Kingsnake and chicken eggs

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by greasemonkey59, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. greasemonkey59

    greasemonkey59 New Egg

    Sep 6, 2016
    Elizabeth, IN
    We have 13 hens and 1 bantam rooster. Well set aside from some of my Issa Brown's' molting. We noticed that we are only getting between 4-8 eggs a day. I know every chicken doesn't lay every day.
    My husband was pressure spraying the chicken coop the other day to stain it again. On the far side as he was spraying between the outer wall and the back of the nesting boxes he saw something moving. All of a sudden from the top between the roof and wall, out dropped the largest king snake he's ever seen.
    We know we had some mice in there. But the question is, will thing king snake eat chicken eggs also? If so, how many will he eat in a day? Because we collect eggs in the evening when we do chores outside on the farm.

    Also about 3 months ago we came up missing big chickens, no feathers, no blood, nothing left. We started setting a live trap at the back of coop that sets at the edge of the woods.
    The first night we caught a large raccoon, the next night, we caught a baby coon, then another little one. We took all 3 about 10 miles away and released next to a large wooded area with a creek running by it. We set the trap again 4 nights later and to our surprise the next morning, we had a mother Opossum, took her to the same place turned her loose, the next night a 2 baby opossum, then before we quite setting the live trap we caught 4 more baby opossums. So all these pests. We put electric fence 2 lines around the top of
    the fenced in coop and running pen and 1 around the bottom on the outside facing the woods in back and left side. No more predator problems, other than the king snake. Which he came back after my husband quite pressure washing, we've seen him.
    Is he the culprit to the egg problem or should we leave him alone? I'm the type of person that just the sight of snakes, I see snakes, makes me panic.

  2. Lilki

    Lilki Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2016
    I don't bother king snakes because they keep the rattlers away. I'm in prime rattlesnake territory though. I've never seen them taking the eggs so I can't help with that. Just personally I'd rather have them than rattlers.
  3. Cynthia12

    Cynthia12 Always Grateful Premium Member

    Apr 11, 2010

    Not sure about that snake! Got type in predators in the search bar!
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Eggs show up as part of the diet of king snakes if you do a search on it. Eggs are kind of a universal food, they pack a lot of nutrients in a small package. There are just all kinds of critters that eat eggs.

    Just because a king snake will eat eggs doesn’t mean she is eating the eggs. I’ve never seen a king snake eating eggs but I have had rat snakes and black racers eating them. The typical pattern is the snake eats some eggs, the number depends on the size of the snake, then goes away a couple of days to digest them. Then two or three days later they come back for more. The pattern I’ve seen with snakes is that there is a drop every few days, not every day. They will show up at any time of the day or night. There is no pattern to that either. That snake may or may not be eating some of your eggs. If it is a consistent every day thing, it’s probably not just the snake.

    As you noted, some of your chickens are molting, it’s that time of the year. I assume you are not talking about those. It’s still quite possible you have more molting than you think. Some chickens are fast molters, some are slow molters. That’s genetic. It’s not about how fast the feathers grow back, it’s about how fast they fallout. Your ISA Browns are probably fast molters. They are production chickens and should be bred to be fast molters so they can return to production pretty quickly. The feathers fall out in chunks.

    Your others may be slow molters. With these, the feathers can fallout so slowly you can’t tell by looking at them that they are molting, other than you might see some extra feathers flying around. Then eventually, and it can take months, they look really sleek in their new feathers. When chickens molt they start at the head and neck, you might look closely to see if you see new feathers coming in. This time of year you have to suspect molting as a cause for a drop in egg production.

    If it’s not molting, the second most common cause of a drop in egg production on this forum is that they are hiding a nest from you. They can be really sneaky about hiding those nests. You might want to look really well.

    Many critters will eat eggs but most will leave clues behind, egg shells or a soggy mess. It’s possible your chickens will clean up the egg shells, but my experience is that they normally don’t, at least not consistently. But maybe yours do. If you can drop in at random times during the day you might see something. But the only critters I’m aware of that don’t leave clues are snakes, canines, and humans. We’ve discussed snakes, possible but probably not consistently. Most canines (fox or coyote) would probably be more interested in the chickens than the eggs. Many dogs would eat eggs but not bother the chickens. Do you have a pet dog that has access to the coop? The thought that it might be a human is pretty creepy but I feel I should mention it.

    A consistent drop in production this time of the year is almost always the molt. If they free range you can maybe lock them in the coop or coop/run for a day and see if production goes up, checking for a hidden nest or locking out a critter that is eating eggs. You can check down there several times a day, maybe this weekend, to see if your count goes up. But I think you will find it is the molt.

    Good luck!
  5. carlf

    carlf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 2, 2016
    Mobile, AL
    Never, ever relocated mammalian predators.
    In most states if not all its is illegal. All you are doing is taking your problem and relocating it somewhere else, where there is already a booming predator problem.
    And you risk transferring distemper, rabies, mange and other diseases.
    If you can't bring yourself to kill the predators you trap, find a friend who can or call a critter control company.

    Kingsnakes mostly eat mice, lizards and, as noted, other snakes. They especially like to eat venomous snakes and are about the only natural enemy of a full grown rattlesnakes.
    It might be eating some eggs but I doubt its eating them every a day. 4 eggs is enough to sustain a large snake for at least a week.

    Unless you have peeps, the king snake is no threat to your birds. I would keep him around. That said, my one exception to relocating predators is non-venomous snakes. Plop her in an old pillow case, tie it off, drive her out into the country and let her go if you cant stand having her around.

    More than likely, your hens have dropped off in production for one reason or another: heat, molting, taking break, etc...
    8 eggs out of 13 hens is actually pretty good.

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