Snake identification and removal

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by shaky, May 28, 2008.

  1. shaky

    shaky Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    As a person with experience in snake removal, I offer a couple of tips on removing snakes from the coop:
    #1 - Take the time to check on the local snakes. There are MANY websites titled "snakes of your state here". Be familiar with any local venomous ones. Especially check out the local rat snakes ( AKA chicken snake) for identification purposes.
    Also - rat snakes will rattle their tails to sound just like rattlers. This just means they are scared of you.
    #2 - snakes in the coop will 99.99% of the time be non-venomous (IE: harmless). And almost as often, the culprit is a rat snake.
    #3 - if the snake is black and thin, it is HARMLESS. If it is a rat snake, it is HARMLESS. (Rattle snakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads are heavy-bodied, or chunky-looking snakes.)
    #4 - Snakes' bodies/scales are fairly smooth, cool to the touch and dry. It's important to realize that you won't get all slimy if you touch them.
    #5 - a rat snake bite will actually produce less of a scratch than wire or thorn bushes. They have tiny but sharp teeth, and will leave v-shaped scratches that only bleed for a few seconds. If you can ID the snake as a rat snake, it's OK to grab them.
    #6 - Black rat snakes have a reputation as being pretty docile. They may bite once when lifted, but probably only once, and maybe not even that. Most of the rat snakes I've grabbed do not bite, and if they try, the strike is half-hearted and can be avoided.
    #7 - Texas rat snakes - found in TX, OK, LA have a reputation as being very defensive, and biting more than once. Unless you grab quickly, the TX rat snake will coil and prepare to defend itself. Unfortunately, experience is the best teacher here.
    #8 - Quick, decisive removal is best. Grab the snake's body firmly, and pull it out of the coop. If part of it is wound around any coop furniture or edges, remove firmly but gently. There is no particular reason to grab it by the head. Snakes are head-shy anyway, and will resist less without a head grab.
    Another way to remove them -less effective- is to lift them with a rake so that they can hang on to it.
    If you relocate the snake, move it more than a quarter of a mile away. Snakes have home ranges that cover about a square quarter-mile.
    #9 - To keep snakes away in general, remove any nearby brush piles, stacks of tin/lumber, etc. which may be nesting homes for rodents.
    #10 - As always, I say a snake is a better neighbor than a company of rats.

    Any questions? Ask away
    Last edited: May 28, 2008
  2. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    Thank you for that post. There seems to be a large amount of snake phobia here.

    Snakes aren't good or bad. They are just a part of nature.
  3. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Just a tip.... don't do like I did a few weeks ago!

    I saw a black snake out sunning right beside the house, and thought I'd catch him for the kids to see and then let him go (I'm not a snake hater...rather snakes than rats anyday!) We only have rattle snakes (brownish) and copperheads (copper/brownish) poisionous snakes around here... black = safe...RIGHT?? Hmmm...

    So, I grab it by the tail, croc hunter style - with the body still on the ground. he's pretty prob.

    About the time my daughter comes around the side of the house, he realizes that someone has his tail and he decides he's not so happy about that. That's when I noticed the decidedly, extreme arrow shape to his head. Hmmm... thinks I, this can't be a poisionous snake, right?? - it's BLACK - wrong color for a copperhead, and no rattle, so not a rattle snake either way...right???

    Then it starts coiling and striking. At that point I figured I'd leave the guy alone and he starts lunging at me. I grab the tail again and put him back where I found him and he slithers back under the house.

    COULD he have been a POISIONOUS snake?? Off to the internet I go, only to discover that 1) baby/yearling rattle snakes don't have a rattle yet and 2) timber rattlers in my area can actually have a black phase coloration...pic looks JUST like the snake I picked up.

    Oh well, all's well that ends well - and apparently I have a yearling black phase timber rattlesnake living under my house which also explains why we didn't have any mice problems this winter.

    But, I did warn the kids NOT to pick up that black snake LOL
  4. shaky

    shaky Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Please notice that I said black and thin.
    Heavy-bodied animals are almost always pit vipers.
    Take the time asap to review lots of pictures before deciding you're ready for grabbing.
  5. Jolyn

    Jolyn Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Northern California
    Ewwwwwwwwww arlee453....That gave me the chills reading it. Aughhhhhhhh!!!!
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    good post!

    just wanted to add: a whole variety of perfectly harmless snakes will sometimes vibrate their tailtips, making a rattling noise against leaves etc, when threatened - not just rat snakes.

    Another useful thing to know is that if it is glossy-shiny, it ain't poisonous, not in North America.

    Arlee, I wonder if you might've had a melanistic (black phase) HOGNOSE snake, there. They look and act as if they oughta be venomous, but aren't. Mind you I'd still strongly recommend staying away from anything chunky-bodied and even *possibly* venomous, but still, it is something to consider, I.D.-wise [​IMG]

  7. CrowinKing

    CrowinKing Songster

    Nov 29, 2007
    It's nice to have another snake person here!!! Reptiles have been another passion of mine for about 15yrs and counting now!!!
  8. jkcove08

    jkcove08 Songster

    Apr 12, 2007
    I live in a part of Iowa that occasionally has a rattler or 2, at least that is what I have been told. My hubby swears that when he was 18 he ran over one. Now every time they see a rat snake or boe snake my oldest son freaks out. Last summer I was in the house when my son comes running up yelling " get the shot gun rattler!!!!" I just rolled my eyes and headed out the door. Mind you my hubby is not afraid of snakes like a couple of his friends but he doesnt much care for them either... When I got out to the drive there was a rat snake about 4 feet long. I was kinda suprised at the length... It was very agressive but after a little work with a long stick I was able to get it under some of our wind break bushes. I like seeing them around, they also keep the mother in law at bay when I dont want them around, just have to say I was seeing snakes in the yard again and she wont come I know that is mean but sometimes you do what you have to. All of my children like snakes and respect them. My older 2 will catch the gardner snakes and play with them for a while before letting them go again. Jenn
  9. luvmychicknkids

    luvmychicknkids Canning Squirrel

    Mar 6, 2008
    Floresville, Texas
    Quote:[​IMG] Alright, I love, love, LOVE snakes. ALL snakes. However, the thought of accidentally grabbing a rattlesnake gave me the creeps. Really glad you are alright!!!!
  10. 2kool2

    2kool2 In the Brooder

    Apr 29, 2008
    Sound's like a cottonmouth to me.Was the inside of his mouth white?

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