rat snakes

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by zoogirl26, Sep 7, 2014.

  1. zoogirl26

    zoogirl26 In the Brooder

    May 19, 2013
    I have an ongoing problem. I have a chicken coop and a small pen attached, where the chickens are locked at night. We have an automatic door that closes just after dark, to keep them safe from varmints (raccoons, possums, skunks, and feral cats are the varmints I have seen or trapped). The chickens are free ranging in the daylight hours, on about 1 1/2 acres fenced, with a horse in it. I have been catching and relocating rat snakes for 2 years. They keep eating my eggs. Often, I don't see them, but, because I put out some fake eggs in the nests for my young chickens to know where to lay, I know it is snakes, because how else would fake eggs just disappear, in the daylight hours, not to be found anywhere? I believe they actually live under the coop, but the coop is too heavy to move. It's an 8 x 8 house made of wood, and the floor is raised about 8 inches off the ground, so there is plenty of space under there for snakes. I don't want to kill the snakes, I just want them to go somewhere else and stop eating my eggs. People say moth balls or a product specifically to keep snakes away are not an option. I feel like they would be dangerous to the chickens and to the horse. Anyone have any suggestions? My coop area is varmint proof when they are locked in at night, but still the snakes could squeeze out from under the house at any time (usually in the day is when the eggs disappear). So I do not know how many eggs I should be getting. I'm only getting 2/day, from 6 hens. Some of them are 6 or 7 months old, so may not be laying yet. But the fact remains that fake eggs are disappearing, so I'm guessing some real eggs are also disappearing.
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master

    Jan 10, 2013
    This is a dilemma.

    Have you blocked off the under coop area - 1/2 inch hardware cloth would keep snakes from getting under it. But all snakes can climb and could get in thru chicken door……. but if you block that during day, chickens couldn't access to lay...

    Bet it is a snake, can't think of any other predator that would return to the area if they got the fake ones. If they are drawn to the area, likely mice enticed them there to begin with. Consider trying to trap mice?
  3. FryeFarm

    FryeFarm In the Brooder

    Sep 4, 2014
    The bad thing is snakes have a great sense of direction, you might not want to kill them but it may be your only option. If you do decide on that route, put a bunch of golf balls on the ground around where you think they are. Snakes will eat them thinking they are eggs but they can't digest them and will die. Kinda gross but maybe as a last resort?
  4. zoogirl26

    zoogirl26 In the Brooder

    May 19, 2013
    The funny thing is, I have put out golf balls, plastic eggs, wood eggs, and styrofoam eggs. And the snakes have gotten them all. I bet they have eaten 20 fake eggs in the last year! I don't know if they eat them, leave, and then throw them up somewhere, or if they are dying and I I just have an unlimited supply of rat snakes. However, I don't find regurgitated fake eggs around anywhere. But I cannot lift up the coop and see what's under there. When I transplant snakes, I take them about 6 miles away, and let them go on a ranch. So I don't think they're coming back.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: