We need your amazing chicken photos for our 2020 Calendar! Submit your pics HERE!

Caught a king snake in my chicken run today. Thinking of getting barn cat?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by FowlWitch, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. FowlWitch

    FowlWitch Songster

    Jun 11, 2019
    I mean, I don't exactly have a barn, but I have an 8'x8' and a 6'x10' run for my birds. I'd really like to keep the snakes (and the chipmunks, while I'm at it) out of the runs. I'm debating on whether I want to get a cat that can live with the birds (maybe 1 cat per run?) or even a small-ish dog to kill snakes because my chickens completely ignored it. I actually walked straight over and just picked the snek up lol it musked on me, but otherwise was placid, thankfully.

    In any case, what advice do you guys have for me? Should I try keeping a cat with the birds? I was planning on getting 2 kittens raise with them so it would be used to the chickens from the start (my older brother is actually planning on catching a stray pregnant cat with the intention of fostering the kittens and rehoming, but I can also try Craigslist because there are ALWAYS free kittens). I was thinking of keeping the hypothetical kittens with my chicks because I'm afraid my hens will kill kittens, but is that a good idea? I don't want them to play with and accidentally hurt the chicks, so I may put it in an extra large dog kennel within eyesight of the birds and introduce them that way.

    If this is a bad idea, what are some other ways to guard against snakes?
  2. FluffTheDuck

    FluffTheDuck Duck love is recognizable in any language

    Nov 26, 2018
    My Coop
    I think both cats and dogs would kill the chickens but I don't know for sure. Make sure to collect eggs every day and you could make/get a concrete floor for them to keep out snakes in the coop.
    FowlWitch likes this.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I had a bull snake a couple of years ago. But I have lived here for decades and that is the only one I have had in the chicken coop. He did like eggs.

    I don't think either a cat or a dog will live with the chickens well. However, a good terrier type dog can be good for snakes around the coop and run.

    FowlWitch likes this.
  4. Fishkeeper

    Fishkeeper Crowing

    Oct 30, 2017
    Central Texas
    I wouldn't get a barn cat. Cats are afraid of large snakes, like the kind that would harm your birds, and the ones that cats can kill are the ones you want around to eat mice and bugs.

    If the wire around your runs is small enough that predators can't reach through (i.e. half an inch square), it should be small enough to keep out all the potentially problem-causing snakes. A snake that can fit through a half-inch square won't eat your chickens or eggs.

    As for chipmunks, don't your chickens go after those?
    FowlWitch likes this.
  5. FowlWitch

    FowlWitch Songster

    Jun 11, 2019
  6. Compost King

    Compost King Crowing

    Apr 19, 2018
    North Carolina
    Getting a cat can keep the snake population down but not if you put it in the run. Cats do not run off the snakes as much as they kill off the snakes food supply which will cause snakes to move along to another habitat. A free range cat will hunt down mice, rats, and other small animals that snakes go looking for. The reason why I have cats is to make their range less inviting to snakes.
    As far as cats killing chickens.. They can if they are hungry enough but a well fed cat won't even bother with a chicken because a chicken fights back and its close to an even fight. I imagine some of those large game birds like a Shamo might actually win a fight with a cat but I do not know that for sure. They just look mean enough to do it.
  7. Fishkeeper

    Fishkeeper Crowing

    Oct 30, 2017
    Central Texas
    There's also the matter of, you probably shouldn't keep a cat in a chicken run, with no other enrichment or social interaction. It's not really a good place for a cat to live. They're social, after all, and they need plenty of playtime, plus things to climb, places to hide, and peacefuls spots to sleep in.

    For chipmunks, put powdered cayenne pepper in the food. The birds can't taste the spiciness, and it doesn't affect the nutrition or storage or anything, but rodents hate it.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    When trying to protect a small number of eggs for a hen to set on, make so her nest is elevated so snake cannot access. The duration for protection pushes 5 weeks for some of the eggs when considering time required to set clutch and incubate. My favorite approach in 10' x 10' dog kennels used as pens in barn is to have 55-gallon barrels placed in middle of pen with a rubber water bowl to make so nest is near top. Even Black Rat Snakes cannot get in those although the barrel is a pain in the butt to walk around. Some cats will prove to be like raccoons and be highly motivated to get out. My cats are reliable predators on snakes. My dogs are better, but far from perfect. I have done the trap and relocate approach as have sufficient land as well as neighbors that desire the snakes more than me. That is done only for the really big Black Rat Snakes as they seem to be specialist on eggs and birds.
  9. ChocolateWingTheRooster

    ChocolateWingTheRooster In the Brooder

    Jul 17, 2019
    Just going to say, cats will work. Our snakes moved out. We have a LOT of cats though...
  10. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Addict

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado

    If living where neighbors are close (like where I am in town) roaming cats aren't always welcome to go visiting.

    Random cats pooping in my garden end up relocated to the humane society.

    Proper fencing will keep chipmunks and snakes out.
    aart likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: