Ratsnake in the coop with the chicks....

Sonya9

Crowing
7 Years
Feb 7, 2014
1,922
1,161
291
Georgia
Just found a ratsnake in the laybox with the chicks in the coop!

Last year I lost several bantam chicks, a bantam broody and an adolescent young banty male to a larger ratsnake that raided the coop 3 times. I moved her once and she came back, second time I drove 7 miles down the road and left her near a stream. I came to like that snake as she was very very tame, for a second I thought it was her but this snake is much smaller and not so friendly.

Never saw one in the coop in the middle of the day though! Acks! They must SMELL the chickens/eggs. Weird thing was the snake had to go right past my flock to get into the coop and no one raise a ruckus.

Right now my broody bantam and her two tiny week old chicks are in a sectioned off area of the coop, I gathered them up in a cat carrier so they would be safe while I caught the snake. The broody was peeved at me for shoeing them in the carrier and taking them out of the coop so I turned the carrier towards the laying box with the snake in it and she SCREAMED! She lost several babies last year. I have had her and the chicks sleep in a cat carrier at night with hardware cloth on the door to as an extra precaution inside the locked coop. Not sure if I should have let her see the snake, but on the other hand she needs to be aware that they can be out during the daytime.

FYI I am not posting this so folks can brag about how they love killing snakes, as if it is some impressive accomplishment, in fact in Georgia it is against the law to kill non-venomous reptiles. I am just sharing the story. The snake is in a pillow case in the pump house where it is cool, he will stay there for a couple of days until I go into town and can relocate him.


 

Sonya9

Crowing
7 Years
Feb 7, 2014
1,922
1,161
291
Georgia
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Good job. I love seeing people who will relocate. Beautiful snake, btw. Hopefully you won't have any more show up!

It scares me, last year my birds had one clutch of chicks and we lost all of them to a snake. I tried so hard to snake proof the hen house (and as I mentioned, am keeping the broody and chicks in a reinforced carrier at night in case a snake does manage to get in their house). They have a large covered run so I can't snake proof that.

It has me worried, plus the bantams aren't safe until they are 6+ months old.
 
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MaLoTu

Chirping
Mar 28, 2015
294
12
88
Is it burrowing under ground to get in or is there open access (i.e., is the coop surrounded by fence or to open space)? I would have freaked out to see a snake in my coop, even a little one. I don't think they are a problem here in the East SF Bay Area ... well at least I hope!
 

Sonya9

Crowing
7 Years
Feb 7, 2014
1,922
1,161
291
Georgia
Is it burrowing under ground to get in or is there open access (i.e., is the coop surrounded by fence or to open space)? I would have freaked out to see a snake in my coop, even a little one. I don't think they are a problem here in the East SF Bay Area ... well at least I hope!

The run is large (about 40' x 40') and fenced with 2x4" welded wire with netting on top, so there is no way to keep them out of the run.

The hen house has a solid floor and I did everything I could to fill any gaps that could offer entry. Last year we only had night time raids which is why I was so shocked to see a snake in the middle of the day. They seem to love the nest boxes (this snake and the one before) so I think they can sense/smell where the eggs are laid.

All of my chickens freaked out bad after the snake raids last year, they refused to sleep in the coop for a couple of weeks (had to be caught and carried in every night). I am just surprised the snake was able to get in unnoticed, the coop has a smaller chainlink/hardware cloth covered run where the birds hang out in the shade, he had to go right through that when the chickens were there and none of them gave a warning.
 
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MaLoTu

Chirping
Mar 28, 2015
294
12
88
The run is large (about 40' x 40') and fenced with 2x4" welded wire with netting on top, so there is no way to keep them out of the run.

The hen house has a solid floor and I did everything I could to fill any gaps that could offer entry. Last year we only had night time raids which is why I was so shocked to see a snake in the middle of the day. They seem to love the nest boxes (this snake and the one before) so I think they can sense/smell where the eggs are laid.

All of my chickens freaked out bad after the snake raids last year, they refused to sleep in the coop for a couple of weeks (had to be caught and carried in every night). I am just surprised the snake was able to get in unnoticed, the coop has a smaller chainlink covered run where the birds hang out, he had to go right through that when the chickens were hanging out there and none of them gave a warning.

Do you think putting 1/2" hardware cloth over or in place of the welded wire might help? I know that trying to recover a space that large may not be feasible. I can only imagine the stress of having to deal with it. The one good thing is that they aren't venomous, so they are really posing no direct danger to you or other humans. They are just a nuisance.
 

Sonya9

Crowing
7 Years
Feb 7, 2014
1,922
1,161
291
Georgia
Do you think putting 1/2" hardware cloth over or in place of the welded wire might help? I know that trying to recover a space that large may not be feasible. I can only imagine the stress of having to deal with it. The one good thing is that they aren't venomous, so they are really posing no direct danger to you or other humans. They are just a nuisance.

Realistically I can't hardware cloth the whole run in, can't afford it and even trying to do it would require tearing out the existing run, leveling, doing an apron etc...

And yes we have also had timber rattlers and copperheads in the yard, only 2-3 times that I know of (my dogs found them, fortunately I got the dogs in and the snakes left). At least the rattlers and copperheads aren't eating all my chicks though! They realize their mistake and leave. Ratsnakes are another matter entirely, they will keep coming back again and again. Hopefully this daytime snake business won't become the norm, it is easier to protect against them at night.

On the topic of venomous, when I first found a ratsnake in the coop last year at night I was darn careful, I had an LED flashlight out checking it's eyes to make absolutely sure I wasn't trying to bag a cotton mouth! That would be a very serious error...I have seen photos of venomous snake bites and the damage caused by a bite is truly horrific with weeks/months of recovery.
 
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rides2far

Songster
5 Years
Dec 9, 2014
842
81
126
Bakersfield California
Here in Calif we don't have the sheer # of snakes you have in the South/Midwest. Where I live we have a lot of gopher snakes & rattle snakes. So far, chickens have been safe, but our old pit bull was nailed on the nose by a rattle snake right on our patio. $2500 later, he was fine. What r u going to do... We're not rich, retired teachers, we couldn't watch him swell up & die
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. I would be so furious if a snake got my girls. I love my chickens!
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
20,622
15,040
821
Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
Dangerous for you as well as for your chickens...

This snake posed no danger whatsoever to the OP - to the chickens/eggs, yes (though even that is not guaranteed as some snakes will come in search of rodents, etc. take maybe a few eggs but not harm the actual birds), but not to the human at all.
 

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