Snakes in the Coop

Snake In the Nest

Snake in the Egg Nest

We were doing the chores late last night. We have two calves that we are bottle feeding until they attach fully to the nurse cow. After the bottle feeding we stopped by to get the eggs. There were hens nesting in each of the 4 egg nests. Continuing our conversation on how the calves did not want the bottle – but the nurse cow did – my 8 year old daughter and I reached under each hen to gently relieve her of any eggs. At the third nest – “Yuck – a broken egg”, I said as my hand came back with what would have been breakfast dripping from it.

At the last egg nest something didn’t look right. In the light of the flashlight something was moving around the base of the hen. Instantly my hand recoiled from its extended position. “Look! Around that hen…. There’s a snake!”. We ran to the barn to get a shovel, and I grabbed some long handle tree loppers. By the time we ran back to the coop, the snake had almost left the box. With the loppers I pinched the tail, swung the snake out onto the ground, and covered it with my foot. It was soon dispatched.

This morning I went out to take a photo of the snake. Back at the coop, I took a photo (the one above), and then opened the door of the coop to throw the hens some scratch. Across the door slithered another snake. I grabbed it by the tail and flung it out on the road. It started to head for the garden patch. The only tool I had in the coop to pin it with was 4 inch putty knife that I normally use to clean out the egg nests.

While not venomous these egg-eating snakes are very aggressive, and I do not want them around my children. Because of their diet, their mouths are pits of infection. With its tail pinned, the snake tried several times to bite me. I covered its head with my shoe. After another dispatch I laid the snake beside the first one.

The evening snake is about 3 feet long, the morning snake around 4 feet long.

I think I’ll start keeping a shovel in the chicken coop.

Two Snakes

Evening snake on the right. Morning snake on the left.

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83 Responses to Snakes in the Coop

  1. Susan says:

    I found a snake in our nest box one afternoon and when we hauled it out of there with a pitchfork to send it on its way you could see the bulge of an egg he had eaten. The next day I realized my marble egg that stayed in the nest to remind this wayward bunch of hens I had at the time where they were to lay eggs was gone! Guess that was the last egg that snake ever ate! I felt bad – we do allow the snakes we find on our property to live. The one in our crawl space we had to come to an understanding that if he stayed over in his spot while I was under the house fixing something, he would live to see another day!

  2. Sandy Upton says:

    I have not experienced the snake in the chicken coop yet! But my 1 1/2 year old gray tabby, Boots, brought in some type of 1′ small nonvenomous snake that looked like it had just eaten something small (baby mouse or large grass hopper) into the house and promptly dropped it on the floor and meowed at me as if saying mom I brought you a present. Well my first reaction was to yell #@$&% Boots, then it started to move and thought hubby was going to handle it, wrong answer. I jumped up grabbed little guy by the tail and went out the door with the present with cat and hubby hot on my heals. I turned it loose under a blueberry bush that had a lot of dead leaves around it and proceeded to give the cat a lecture of why I didn’t want to see another one of those things. Meanwhile hubby is asking are you crazy it could have bit you, and I am giving him the look of then you should have grabbed it. I try not to kill anything that can be helpful around the farm and hope the cat doesn’t bring me anymore snake presents. Time will tell and crossing fingers that I won’t have anymore snakes in the house.
    Sandy

  3. Ted says:

    It’s called “Nature’s Tax,” and one way or another you will have to pay it. Snakes are beneficial and should not be killed but rather relocated if you have issues with them. Here we relocate possums and raccoons but snakes we let them have a few eggs. They usually won’t go after the chickens as they tend not to kill something that can’t eat. I’m surprised that ya’ll would encourage the killing of snakes. Snakes eat less than cats and cost less to feed.

  4. Carlee Wright says:

    One of our sons bought old golf clubs at a thrift store for a couple of bucks – cut the head off and bent the shaft. These are our snake sticks and there is one at each exterior door (4). These are great to hold the head of the snake down until we can pick it up and sling it or chop it’s head off. We have rat snakes in the chicken houses occasionally.

  5. Mark Mckinney says:

    Found an Eastern Coachwhip in the place I am going to keep the chickens. The snake is over 3 1/2 feet long with a black head and tan body, about 6 inches around, and very fast. Prowls about during the day in search of grasshoppers, cicadas, lizards, snakes and small rodents. Will strike at face if cornered. Almost not afraid, because once I chunked a shovel at it’s head, and it didn’t move!!! I would move. The book doesn’t say if the Eastern Coachwhip is venomous. Ranges all over FL.

    • Ted says:

      Not poisonous.

    • Robbie Huber says:

      Easten Coachwhip is NON-Poisonous! The Snakes shown in article are Greater Plains Rat Snakes! Non-Venomous: they hunt Birds: Bird eggs: Fish(may be mistaken for water Mocassins {cottonmouths} );Lizards; other snakes: Rats are their favorite food– chicken owners need to keep their feed sacks, etc., in “garbage cans” with lids; barrels: etc. Check for rats! They like to eat “feed” eggs, etc. & the snakes will come looking 4 rats\mice! Plug up “holes” 2 keep out rats\snakes! Rattlesnakes; Copperheads & water moccasins are pit vipers! They will have eye pupils that look like “slits”! Rear fangs snakes:Vine Snakes ;Lyre snakes will have “rear Fangs” towards back -of-mouth:can inject weak venom: They will also have “slit eyes”! Rats snakes Have no venom–are members of the boa\constrictor group: Have ROUND eye pupils! your Coral snakes (king cobras–look out in Florida– some {king} cobras got loose during the hurricanes a few years back; are now showing up in shopping center parking lots, etc- they also have “Round Pupils”. Go with old “standard”: Red & Yellow Kill a Fellow~ Red & Black: Venom LACK! to help distinguish between King snakes (NON- Poisonous) versus Coral Snakes! Set of loppers\shovel: good for cutting\chopping heads off of chickens in the coop! Remember to check for mice\rats when you see the snakes around! Also: chickens can get “hurt”\poisoned by certain mice\rat poisons\traps– be careful in use! When I had my Sebrights a couple of years ago– I had a rat get into the coop & JUMP @ me :SCARRRY! Didn’t get bitten, was worried for my hens\young chicks! FYI: skunks & coons can bite the heads off of chickens& leave the carcasses! Hawks; owls; fox will carry chickens off! My roos had the cat terrified; they would chase him\bite\peck at his tail\head! Rat snakes can get as long as 6-7 ft long. Corn snakes are the Red Rat Snake! corn snakes can get close to 6 ft, don’t get as big as the Greater plains rat snakes & GP ratters are more “aggressive”! Good Luck–hope this post can help fellow chicken owners! Also if you set out certain (D-Con??) rat poisons & see your chickens Poop turning “mid-blue\med.blue” in color?!– get them lots of clean fresh water& GET them 2 a vet– your chickens will have found a way 2 “get” into the mouse\rat poison & has ingested it! Place traps WHERE NO CHICKENs can get their little curious souls\beaks into it\them!!! Rob Rez

  6. betty says:

    You need more barn cats!! SERIOUSLY, I never see any snakes because we don’t have enough mice to interest them, and that’s primarily what they’re looking for. Good thing you didn’t lose a laying hen. =/

  7. Kerusso says:

    Where do you live Joe, that you have snakes that large that aren’t poisonous?
    We are moving to Tennessee and were wondering if those snakes were there.
    Also would the Sumatras kill snakes this size?

    • Matthew says:

      He lives in central Texas.

    • Lara says:

      Kerusso,

      If you are moving to Tennessee, you can end up having the Timber Rattler, or the copper head, in your yard near the wood pile, out building, flowerbeds, landscaping ect. Both are very SERIOUS poisonous snakes. Not to mention, bears, and coyotes.

      Lara
      family from NC mountains, and Tennessee. I am currently in SC

  8. Cindy Nickel says:

    Last year going to shut the chickens up in my coop for the night I got cornered by a rattlesnake in my pen–nothing for protection against it. Finally my husband came to check on me because it was taking me so long and the light he brought with chased it off. Haven’t seen it since and hoping not too. I now have 18 guineas, and 6 geese running around everywhere–haven’t seen any snakes and hoping not to! I always take my shotgun shell shooting pistol with me now when I go into the coop late at night.

  9. Matt says:

    I am not a fan of snakes either. I will scream like a woman!!! That said, I keep about 6 cats to keep the rodents and snakes away. We had a bad rodent population when we moved in 2 1/2 years ago, but since the cats they are not a problem. I have also only seen one snake (about 10″ long). The cats do a great job of keeping the snakes away too. My brother had guineas that worked great, but the skunks wiped them out! I will shoot a skunk in a second! My chickens aren’t laying yet. I hope that the cats will continue to do their job once the laying starts in about 3 months. The only venomous snakes around here are rattlesnakes and I’m sorry….I will not be relocating or moving any rattlesnakes….they aren’t making it! I have moved a couple of sand snakes on their way before at our old house.

    Bottom line, I love animals (I have about 30), I garden, I recycle, I compost…but I’m about as “green” as the color purple and sometimes that means a snake or other predator has to go!!

    • Robbie H. says:

      No problem with getting rid of the rattlesnakes: pistols; 22’s; shovels & good long handled loppers will do wonders for getting rid of your pit vipers! Remember: they will have “slit eye” pupils! your rat snakes & king snakes which will eat : rats, mice, rattlers, copperheads, water moccasins, & other rat snakes have “ROUND eye” pupils! Can tell king snakes from coral snakes by:
      Red & Yellow Kill a Fellow; Red & BLACK VENOM Lack!

      Snakes Like dark places. I used to keep a low wattage light bulb on in my coop at night: that way I could see any “creepy crawlys,” BUT, SO could my chickens! Keep holes; chinks etc. covered; chicken wire wood over opening will help. Keep feed IN a closed container! Steel garbage cans/metal barrels will work will to keep rodents out of feed. Along with rats /mice come your snakes! Hawks Owls prey on mice, rats, snakes& chickens! Again: tight coop will prevent Skunks; Racoons (22 works good here– these 2 carry rabies more than anything); fox & coyotes. All the big prey animals dine/feast on: Rats; mice; snakes & chickens; racoons & possums! Cats might be “bullied by your grown roosters/hens! They can help in rat/mice problems! Keep yourselves, kids, & chickens safe! Yes owls CAN chase people, too. Don’t “hoot” at them — nothing like a 4& 1\2 ft high Great Horned Owl swooping down at you at night! Big birds of prey can have a binocular vision as high as 2 miles in the sky! They can zoom in on field mice, rats, baby chicks, kids jumping on a trampoline at night! Falcons may be bad at swooping down on people/pets at night! Be SAFE!

  10. Doug English says:

    I have caught and studied native snakes around the U.S. for 40 years and the above blog post entitled “Snakes in the Coop” is an extremely misinformed post. Readers, please be aware that corn and rat snakes do much more good than harm by their consumption of rats and mice. Additionally, THEY ARE COMPLETELY HARMLESS TO HUMANS!. You are far more likely to be harmed by a chicken than by a rat or corn snake. In fact people die each year from consumption of poultry meat and eggs but I sincerely doubt that anyone has ever even been hospitalized by a wild rat snake. While they are likely to invade coops in the spring, this is temporary and they will move along as the season progresses. At most they will eat only a few eggs/chicks. They typically eat and then hide/digest before eating again. If you find them, rather than killing them, simply pick them up and remove and relocate them. Typically a few hundred yards is far enough to prevent their return to the coop. Again – THEY ARE COMPLETELY HARMLESS. The author’s fears about these snakes are unfounded and naive. They are not aggressive and they are not dangerous. They rarely bite if picked up near their tail and held away from your body. You can see how to hold them at my blog http://urbanksfarmer.wordpress.com/. My advice is to keep them on your farm for rat control and do not follow this ill informed post. When handling them wear gloves and wash up afterwards if you are worried about transmission of bacteria. Please feel free to contact me with your concerns or questions.

    • Ted says:

      I call it “Natures Tax”. Pest control cost something and snakes are cheaper than cats. Great reply to the above post. Wish more people thought like you.

    • milton thomas says:

      Thanks for your post describing how beneficial rat and corn snakes are. I was even thinking of introducing some of their western cousins (gopher snakes) on our property to help keep down rodents which also helps to reduce the only truly dangerous poisenous rattle snakes….

  11. Caleb Lackie says:

    Just killed one of them scaly egg terminators last night. They freak me out!

  12. Janet Kline says:

    In my area, kill one, 50 come to the funeral. I don’t mind them in the barn, but not in my basement or around my chickens. I thought black snakes keep away rattlers, but that isn’t true. They winter together. They really creep me out but I try to get along with them.

  13. Julie says:

    I am also saddened that these snakes were killed. Snakes are an integral part of nature. Yes, I would also freak out due to the surprise of finding a 4-foot snake in my coop, but these are one of God’s beautiful creatures & as such, could be relocated – far away if you are afraid of snakes – and not needlessly destroyed. I like to think that as a species, humans are evolving to be more kind to each other & all other species, including those that we may not all love as dearly as we love our chickens.

    • Robbie H. says:

      I too don’t mind, really, the rat/king snakes, as they WILL eat the poisonous snakes, rats, and mice. It’s just when they DO get inside homemade brooders; the coop & have EATEN baby chicks & eggs! Normally (in my experience) the rest of flock will totally REJECT survivors of “Snake Attacks”! Rat snakes are GREAT for helping your cat keep rat/mice population down! Venomous snakes & snakes in coops won’t live, though if they have my chickens as dinner in mind! They can go elsewhere or meet Mr. Lopper/Mr. BB gun(22?)! Coons, possums, skunks, and coyotes (which risk EXPOSING you to RABIES) can be shot; those varmints won’t mind killing your cats/dogs, either. Have 2 keep you/your coop safe!

  14. Kim says:

    Along with many of the other comments, I disagree with the killing of the snakes. Snakes are a very, very important part of our ecosystem. Rat snakes in particular are very valuable in keeping the mouse and rat population at bay.
    We too encounter snakes in our chicken house most every summer. Unless they are of the poisonous variety, we catch and relocate them. (We have never found a rattlesnake in our chicken house)
    Last year we were visited by a rat snake about 5′ long. We caught and relocated her three times. She kept returning to the chicken house. Eventually we simply left her alone. She was not hurting any of the chickens, only eating a couple of eggs each day. We gather between 6-12 eggs every day so it did not hurt us to forfeit an egg or two for the snake. Within a week, she was gone and we never saw her again.
    I think it is very important for everyone to remember we share our earth with many amazing animals, and this is what makes Earth so special.
    Perhaps you should look into purchasing a snake catcher to put near your coop, instead of a shovel.

  15. Tammy says:

    Looks like one or both may be King Snakes. We NEVER kill a King Snake because a) they are not venomous and b) they KILL rattlesnakes and copperheads. See the video below of a California King snake killing a rattlesnake. We have 2 Kings that frequent our house and they do sometimes eat an egg or two but the service they provide is well worth an egg or two here or there.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRpGC4MXFKE

  16. wendy mcginnis says:

    I do not like snakes? My chicken coop is right next to my dog yard, and she lets me know if there a snake. I get my husband.

  17. Antonina says:

    I have an amazing cat that kills everything (snakes, mice, voles, etc) but she never even looks at the chickens. Good luck with your situation, snakes scare me! You are brave!

  18. Shar says:

    I live in Northern California. I have found two gopher snakes (non-venomous) one adult on my front porch. We scared each other; it slithered away just as fast as I ran in the opposite direction. I left it alone, and have not seen it since. The other snake was a baby the size of a pencil; it was warming itself in the corner if my back door. This one was striking out and rattling like a rattlesnake (venomous) which also are in the area, so I just got a really really long stick and carefully put in a five gallon bucket watching it after about 30 minutes I was able to see that it was just a gopher snake. He was frightened of me and was just trying to protect itself by acting like a rattle snake. I took it out to the back of my property and released it. They are both welcome on my property and will learn that my space is not a fun place to hang out. I have chicken but have had no problems with snakes in the coop as I have placed my nesting boxes 3 feet off the floor and made perches about 6 inch across the front of the nest boxes, to help chicken easily access them and then have placed ramps approximately two feet from the perches one each end of coop, also the entrance to the coop is 2 feet from the ground with just a ledge large enough for chickens to land on to enter the coop. Chickens have no problem with the distance, but snakes if they make it in the coop stay on the floor were the rodents could be. So far I have not lost any eggs or peeps, but I have less rodents. Should I ever run in to a venomous snake I will call for help and let people who deal with them remove it from my property to a new location.

  19. jenn says:

    It makes me sad that people feel the need to kill things they don’t understand or fear. I have a 6 foot rat snake that I have nicknamed Slithers that has been living on my farm now for 3 years. I was quite happy to see him show up again in my tack room this spring. We’ve become quite accustomed to each other although I do admit it is a bit startling to open the chicken coop and find him there. He’s harmless though and I agree with the comment that an occasional egg every now and then is more than pay back for the rodent population he keeps in check. I really wish there could have been a more peaceful solution to this supposed problem. =(

  20. Debbie Bell says:

    I find large rat snakes on our coops frequently in the summer months. All you have to do is catch them and pop them in a bucket or cooler with a lid and relocate them. They do often act aggressively when cornered or captured so you have to be careful. King snakes eat venomous snakes and rarely bother the chickens, so they are an even better snake to keep around than rat snakes.

    We built the brooder boxes and the Serama pen with very small mesh wire to keep the snakes out. You have to put the smaller mesh all over the pen as snakes are good climbers.

    Remember – we have moved into their habitat!

  21. Sandra Pifer says:

    I had the same problem…..I have bird netting stapled up in the rafters of my coop, and the other night my daughter found half a snake tangled in the netting the other half hanging out the door. After panicking we finally killed the black snake with a shovel and was ripping the netting down to re-staple new netting when we realized there was another snake tangled up with the first one……they were both black snakes about 5′ long. I don’t care if they kill mice…they don’t belong in my coop where I have eggs and young chickens and guineas. EEEEKKKKK!

  22. Patty P says:

    Please do relocate non-venonmous snakes instead of killing them! Our next door neighbor killed a 4 ft. dark snake of some kind a few weeks back. I was disgusted because I haven’t seen any rats lately. The snake was eating them. I live in a suburban neighborhood where rats have plenty to feast on. The snake was helping us.

    Their reason for killing it was “It was after your (my) chickens.” They killed it in their back yard, not mine.

    I think because of biblical influence and too many snake-filled monster/horror movies, people are irrational about snakes and their place in nature.

  23. Tim says:

    I’d freak if I saw a snake like that near my coop. I do however keep a shotgun near the garage (my coop is a lean to off from it) for coyotes and the occasional fox. I have never had to shoot a fox but coyotes are a serious nuisance around here in VT.

  24. TimmyP says:

    I could use a snake in my chicken house. I’m sure it would eat more mice than eggs and that’s gotta be a good thing.

  25. Joanna says:

    We have raised chickens over 30 years and have had snake problems. We do kill them when we see them but it might take weeks or months until we cross paths. So we loose a lot of eggs that way. We put one little plastic eggs in each nest the snake will eat it and not be able to digest it. The snake will die.

    • Robbie H. says:

      Ceramic Eggs placed in the coop will kill Snakes! They CAN PASS the plastic ones if they are a grown snake, but NOT the Ceramic ones ! They will also encourage your hens to lay! One or two per nest is usually all it takes! Can also leave a few ceramic eggs outside your coop: snakes will eat: crawl off &die! Then you can retrieve your ceramic eggs; wash & reuse them!They can be bought at farm stores,etc.

  26. Chad Stamps says:

    Very much agree. We catch any snakes we find on our farm so we can do a positive ID of the species (for our own curiosity) then the kids can see and interact with them before we let them go. It’s true some are aggressive, most aren’t if handled correctly (I haven’t been bitten since I was in grade school) , and they are a lot less problematic than the things they eat (mice, rats, voles, etc). I’d relocate one actually eating eggs, but most are great things to have around and are more likely to be eating mice than eggs. I can ID the venomous ones and of course we wouldn’t catch those and let the kids interact, but we’ve never found any on the farm so far, and they aren’t as common as most people seem to believe.

  27. Susan says:

    I want to encourage everyone to give up their fear of snakes and learn a little bit more about these amazing creatures. Here is just one of many many educational sites about snakes (that also provides many links to other sources of information): http://42explore.com/snake.htm
    You can also use Google or another search engine to find information about snakes. Wikipedia has a good general entry about them. Bottom line: Snakes are not to be feared, but are to be respected for the important role they play in all of creation.
    Enjoy!

    • Robbie H. says:

      Mice:Rats & SNAKES all bring in:Hawks; Falcons; Owls & Coyotes! Leaving feeds covered\out reach to mice\rats; Ceramic eggs & a low wattage light placed in coop at night will help your chickens see whats out there; not surprise you! Chickens CAN sleep with a low light! If you have “nervous” chickens: a CD player playing classical; soothing type music: ocean\”nature” CDs(Yanni, too will work) will sooth “ruffled feathers” in the coop! Good Luck!
      Your fav. soothing type music is great: chickens will enjoy it, to! :-) Rob

  28. Kellly says:

    Ryan, once you cut off a snake’s head he is dead. The head will NOT reattach to the body, it is impossible for severed bones, tendons and ligaments to magically reattach themselves. That is an old wive’s tale.

  29. Susan says:

    Please please please for the sake of the snakes and the very beneficial role that they play in the natural environment (namely, eating the rats and mice and roaches that eat your feed)…PLEASE RELOCATE SNAKES! You can easily and gently catch these non-venomous snakes and take them at least 1-2 miles away from your place to a forested area where they might happily live out their lives without taking any more eggs. I regularly relocate snakes from my egg operation, and I also welcome a certain level of snake habitation to take care of the rodents. Please educate yourselves about snakes and their role in the environment…and please teach your children to appreciate them. No, I’m not an extremist or vegetarian or anything like that…I am just a person who wholeheartedly embraces ALL elements of natural creation as important in their own right and for playing their own roles in the circle of life. I am horrified and saddened that you killed these two beauties, and I implore you to not encourage this violence against nature in your blog in the future. Thank you.

    • Ted says:

      The only snakes I found on my farm were Diamond Backs. These I has no mercy on since one bit my 6 year old one the foot.

  30. Marcus says:

    Please don’t kill snakes like this!! Throwing them out is okay, transporting them to another location even better, but not killing these wonderful creatures who do such a good job of keeping rats and other vermin away…The few eggs they may take more than pay for the extermination job they do on the rats!
    Neither your children or animals are in any real danger (pretend/supposed/imagined danger I cannot answer to, but no REAL danger!

    • Carol w. says:

      I agree with this, people kill stuff too quickly. It takes a black snake a long time to achieve these lengths, and they ate a lot of rats and mice doing it. I lost a full grown 8 lb hen to a very large black snake once. He couldn’t swallow her, but squeezed her, then her head and neck were extended in an odd way, and her feathers on her neck matted down. He got as far as her craw, then couldn’t swallow her, and spit her back out. in 35 yrs thats the only loss I ever had. They are much more valuable for eating mice, poisonous snakes, and rats, moles, etc.

  31. Lisa Stark Hughes says:

    I agree with Diane, Guinea hens will keep out the snakes and mice. They are noisy and ugly but they hunt in packs like raptors and keep out or kill the snakes and mice. Our feed store can’t keep guinea hen chicks for even 24 hours. A whole shipment is gone within hours! So worth it! I hate snakes

    • Robbie H. says:

      Funny thing, here: one of our neighbors has a pet (feral born) pig\hoglet that they r raising with their pet Lab. Neighbor on the other side of them has a single guinea bird! Guinea bird is lone survivor out of 12: his owners; the neighbors -with-pig’s yard; my backyard–the guinea sees as HIS\HER yards! Piggy got out of his enclosure; got into our backyard& ENRAGED the guinea bird! He\she ATTACKED the lil pig: biting with beak; flogging it with wings; clawing with legs! Piggy FLED to 1st neighbors garage; then to his pen! Guinea strutted with pride! NOT in MY yards says lone guinea bird!! :-) ;-)
      Rob H

  32. dgonano says:

    Something is eating my eggs too. Haven’t seen a snake yet, but that would be a good candidate. That or a feral cat, maybe, since the hens don’t seem to see whatever it is as a threat.

    • Carol w. says:

      Are there egg shells left behind? Like the eggs were eaten in the nest? If so it is a opossum likely. It took me 3 weeks to catch the 2 possums that were eating all, I mean ALL of my eggs every dang day! got ‘em both tho, they never hurt a hen or chick, just wanted eggs… lousy wildlife.. LOL

  33. Suzi Fire says:

    I actually welcome black snakes…even though TWICE they have “Eaten” my ceramic nest egg…they keep down the rat population & deter any POISONOUS snakes for inhabiting the area…still, it does give me a START to open the door & see it slither past!

  34. Annie Price says:

    Get geese! We have Embden geese, and I have yet to see a snake of any kind on our place!

    • Grace McLemore says:

      I have a flock of 20 of these gees & still have a snake problem! They kill my nesting hens to get to the eggs if the hen is too protective of the eggs. I now have a rat problem, but have not lost my hens to snakes this year.

      • Robbie H. says:

        Get some ceramic eggs from your feed store: most predators can’t digest them: they can be rewashed\reused & they will encourage your hens to lay! Geese CAN be mean to kids; strangers; dogs & cats–to you, sometimes! Great “burglar alarms” plus, will eat your bugs; spiders; scorpions! Geese & guineas will let you know when “strangers” are close by! Rob. H Chickens (Sebrights) love to eat “Gecko” lizards, too! Free ranging hens lay healthier eggs; will have darker colored yolks– sometimes,even an “orange” colored yolk(s)-more vitamins\nutrients: better than “store boughts” (cheaper,too)! Geese= Bigger eggs,too! :-)

  35. Mary says:

    It will happen if you have chickens, it’s that time of year, be careful, they hide all around the coop and wait for a quiet time to sneak an egg. They are there, and they usually come in pairs, especially rattle snakes :D I get the rat snakes and cotton mouth! ICK!
    Be careful everyone.

    • Robbie H. says:

      That’s where Mr. shovel; Mr. loppers; Mr. gun comes in handy! along with Ms. ceramic eggs– non- digestible by snakes! Be safe! remember to kill if you can the rattler that bites you ! Taking dead snake to the ER can aid in getting proper anti- venom for you! Be Safe! Rob :-)

  36. Alice says:

    I knocked on wood, that I won’t see one. 2 1/2 years and have not had one in our coop. We have seen them in the yard. But not in the coop or chicken play area.. I’m not sure if it’s because of the dogs.
    Is there anything that can be put down to keep them out?

    I agree with Jason, my favorite kind of snake is a dead snake!

  37. Vicki Young says:

    Had a similar encounter with a 5ft black snake in one of my nest boxes that a hen had been brooding 8 eggs. I had just passed to make sure she had returned to her eggs is when I heard all the squabble!!! I had to look twice to see just what it was that she was having a fit over. When I saw it, with egg in mouth, I yelled too!!! Between my mom and I we removed the snake unharmed, put it in a trashcan with lid, and drove it down the road to an abandoned farm and let it loose. I know black snakes are good to have for rodent control and in keeping venomous snakes away, but not if they are going to eat my peeps, eggs and cause me to have more gray hair.

  38. chris says:

    I’ve had them all curled up and napping in the nest. Wife won’t go out to the coop due to the chances of finding one. Am building a new coop that will help eliminate this problem or at least make it very difficult for a snake to get into the coop. One time I had a shotgun with me, it did the job :-)

  39. Diane Webster says:

    Buy some Guineas. They will alert you of snakes and kill them

  40. Valerie says:

    Ugh! That’s why I don’t have chickens. :( I would love to have chickens, but I couldn’t handle the wildlife. You’re very brave!

  41. Barbara says:

    My Mom had a hen with a bite on the neck and 8 chicks and all were bit rite around the neck and one was missing?? Just wondering what yall think it was??

    • Patty P says:

      Possibly an escaped ferret.

    • Robbie H. says:

      Something got it: could be hawk;owl ; dog; coyote; possum;fox! skunks\coons usually kill\bite the head off the head off the chicken– then leave! You find headless corpse! Set up live trap to catch critter; cheap peanut butter & hot dogs make for good bait for live traps: offender can then be released somewhere else or shot & tested for rabies at vets clinic! If you shoot a coyote;fox; possum; raccoon: threat of rabies to you ends as soon as body is “cold”! While varmint body is still warm: threat of rabies is still there! Skunks; raccoons carry rabies most; armadillos (which have no “teeth”) carry LEPROSY Any wild critter that acts”friendly”\weird during daylight hours might just HAVE RABIES! Bats also carry rabies! Rattle snakes also love to EAT BATS!!! BE CAREFUL of rattlers NEAR CAVES!!!! Rob

      • Matthew says:

        Note: according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the rabies virus can stay alive for as little as a couple of hours or as long as several months, depending on outside temperature, with it staying alive longer in low temperature. For more information, see: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/32131.html

  42. Anna says:

    Is there any good way to PREVENT snakes from getting into your coop. I honestly might faint if I saw a snake. I despise snakes. *shiver*

    • Robbie H. says:

      Not all snakes R bad; most would just rather catch a Rat\Mouse & b on their way!Rat snakes will climb trees; get into coops\nests 2 eat birds(all types); they will also swim:eat frogs;turtles;sick\dying fish;eat water moccassins. Many R as afraid of U as U R of them! Rob

  43. Ryan says:

    Make sure you cut the heads completely off and throw them in a trash bag because they will reattach. Just a little hint from a fellow farmer. But YUCK a Hoe or Shovel is my weapon of choice lol.

  44. Tom Dukes says:

    I occasionally find a black snake swallowing an egg in the henhouse.They are harmless snakes and are natural enemies of pit vipers such as copperheads.I don’t mind losing an egg once in a while. I’ve always liked snakes and don’t kill them just because they are snakes. We have a rodent problem in the barn, and that’s where most of the black snakes are; they are here because this farm has a food source. They eat maybe once or twice a week. I’m sure this will ruffle some feathers but give snakes a break.

  45. Michele Keeley says:

    I just had to kill a black snake that was over 5ft long! It was hiding in the hay bales when two farm hands went to lift the bales they freaked! I had to go down with the .22 and take care of it or they refused to take the $200 worth of hay they bought. I shot it 3 times and hit it all 3 times before it finally died. Maybe I should have brought my hoe down and taken care of it in one clean swipe? I recently noticed a spot in the barn where one hen normally lays that had a broken egg in it without the egg shell though… maybe this was the reason why!

    • Darrell Atkins says:

      The Black snake is a farms best friend, put the snake back in the barn or relocate it. They are territorial, and keep copperheads and rattlers away. I have never had a egg eater. Rats are known to kill chicks and eat eggs. The snake is most likely hunting them. Do not just kill it. You really need to learn about the benefits of these great snakes. Most are not aggressive, but if someone was stepping on me or stabbing me, I would more than a little upset.

      • Robbie H. says:

        Rats & mice can carry Rabies; Plague; typhus;Cholera! Cats;Rat Snakes will help keep rodent population,down :-) Rob
        FYI: snakes have over 415 vertabre 2 protect–will b as afraid of U as U r of them :-)

  46. Regina Sayers says:

    Yuck !!!! I hate snakes. My son gets the eggs, if I had to do it and seen a snake, it could have the eggs, LOL They make me cringe to look at them !!!!

  47. Zach says:

    My friend relocates his snakes. He gets an empty feed bag and works the snake into it. It’s a pretty effective method if you don’t like killing animals. Just make sure you stay a safe distance away from it’s head and pin it down well.

  48. Karen says:

    We are going to put the smaller wire around the bottom of our pen to try and keep the larger snakes out. Right now we only have 3 week old chicks and have built a “chick hut” to keep them in inside of our larger coop. After reading the section on how to intoduce your new chicks we closed off an eight x six section of our coop, enclosed it with tin and the smaller wire on the bottom so that they can still socialize but not be pecked.

  49. Oh me oh my! Hate killing things but yeah…that’d have to be killed!! SCARY!

  50. Sue says:

    A hoe is my weapon of choice.

  51. Elaine says:

    Our egg count has been down for about 10 days. We didn’t know why until today, I found a 4 foot black snake in the chicken yard.

  52. Ande says:

    Holy cow!! I hope that doesn’t happen to me, but if it does I hope I handle it as rationally as you.

  53. Eric says:

    Reminds me of last year. We had four 6 foot snakes in the coop in 3 days. So far, nothing yet this year. Good luck with them!

  54. Patricia says:

    That is one of my biggest fears when I collect eggs.
    It hasn’t happened yet but I’m sure it will.

    Thanks for sharing.

  55. Jason says:

    My favorite kind of snakes!

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