Snake prevention - what's best to use with dogs and kids around

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by haocamper, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. haocamper

    haocamper New Egg

    Aug 15, 2011
    New to the forum and keeping chickens. Found your site this morning while searching about snakes. Last night a big black snack got into my coop and was trying to eat one of my hens. I thought she was already dead, but apparently I got to her just in time - her face is a bit scratched up though, but she is alive! Anyway one of the chickens ran off during the attack, and I still can't find her. Do they eventually come back if they are alive (assuming nothing else got to her)? My neighbor has chickens too, so I am going to check with her to see if my chick ran over there to be with her chickens.

    I saw people posting about using sulphur (where do you buy it?) and minnow traps (have no clue). I have 2 chihauhau's that go in the back yard and I move my ark style coop around the yard. If I put sulphur down will that hurt the chickens, my dogs, or kids? And where do I get the traps? Any other dog friendly ideas? Someone told my husband about leaving a golf ball in the nest and the snake will eat that instead? Is the snake that stupid - thought they could smell if it was actually "food" or not. Are the snakes after the eggs or the chickens or both?

    Thanks for any help you can provide!
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'll comment on the golf balls since I have experience with those. Earlier this summer, I found a 5' black snake in my coop that had swalloweed two golf balls from my nests. I recoverd the golf balls, washed them, and put them back in the nests. About a week later a different 5' black snake was in the coop, having swallowed the same two golf balls. I recovered them again, washed them and put them back in the nests.

    I gather my eggs every evening so there are no eggs staying in the nests overnight. Snakes will show up at any time of day or night. I had noticed that occasionally I would have fewer eggs than I should have, so I did suspect snakes were getting them, but a golf ball had only gone missing once before. So, will snakes swallow golf balls? Yes, but not always.

    I've read that once snakes swallow golf balls, they will eventually die since their systems get plugged up. I'm not sure I believe that. People on this forum have reported snakes regurgitating chicks so they can escape after getting caught in a cage. I think it is quite possible snakes can eliminate golf balls and keep on going, but I don't know for sure.

    Snakes are almost always after the eggs, though they will take a baby chick quite readily. Most snakes are not big enough to take a grown chicken, but snakes come in different sizes and grown chickens come in different sizes.
  3. Chinchilla2

    Chinchilla2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2011
    Red Rock
    If it smells good, feels warm, and might be food, the snake will eat it. This goes for eggs, chickens, or a rock under the chicken. The idea behind golf balls is to "plug up" the snake so that it croaks itself on dinner or get full enough on golf balls it will leave the eggs alone. However, since snakes can upchuck, using something that will break has the advantage of killing the snake in the process. I have used small plastic Easter eggs to the same purpose with the advantage that the snakes natural swallowing and digesting process breaks the plastic egg up into slivers and shards that then lacerate the snake from the inside. The same principle applies to ceramic eggs.

    While I don't know if it would work on snakes, ground red pepper makes a great dog and cat repellent while not harming chickens. A good snoot full of pepper stings pretty good (except on that one dumb dog of mine that snorts up a line, hacks, coughs, and with slobber running out of his mouth, has to go back for another dose). In the past, the biggest problem I had with it was the birds ate it up almost as fast as I could put it on the ground. It definitely did not harm the pheasants and quail. There is even an old wives' tale that says it increases egg production.

    Moth balls also help a bit. The problem with those is that you don't want the birds to get hold of them. You might want to put a few around the sides of your ark, keeping at least 6 inches away, for a day or two. This might run off the snake. You could place them in small disposable foil tart pans so you could gather them back up easily during the day and then place pan and all down at night.

    I am not sure about the sulfur running off snakes or harming your chickens and dogs but it does pose another problem. Sulfur stinks. Even if sulfur doesn't hurt the chickens, I would still be a little leery of using it, especially if you are eating the eggs. Eggs make hubbies stinky enough without adding extra sulfur to 'em through the "you lay what you eat" process of the chicken [​IMG]
  4. mulewagon

    mulewagon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2010
    You know, I need to start bookmarking these threads, as a rebuttal for all the people who sneer at the thought that snakes will harm chickens. Snakes are actually my biggest predator, though they've "just" wiped out my chicks and hatching eggs many times - I've been lucky with my grown birds so far.

    You can get minnow traps in the sporting goods section at Wal-Mart and similar stores. Put them firmly against walls, where the snakes crawl. A snake researcher said that bait was unnecessary - they just crawl along the wall and into the trap.

    You can also drape loose deer netting around the outside of the pen. Some folks twist it along the ground, some drape it over the top of the fence. Snakes get caught in it.

    If you're building a new coop, you can make it snake proof by covering every opening tightly with hardware cloth. Though some folks have reported snakes coming in by day, and hiding in the bedding.

    My losses have usually been at night, when the chicks are asleep, though I've caught a couple in the daytime. One regurgitated an egg and sped away...
  5. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    I agree that snakes can be dangerous even to adult birds. I found an 11 foot python trying to eat some three-quarter grown birds. Fortunately it was a cool time of year (so the snake was sluggish) and I was able to herd it into a crate and relocate it.

    Perhaps relocation is the best bet with a big one? With little ones I agree, the very fine netting will catch them (whether you want it to or not).

    best wishes
  6. navychick

    navychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2011
    Quote:Holy Crap! Where do you live that there are 11' pythons?
    1 person likes this.
  7. haocamper

    haocamper New Egg

    Aug 15, 2011
    Thanks for everyones advice. I was able to find one of the missing chickens the next morning (she was hiding in the front yard), and the other one was hanging out by the coop when I got home. The other one (that the snake had in its mouth), her face has healed.

    We have left the outside flood lights on each night since this happened and I haven't seen the snake back. This weekend I am planning to replace the fencing with smaller wire and put wire along any of the openings the snake might get through. Did buy some sulphur (the guy at the feed store saw my husband getting it and said "you got snakes?") and plan to put it out along the edge of the yard along the wood line. My neighbors have had 3 of their chickens killed by a black snake (till the husband finally killed it).

    My chickens have not started laying yet (there 18-20 weeks old)- should get my first egg in September or so!
  8. dufus

    dufus Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 12, 2011
    Quote:Holy Crap! Where do you live that there are 11' pythons?

    this must be in florida, as the pythons are running amuck down there. i personally would have dispatched the critter, instead of relocating him to another area to eat other folks small dogs and cats. however, they will eat coons also, so they help in that respect. one shows up around here, he is a hat band......

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by