Every chicken owner should be aware of possible predators that threaten livestock. As previously discussed on our blog, understanding which animals might prey on your chickens can better prepare you to ensure the safety and security of your property and your chickens.
At Chickens for Backyards, we strive to inform chicken owners about possible predators, and the snake is one to watch.
Confirming that a snake is preying on your chicks and eggs
Most predators leave some sort of evidence or clue of their identity, such as bite or claw marks, paw prints or carcasses left behind. Snakes, however, are known to unhinge their jaws and eat their prey whole, leaving no sign that they were there in the first place. Because of this, it is difficult to identify that a snake problem even exists until:
- You notice that eggs and small chicks are seemingly disappearing from the coop.
- Empty egg shells are found lying in the coop or along your property. After the yoke is freed from the shell, the snake will regurgitate the shell.
- You find a chick with wet, matted feathers, indicating that a snake spit it up after unsuccessfully trying to eat it.
Taking action to protect against snakes
The key to protecting your flock against snakes is to understand what attracts them: rats and mice! For many, these sneaky reptiles are welcome visitors because they eat the vermin that make themselves at home in the coop. Once snakes find rodents on your property, however, eggs and small chicks are essentially “side dishes” to their main course. Is the price really worth it? Now may be time to learn how you can keep your property vermin-free, so your coop is free of rats and mice and safe from the threat of snakes.
Focus on security
Secure your chickens to make sure no pests can find their way into the coop. This can be done with the proper mesh or fencing. Snakes can enter through holes that are ¼-inch or smaller without causing any damage, so it is important to block those holes altogether. If you prefer to keep your pop hole door open during the day so your fowl can roam the yard, just remember to check the coop at night for any snakes that may have slithered in.
Reduce the number of hiding spots
Rats, mice, and snakes all love a good place to hide. Brush piles, tall grass, and other overgrown vegetation provide adequate shelter and make both pests and predators feel safe as they make their way closer to your coop. Keep your lawn is cut low and clear away brush, so the space appears less attractive.
Set a humane snake trap
You should always look for safe ways to keep snakes at bay rather than resorting to cruel trapping tactics. This is especially true for any of our customers who live in the state of Georgia where the rat snake is protected; killing one could result in a fine. If you determine that snakes are getting into your chicken coop, consider investing in a humane snake trap that will hold them until they can be relocated somewhere else or removed by a local wildlife officer.
The snake is just one of the many predators you should be aware of as a chicken owner. For more information on how to keep your chickens safe, contact Chickens for Backyards today!