Was it a snake?

FenDruadin

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 30, 2009
3,744
213
281
Charlotte, NC Area
Found one of my broody duck's eggs out in the yard today. The shell was crushed and completely dry--looks consistent with how I'd imagine an egg would look after a snake swallowed it, crushed it, sucked its juices, and threw it back up again. Is that the most likely explanation, or would some other predator treat the egg like that? I'm sure it wasn't just an accident or a kid (I have a yard full of them at the moment), because the shell was dry inside and out and I KNOW it was under the hen this morning (I count them every morning, and they are marked).

I love having snakes in the yard for rodent control. But will this one come back and eat all her eggs eventually? Thoughts and tips?

Thanks!
 

HorseFeatherz NV

Eggink Chickens
10 Years
May 12, 2009
6,565
37
251
Sierra Foothills of Reno, NV
I have not had egg eating snakes before (just constrictors) but I do not believe that the snake throws the egg shell up – like an owl with a fur/bone pellet. I could be wrong, so here is a bump.

How far along is the clutch? I am thinking dog, ‘coon?
 

Thamnophis

In the Brooder
10 Years
Oct 29, 2009
69
1
29
I have fed local snakes eggs and they do not regurgitate the shell like the specialized african egg eating snakes. The shells are digested just as bones, fur, etc.
 

FenDruadin

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 30, 2009
3,744
213
281
Charlotte, NC Area
Thank you both!!! That's interesting about the regurgitation--I had seen a documentary once where the snake regurgitated the shell, so I just assumed they all do. But I guess not--I'll have to do some research and see if any of our local snakes do.

My friend caught a snake "red-handed" in her coop with (ahem) "eggs" in his gullet. Except he was eating her egg decoys and went home with golf balls in his gut.
I actually feel kind of sorry for the snake now that I know he may not have later regurgitated--I wonder if it killed him.

Anyway--the clutch was a couple weeks along, and it hasn't happened since. Really don't think it was a dog or a coon--we don't get them during the day often, and anyway my goose would have raised holy h*ll if there had been one in the yard. Had to have been something that Hercules wouldn't immediately notice. Could it be a rat? Only... why was it crushed like that and why was it dry inside? Very weird. I suppose it's also possible that the hen kicked it out of the nest, someone else (my toddler?) picked it up and crushed it, and then something else... ate it?

Dunno... it's a puzzle.

Since it hasn't happened again, I'm not going to worry over much about it. The hen is ordinarily locked in the pen even during the day while the rest of the flock free ranges--the pen happened to be open at the time because we were out in the yard, so whatever it was escaped my notice too. Very weird.
 

StrawberryHouseMouse

Songster
10 Years
Mar 23, 2009
1,349
11
173
Cleveland, Tennessee
It could have just been rotten and busted, the hen would of then tried to remove it from the nest. If she was sitting on it when it busted it would look crushed and the sun would of dried it out.
 

FenDruadin

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 30, 2009
3,744
213
281
Charlotte, NC Area
Thanks, Strawberry.


They do sometimes remove them from the nest, and they get all dried out and they're GROSS. lol

But this one didn't have ANYTHING inside--completely clean and dry. As though it had been squeezed empty, run under clean water, and then dried in the sun--except that it was sitting in the shade on a humid day, and couldn't have been there more than 20 minutes.

I've been researching and it looks like it's true that the egg-eating snakes that regurgitate are not native here, and I can't find any definitive answers as to whether any of the rat snakes or such that *are* native here would regurgitate. What about a king snake? I've seen one of those recently, and it was large enough to eat an egg, too.


Oh well. It may always be a puzzle.
 

Thamnophis

In the Brooder
10 Years
Oct 29, 2009
69
1
29
I spoke with someone more knowledgable about this than I am. He confirmed that our native rat snakes do, in fact, occasionally regurgitate the shells of bird eggs, especially large ones. They do not have the specialized rib structures that pierce the shell allowing the fluid to drain into their throats, as the tropical egg-eating snakes do, but at least occasionally crush the shell by constricting it's muscles around it, then regurgitate the shell.

I've feed eggs to rat snakes and have never noticed this, but its apparently not unheard of.
 

rodriguezpoultry

Langshan Lover
11 Years
Jan 4, 2009
10,917
124
361
Claremore, OK
I agree with Thamnopis. It is one of the first signs of rat snakes at our barn. Our lovely black rat snakes so politely leave the egg shells behind as their calling card.
 

FenDruadin

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 30, 2009
3,744
213
281
Charlotte, NC Area
Oh, thank you!!! I really appreciate your checking on that. Snake definitely makes sense, but it's the first time I've seen something like that. So I guess my friend's rat snake probably didn't die of golf balls. I hope my rat snake goes back to eating rats and doesn't take any more eggs. I suppose an occasional egg in exchange for rat-extermination services is a pretty good deal--I just wish it would ask nicely and I'd give it one that wasn't half-incubated. But then maybe that wouldn't be as nutritious.

Anyway--thank you so much for the feedback. Snake really makes sense here, and I'm glad to know it's possible!
 

rodriguezpoultry

Langshan Lover
11 Years
Jan 4, 2009
10,917
124
361
Claremore, OK
Unfortunately, once they find the eggs, they'll usually switch over their diet and stop killing the rats/mice. At least, that's what happens here. We put strawberry netting over the coops and wind up catching/dispatching before the snakes start killing my birds.

I've lost way too many birds to snakes and don't take chances.
 

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