Battled a rat snake and saved a bantam last night

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Sonya9, Aug 2, 2016.

  1. Sonya9

    Sonya9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Had some high drama in the coop last night. Should start off by saying there are a LOT of snakes where I live, rat snakes, timber rattlers, copperheads, etc... I don't kill them but trying to keep the rat snakes out of the coop is a continual challenge.

    So last night i locked the chickens up at dusk and was chilling when around 10 I heard a bird "scream". Wasn't sure if it was one of my birds or what but I grabbed a flashlight and raced out to the coop. Sure enough, when I got inside the hen house I saw a huge rat snake coiled/constricting on the poop shelf with a couple of little bantam wings sticking out.

    Don't recall exactly what happened next because it happened so fast, I grabbed the snake knowing it would release if frightened, and sort of flung my arm down. Next thing I recall was looking down and seeing the snake hanging off my forearm by his teeth. I think i grabbed him gently around the neck and he detached and disappeared. Poor little bantam was now on the floor (?).

    Not breathing, couldn't feel signs of life. I put my mouth over her little beak and puffed a bit of air in and she started breathing but her neck pulled way back in a "death posture", if you know what I mean. After holding her for a few seconds I pushed her neck forward a bit and she just sat there, eyes closed. The rest of the birds were NOT happy, they were all staring at the coop floor trying to spot the snake (which was long gone, at this point a couple of my dogs were coming into the coop).

    I brought the hen into the house and sat her down on some clean laundry, then went to set up a cat carrier for the night. By the time I did that she did manage to open her eyes completely.

    Fortunately this morning she was perky and "right as rain". I was afraid she may die from shock over night, or have broken bones/cracked ribs from the constriction but she seems fine. Fed her some scrambled egg with a bit of herpes medication (have Mareks in the flock) and put her back in the coop, she was feeling feisty and even chased one of her grown chicks around in a dominance display (she is never dominant).

    Debating if she should be on antibiotics, she may have gotten puncture bite wounds too. I think I will wait to see how she does, if I don't get an infection she is probably okay, I would expect her immune system to be more resistant than mine? Except if she was bit she may not have bled enough wash out bacteria.

    So anyway, had to share my story. Soooooo glad I heard that scream, she is one of my favorite little bantams, also a great broody. I got her as a retired show bird 3 years ago so she is about 7 now. I thought the hen house was snake proof, guess I need to reinforce things a bit more. Photos below.

    Poor little bird right after the attack:

    [​IMG]

    Pic of her last year raising some layer chicks:

    [​IMG]


    Pic of my battle scar courtesy of Mr. Rat Snake:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    Wow! Good for you! I'm not sure what's more impressive - the hand to snake combat, the bloody wound, or the mouth to beak resuscitation! :eek:
    Glad you were there for your bantam. Hope the snake won't be back!
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
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  3. Sonya9

    Sonya9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you. I have had snakes as pets and have gotten bit before, usually it hurts like heck but in this case with the adrenaline it didn't hurt at all. Saving the little bird was all that mattered.

    I am just so pleased she is okay, it is rather amazing that she was unharmed and running around just fine today. When she started breathing but still looked like she may be dying I thought of "Fuzzy Butt", the hen that had her beak bitten off, and how our birds can survive trauma.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
  4. sebloc

    sebloc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Never EVER grab a snake by the body, grab the neck first. Even if it's not poisonous, you can never be completely sure. Grab a stick and hold it down, then grab its head. I don't have many snakes in my area, but I've heard some bad stories about bites.

    Lucky chicken.
    Thanks [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
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  5. Sonya9

    Sonya9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Have you ever seen a constrictor killing prey? They bite and then twist and wrap around the prey sideways, they suffocate the victim which means seconds count. No time to find the head (which is likely tucked under), just get them off the victim.

    Plus venomous snakes do NOT kill in that matter, they bite, inject venom, then wait until the prey is disabled or dead. No wrapping required.

    I know most of the snakes around the coop, a couple of huge rat snakes, a large timber rattler that hunts rats in the run (not the hen house, plus timber rattlers are tolerant animals, the other day a rooster walked right on top of rattler and while both got flustered the snake was cool about it, nary even a warning rattle), and while there are copperheads around I have never seen one in or near the coop, they aren't into that.

    I will say the first time I caught a rat snake in the coop after dark (in non-killing mode) I was nervous and made darn sure to shine the light in it's eyes and make sure the pupils were round.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
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  6. sebloc

    sebloc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well yeah, part of the reason I said so was because it was dark out. I do assume you know a lot about snakes, but I don't think I'd want a lot of scars :/
     
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