Snake Infestation


11 Years
Jun 1, 2010
Flagler County, FL
I am new to this forum but it has already proven to be very helpful. I lost 2 small hens to a rat snake over a month ago. I thought my coupe was pretty tight but apparently not for the likes of snakes. We added some extra security to the coupe and left one of their eggs in there as bait. There were no signs of a snake for 2 weeks so I felt as though our improvements were successful and it was safe for more hens. I purchased 3 young hens about 6-8weeks old and introduced them to their new home. Things were quiet the 1st week or so. Anytime I saw a rat or corn snake on our property I would relocate it to what i thought was a safe distance. This past week has turned into a nightmare. I have seen a total of 6 snakes in less than 1 week. Saturday evening I was alerted by the hens and ran out to check on them. I was horrified to find the Barred rock on the ground with snake coiled all around her and squeezing the last breath out of her. Thank god I arrived in time and as of today she seems to be doing well. This was not a large snake by any means and I would have never deemed him to be a threat. I took the suggestion of a recent post and sealed all cracks with spray foam sealant and am hoping this keeps them out. I am so frightened for them. Again! Sunday night when I went to check on them all looked fine until I gazed up and spotted a huge rat snake on top of their coupe looking for a way to get in. I am a nervous wreck and would appreciate any suggestions in keeping the snakes away. I have horses too so I am limited as to what pesticide i can use around the coupe.
Thanks !!
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It's migration season for rat snakes and they eat along the way. You'll have to get even more serious because they climb and come in the eaves, too, if nothing is available outdoors. They are a formidable opponent and the only way to deal with them is a barrier, such as 1/2" hardware cloth, flange, roofing and blocked eaves.
Yes, rat snakes constrict their prey. I've lost quite a few chicks and older pullets to yellow rat snakes. I almost lost an adult Buff Orpington hen to a 5 foot long yellow rat snake trying to constrict her. The snake met the shovel.
I was very surprised that a snake that size would consider eating my hen. She was obviously way to big for him to digest. I am so glad I rescued her in time. Has anyone ever put owl decoys around to deter snakes.
We have had and over abundance of rat snakes lately also. We bought some cheap bird netting stuff from lowes and put it over the tops and around the bottoms of the runs and anywhere else we thought they could get in. It has worked. the snake thinks they can get through it but then becomes intangled. We caught 3 in one week. The first 2 were still alive so we cut them out of the net and carted them off to the woods, the 3rd was not so lucky. I lost 1 pullet last year and a bantam rooster this year. they will also steal eggs. A lot of times they don't go in looking to mess with the actual birds but when the birds come at them often the bird loses.
This is as much an issue for the snakes as it is for your chickens. Rat snakes are colubrids, they cant eat as huge of prey item as boas and pythons can. If they are hungry enough to take on a chicken then you possibly don't have enough natural prey (wild birds and rodents) for them to survive on in your area. I don't think any rat snake would be able to swallow down a full grown chicken. Or even a half grown chicken. A chick maybe, but after the 2 month mark I don't see it happening unless its a very small bantam. Usually snakes wont eat anything they cant swallow. I always ignored non venomous snakes around my property cause they eat rodents; which bother me more than snakes. Is it possible that your hen might have been trying to eat the snake and it reacted in a way that resembled it trying to kill her? By which I mean wrapping around her and fighting back. There could be something else around your coop that's killing your hens. Something that's attracting the snakes, like a family of rats.
StrawberryHouseMouse. I agree with what you say. However the yellow rat snakes (chicken snakes as we call them) here are aggressive and will attempt to kill any size chicken if they can. The full grown Buff Orpington incident I was referring to happened around midnight. She was in her house with a full grown Black Star hen and dragged off her roost out into the pen onto the ground. This particular Buff Orpington is a screamer (and still is). It is for that reason I ran out of the house to the pen with my flashlight and saw what was happening. The rest is history...after inspecting her I returned her to her roost. She layed me an egg the next day. I had 3, five month old RIR pullets that 2 of the 3 wernt so lucky, same situation happened at night. I found them the next morning, 2 days in a row dead in the pen. I observed in both instances they had been swallowed down to the base of their necks, but the snake couldnt swallow past their shoulders/wings. I waited outside the 3rd night and just before midnight I caught something in the corner of my eye from the back porch light. It was a 4 foot long chicken snake coming back for the third pullet. He met the shovel. I lost 4 of 6 chicks to a chicken snake that managed to get in our garage and in the cage where the chicks were located. the snake was too fat with 4 bulges to escape from the cage. That snake met the shovel also. I have no rodents around my property, this why they come in after my chickens.

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