Something useful for the start of snake season...


11 Years
Apr 11, 2008
Just a quick reference to aid in identifying venomous snakes, and being able to differentiate them from those that can safely be ignored, co-existed with(including children!!), or easily relocated.

This is a Copperhead. The most commonly "seen" venomous snake. The bands on some individuals may be darker, but more or less, they always look like this.

These are photos of the Cottonmouth or "Water Moccasin". This page displays the differences in coloration, but a very recognizable snake.

These are some pics of different Rattlesnake species. Though the patterns may change, look at the similarities in head shape/size relative to body, thick body type, and rough looking scales. Of course, they generally have a rattle on the tail tip, unless it is tiny or has been lost. I personally love and respect these creatures.

Though this is from a "pest" website, these pictures and range maps will be VERY useful for most of you to reference any time you see a snake.

Our non-venomous snakes genuinely look nothing like the venomous ones in the US. Just take a closer look at even the species that are thought to resemble something more dangerous(bullsnakes, water snakes, etc) and you will easily see the difference. Most commonly seen are Garter snakes, Rat snakes(many species), Bull snakes, Water snakes, Racers, and little tiny guys like the Dekay's snake and similar. The more you educate yourselves, the less you fear. And why live in fear of something that is nothing more than a harmless, helpless creature just trying to make it's way in the harsh reality of nature?
I like you. I keep seeing your posts on the other snake threads and you're my new favorite person. But, you're right, in my experience, no one is going to stop killing snakes whether they properly identify them or not. I'm not saying that to be mean to anyone because I understand that people are afraid of them...I kill all spiders I see, so I'm being hypocritical. I LOVE snakes and can identify the majority of the snakes native to the US. I tell all my family/friends/neighbors what the snakes are that they find, yet they still kill them.

Any time now, I expect to start getting texts of pictures of snakes....."what's this? I killed it! it's a water moccasin right?" no. because they don't exist in Pennsylvania. I'm a loser and spend a lot of time on several forums...the worst when it comes to snakes is a gun forum. Those men are SO ridiculously scared of snakes. They post pictures all summer asking what a particular snake is, when I tell them, they tell me I'm wrong and that it's "clearly poisonous."
Calling a snake poisonous is probably my biggest pet peeve...granted, there really ARE a couple snakes that are poisonous, but I don't confuse people by telling them that because they will never see said snakes. Ever.
I agree, people aren't going to stop killing them. I personally don't like them but I' don't kill them unless they're in my house, unless my hubby is here. Around our neighborhood he's known as the "snake charmer" he'll catch them ALL, barehanded, he has since he was a kid.
Luckily he's never been bit, he'll even stop on the road; to make sure to get the out of the way.

I've only seen one this spring, a couple of weeks ago, in the garden, just a garter snake. But last year we found several rat snake, and they we're feasting on our chicken eggs.
I'm with you, Sparrow.

Yesterday I walked into the coop and encountered a 4 foot long gopher snake. My husband immediately offered to get a shovel to dispatch it, but I was adamant that he not hurt this snake (beautifully marked, BTW).

I'm not afraid of snakes, but do know how to distinguish a rattlesnake from a non-venomous specie. I captured the snake and relocated him to a large brush pile at the far back end of the property. My husband argued that the snake will probably return and he very well may be right, but I also know the snake was most likely focused on capturing a mouse or rat - not the hens.

Granted, the hens were not happy about their "visitor" and I certainly would not expect them to be, but I will watch for the snake's return and relocate him again if necessary. I do not believe in the wanton killing of snakes as SOP - non-venomous or venomous. Depending on the circumstance, dispatching a rattlesnake may or may not be deemed appropriate, but in all cases I'm prone to give the snake the benefit of the doubt if at all possible.
I was JUST thinking about this the other day ... how to protect my chickens from snakes.

I don't mind snakes, not even the venomous ones, but I'd rather just try to think of ways to minimize having the snakes being *drawn* to the coop and run, much like I'd like to minimize the appeal and allure to any rodents.

Any tips on how to make a coop and run be LESS appealing in general? Other than hardware cloth, buried aprons of hardware cloth and concrete floors? lol.
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Glad to see some people with sensible views on snakes around the yard. :)

The best way to snake proof your coop at night would be to just minimize any holes that a snake of any respectable size could enter through. A two-feet long garter will pose no threat to your chickens, and if you do have a well-reinforced coop, snakes large enough to be a potential danger will be unable to squeeze in. Honestly, all the snake repellents on the market are ineffective, basically just a placebo-effect for the human mind. In the daytime, there really is no way to snake proof your run completely, but you can help by lining your regular strong perimeter fence with some netting or similar that has very small holes in it. Regardless, in the daytime, chickens should have a MAJOR speed/response time advantage over a snake any day, so unless you have tiny chicks outside(which I wouldn't), there really should be no issue.
I totally agree, Sparrow. The killing of snakes just for the sake of killing them is senseless. I was raised to have a healthy respect for snakes and I do. My husband is just the opposite - he screams like a little girl, runs for the shovel or whatever is handy and is certain that even the teeny little ring necked snakes (about six inches long) are out to get him. Snakes and chickens have coexisted for eons without human interference with only the disappearance of an egg here or there. My chickens on the other hand have eaten a few small snakes - probably immature black racers. Unless there was a python, which we do have problems with here in sunny Florida, I would not harm a snake - even a poisonous one.
We have a good number of copperheads in my area. My son killed 4 in one day last year, all close to the house. With two dogs, one cat, the chickens, and two young grandchildren, I can't allow poisonous snakes to remain near our home. They are quickly dispatched.

I don't mind the smaller non-venomous snakes - the girls find them a tasty treat - but will admit I'm not crazy about the large ones. My son will relocate them should they come into the yard. However, should I find them near the hens or in the coop, they get the same treatment as would a fox or raccoon. I play no favorites.

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