grab them.
#6 - Black rat snakes have a reputation as being pretty docile. They may bite once when lifted, but probably only once, and maybe not even that. Most of the rat snakes I've grabbed do not bite, and if they try, the strike is half-hearted and can be avoided.
#7 - Texas rat snakes - found in TX, OK, LA have a reputation as being very defensive, and biting more than once. Unless you grab quickly, the TX rat snake will coil and prepare to defend itself. Unfortunately, experience is the best teacher here.
#8 - Quick, decisive removal is best. Grab the snake's body firmly, and pull it out of the coop. If part of it is wound around any coop furniture or edges, remove firmly but gently. There is no particular reason to grab it by the head. Snakes are head-shy anyway, and will resist less without a head grab.
Another way to remove them -less effective- is to lift them with a rake so that they can hang on to it.
If you relocate the snake, move it more than a quarter of a mile away. Snakes have home ranges that cover about a square quarter-mile.
#9 - To keep snakes away in general, remove any nearby brush piles, stacks of tin/lumber, etc. which may be nesting homes for rodents.
#10 - As always, I say a snake is a better neighbor than a company of rats.
Any questions? Ask away
Edited by shaky - 5/28/08 at 8:50am