A rat snake has killed one of our chicks

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by [email protected], Jun 19, 2010.

  1. clarkimi@bellsouth.net

    [email protected] New Egg

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    Jun 19, 2010
    We are definitely in need of some advice. How old should our chicks be before we leave them outside overnight in their coop? We live in South Florida where it is very warm. Our chicks are approximately 5 weeks old. They are just now loosing their down and growing tail feathers. We have an old playhouse that we have enclosed in coated chicken wire and turned into our coop. We just went outside...again...to check on our chicks and see how they were doing their first night in their real home and off of the porch. They were going crazy and one of them was flopping around. I thought we had startled them and it had run into something. As soon as I picked it up, I realized there was a small rat snake wrapped around our little chicks neck. I was unable to wrap the snake fast enough and our poor little chick was killed. Needless to say, we have moved the other two back onto the porch where they are safe from snakes. When are they old enough to fend off a predator as small as a 12-14" rat snake that can fit through the chicken wire? Thank you for the help.
     
  2. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    BOCOMO
    Sorry about your chick. Just posted a shot of .5" hardware cloth in the snake thread below: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=361367&p=3 , as a heads up for just this eventuality (the bolt cutters makes quick work of cutting panels from it). The snakes, and anything else that can get through/tear apart chicken wire, can't get through the hardware cloth (excepting bears and the like), but air circulation is unimpeded.

    Good luck!
     
  3. clarkimi@bellsouth.net

    [email protected] New Egg

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    Jun 19, 2010
    Thank you so much for the info on the .5" wire. Honestly, the snake was so small, it could have fit through that! How old were your chicks before you kept them in a coop overnight with the smaller holed wire? I am going to head to the feed store on Monday and see if they carry that type of chicken wire. (or maybe Home Depot?) Thanks again. HOpefully we can keep the other two safe!
     
  4. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    BOCOMO
    Hardware cloth is also available in .25" (half as large an opening). Our chooks went out at 10wks. Double layer .5" hardware cloth over all windows, attached with 1.75" wood screws through oversized washers (mostly because of raccoons, not snakes).

    Take Care!
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2010
  5. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    Here's a pic of a rat snake at my house that got a rat in my attic. We had a new roof put on and there was a small space next to a riser. I pulled the boards loose to get them out; I didn't want either one getting back in there. I haven't seen any more snakes or rats since. My point is, it was a pretty small crack that it got into. It was about a 5' long snake.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. clarkimi@bellsouth.net

    [email protected] New Egg

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    Jun 19, 2010
    Hardware Cloth it is! We are definitely investing in some tomorrow. Thanks for all of your advice, it is truly appreciated.

    The Rat Snake pic...WOW! I'm glad that snake did not get into our coop. We would not have any chicks left if that were the case!
    Thanks again. :)
     
  7. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    [​IMG] from West Palm Beach! Where exactly are you in South Florida?

    I too have lost chicks to these red corn snakes. They make me mad because they'll kill chicks too big for them to swallow. I can tell when a chick has been killed by a snake because I'll find it dead, with just its head & neck slimed. Once they reach the shoulders they spit it out.

    I often keep my young chicks indoors at night until they're around 6-8 weeks, or until I get tired of their mess & the extra bother. A secure coop screened with the hardware cloth will also keep them safe.

    These red corn snakes aren't otherwise dangerous, you should be able to pick them up without getting bit. Put them in a feed sack or pillowcase & take them to your nearest nature center, ask the staff for permission to release them there. We now have 2 of them for pets.
     
  8. hipeatall

    hipeatall Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2009
    I am sorry you lost a chick. I completely understand how you feel... I just lost one of my chicks to a snake a few days ago [​IMG]. She was 10 weeks old. I reinforced the coop with 1/2" hardware cloth and I feel pretty confident (though I'm still a bit nervous) that they are safe now. Sorry again about your chick. https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=360651
     
  9. chickfan

    chickfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 12, 2009
    Leander, TX
    We had baby chicks and one duck, in two cages on the front porch. In one of the cages we had taken the mama out (these hatched on June 3 and 4.) because she was getting restless. We were given a baby duck of the same age, and put it in with these chicks. There were 8 chicks in there. In the other cage, we had 5 chicks with the mama. That cage is 100% covered with hardware cloth. The other one was about 75 percent covered with hardware cloth (the reason being that I ran out of the hardware cloth). I had patched it here and there, and also had a blanket over the top, where there were small openings. DH went out Friday morning, to find a rat (chicken) snake in the pen. It had killed the duck and two of the babies, and had two bulges in its tummy where it ate two more. We have caught these snakes going for eggs twice...one we killed because we couldn't catch him. The other was relocated. This one, needless to say, was killed.
    Totally my fault. I should have known this would happen. It was on the front porch, just in front of my bedroom window, and I didn't hear a thing! I really thought they would go for the eggs and not the babies. Another vote for hardware cloth, and a slap on the head, to the careless human who didn't think things through (that would be me). I'm just sick about it. :*(
     
  10. shesaredroan

    shesaredroan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Several years ago my feed store suggested a solution to help with snake problems. Bird netting. Yes Bird netting.....they even had photos from customers who'd successfully used it. This netting is black plastic, 1 inch square openings, in sheets of about 12' x 24' or bigger, usually used to protect fruit trees. I got some and tried it. YES it works! The trick is you TWIST OR WAD UP the netting, place it on the ground outside the chicken pen or you can hang it (wadded/twisted) outside the hen house around openings that are higher up. This works because snakes can't backup very far. The snake starts crawling through the netting and gets stuck and can't back out. There is stays, stuck tight. No kidding it really works. I've caught 2 this spring already and many in the past years. Also, if you have old chicken wire that is twisted, squashed and all bent up it can do the same thing, I learned this by accident.
    When snakes are about I have fewer eggs, chicks and toads. I'd rather have eggs, chicks and toads than snakes. : )
     

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