Our first snake in the coop

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by aatx, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. aatx

    aatx Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2014
    Erath County, Texas
    Went out last night to close the pop door about 9pm and brought the flashlight with me so I could get a good look at everyone. (I'm currently treating for coccidiosis, even though I am not sure I need to be.) Shined the light in there and saw a really long snake on the same roosting pole as one of my silkies. Instinct took over a bit, and my instinct told me to get the husband and have him deal with it. :)

    By the time he got out there, all he saw was the tail of the snake as it slithered behind a metal plate. We poked some wire in that area and never felt anything, but he may have been able to get to another spot from that area, so we left.

    I was pretty sure the snake was too small to eat a chicken, but then I came on here and started reading all the threads about snakes killing chickens and trying to eat them even when it was obvious they could not. So, I went back outside about 10:30 to check on them again. The snake was crawling out through the pop door. We've got the summer door on right now and the slats are about 3/4" apart. So, the snake crawled out and was then crawling along the fence. It was about 4' long and a chicken/rat snake. I made sure to get a good look at its eyes and they were round, not cat-like. It was maybe 3/4" across it's head, so I am hoping too small to try to hurt a chicken.

    I swatted my gloves at it a few times and told it to move on and not come back.

    This morning I waited until about 7am to turn the chickens out. They would not get down off the roosts and go out the door. So, I got each one down and sat it in front of the door. By the time I left for work about 15 minutes later, only the rooster was outside on the ramp. I could see the others had gotten back on the roosts.

    Are they still afraid of the snake, even if the snake has moved on? Could the snake still be somewhere near and they can smell it?

    I could wrap my door in hardware cloth to make the holes smaller (everywhere else is already hardware cloth), but this doesn't help if the snake crawls in during the day when the pop door is open and actually would just trap him inside with them when I shut the pop door down if there was one hiding in there. My chickens haven't started laying yet. Maybe he will move on when he doesn't find a food source in the coop? (Feeder is in the run, about 20' away from coop.)
  2. mspenny

    mspenny Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 13, 2014
    I had a problem with a rat snake eating my eggs. It was maybe 4 ft. long. It was curled around a clutch of eggs and when I confronted it, he/she spit out an egg whole and tried to escape. I caught it and drove it miles away. My 4 barn cats let me know there was a snake in the barn, they were "yowling" and sitting in front of the creature to let me know there was a "stranger, stranger".You have to relocate it if you don't want to kill it, it will return. They do have a purpose, good mousers, but if eggs are easier to get they will go for them first. Never had a problem with a snake killing the chickens.
    There is a product called Snake Away, I haven't tried it yet, but they say it works. I have an 80 acre organic farm so I'm careful what I use. DE works great for ants. I did have a problem with a setting hen that hatched the first chick and fire ants attacked it immediatel y and I lost it. My hens are free range so go out with the cows and horses and spread manure for me. I have 15 mixed breeds, Buffs, RR, New Hampshires & Barred Rock rooster. Hatching 42 eggs, looking forward to freshening my flock as some hens are over 10, but I got them mainly for bugs here in N. Florida. Eggs are just a perk. So far I can't say I have lost any of my ladies to predators, mostly old age. LOL
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The food source the snake is looking for now is mice, not the chicken feed. The chicken feed will attract mice, which attract snakes. The snake is not eating the chicken feed. Eventually the snake will start taking eggs though. The snakes may have just been exploring, not really attracted to mice or anything else, but I’d look real hard to see if you have mice. Most of us do whether we know it or not.

    I notice you have bantams. They are still fairly large for a snake to try to take, but a larger snake could try one. It comes down to the size of the snake versus the size of the chicken. I have had rat snakes eat baby chicks as well as eggs.

    You can’t frighten away a snake. It may run away when it is threatened but it will return to a good food source. It may return any time, day or night. I don’t know any great way to keep snakes away other than try to limit their food sources. That means deal with a mouse problem if you have one and try to gather the eggs often when they start laying. Certainly don’t leave eggs out there overnight.

    Snakes hunt mainly by sense of smell. I have not tried any of those repellents so I can’t tell you how effective they are. If you can keep the smell up where it masks any other smell and they cannot hunt, it could be effective. That should make them very uncomfortable since they can’t smell things that eat them either. I haven’t done it so I just don’t know.

    If you permanently remove that one snake, you have not totally solved your problem. You will have removed the one that is hunting your coop so that is good, but if there is one there are more. Another one will eventually find your coop. That may be the next day or that may be years down the road.

    Good luck with it. Snakes can be challenging to deal with. I keep a garden hoe with a broken shorter handle in the coop so I have something handy to deal with a snake if I catch one in my coop. If they are not in my coo, I generally leave them alone since they do such a good job eating other vermin.
  4. aatx

    aatx Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2014
    Erath County, Texas
    Yes, no eggs yet, so I'm hoping it was just exploring. When I was talking about a food source not being in the coop, I was referring to mice being in there after the feed, not implying the snake would have been after the feed.

    I haven't seen any rodents anywhere near. We keep the extra feed and scratch in metal drums with locking lids, so no access there. Four outside cats and three outside dogs that tend to make short work of any varmints/vermin that come near.

    We have friends who have had good luck using minnow traps to catch snakes. If I see any more, we'll probably set some out. We're on about 100 acres, so I suppose we could relocate a good snake to the opposite corner or the property if we wanted.
  5. Okie chicken

    Okie chicken Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 19, 2014
    Choctaw, OK
    I have a rat snake that has killed 2 of my hens. The first was about a month ago and it ate her. The second was today and the hen was too large for the snake to eat, but it tried. The hens are not laying yet so I know it isn't after the eggs. The coop is inside a large dog run in the yard and no sign of rodents have been found. Both times the snake has gotten in the coop during the day while the chickens have been in the yard. What should I do?:(

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