Owning a flock of chickens comes with a range of considerations. Keeping them safe and healthy is one thing, but you also need to consider your property and the effect that these birds can have. But what about snakes? Does having chickens increase or even cause the likelihood of snakes; does this put you or your flock at risk? With these questions in mind, I decided to spend some time researching the topic. I would like to share my findings with you here today.
So, do chickens attract snakes? Chickens do not attract snakes by themselves. Snakes are mostly interested in catching and eating rodents, and preferably, while they are still alive. Chickens do not make the easiest meal for most snakes, so most snakes will not even attempt to take them on. However, snakes can be attracted to chicken eggs and baby chicks. Equally, leftover food can result in rats around the coop. This could therefore lead snakes to your chickens.
Unfortunately, the word ‘snake’ conjures up scary images of blood-thirsty venomous creatures, ready to devour anything that crosses its’ path.
The reality is that snakes usually just want to eat rodents. This is great news if you have a bit of a rodent infestation!
If you happen to keep chickens in your backyard, it’s understandable to feel uneasy at the thought of snakes nearby and the threat they could pose to your flock.
Snakes are generally an unexpected and unwanted guest. Specific poisonous snakes can even be deadly. Whether it is a dangerous snake, or a species much more ‘harmless’, it’s imperative that you do all you can to keep snakes away from your chickens. This will protect the eggs, chicks, the most vulnerable of chickens and of course you!
Let us now take a closer look at the relationship between chickens and snakes; whether chickens are scared of them and if a chicken may even attempt to eat one. We’ll also be covering how to keep snakes away from your coop so be sure to keep on reading!
Are Chickens Scared Of Snakes?
Chickens are usually fearful of any unfamiliar intrusion. As snakes look and sound menacing; it’s safe to say chickens can be scared of snakes.
However, chickens are tough birds and very good at defending themselves. A chicken may strike at a snake if she feels threatened, although it may take a few strikes to kill them if they were too.
If the snake manages to evade one bird’s quick-strike, it is unlikely to stand any chance against a flock of chickens, as chickens are animals that flock together for safety.
Chickens run very fast with their beaks; the speed these birds use should be enough to kill a snake.
One would think this posture should frighten snakes forever. The problem is that just because chickens can kill snakes, it doesn’t mean that they do.
The most common scenario is that these birds might peck for a little while before giving up. If you have an alpha among your flock, they are less likely to be scared of these slithering reptiles.
If you have a snake or any other predator in the coop, your flock may resist going into the coop, so do pay attention to your flock’s behavior.
With all this being said, having snakes around your flock is not ideal. You do not want your birds to be any unnecessary stress. Therefore it is important to keep snakes at bay, and to give your birds the most comfortable living environment as possible.
Do Chickens Eat Snakes?
As far fetched as it seems, chickens can eat snakes. A small sized snake doesn’t stand a chance against a voracious feathered flock.
It is not unheard of for these birds to swallow a small snake whole, just like spaghetti! A small snake to a chicken, may even be seen as a more challenging worm.
Even though some plucky birds can defend themselves from snakes and even eat snakes, these reptiles are still a menace to your flock.
Snakes go after the eggs and the chicks. If the eggs are left unattended, they become free food; and may be one of the most nutritious opens available to a snake scavenging for food as a means of survival.
Aside from the threat to the eggs, snakes in the coop are a threat to you, as a snake will strike at you as you collect the eggs.
Signs You Could Have Snakes In The Coop
There are usually a number of tell-tale signs that you have a snake in your chicken coop. Here are the main ones:
- Missing or Less Eggs, especially if they appear to stop quickly. This could mean a snake is getting into the coop and eating them. Just be sure to remember and to not confuse that a lower egg production is expected in the fall and winter seasons.
- Regurgitated Eggshells, where the yolk and content of the egg has been consumed. This is because snakes will look to get rid of the eggshell once they have got the nutrition found inside. A regurgitated shell is generally compressed and in a curled shape.
- Snake skins, as snakes shed and remove their regularly skin. This is of course a clear sign they have been in the coop.
How Do I Keep Snakes Away From My Chicken Coop?
Prevention is better than cure, so the best thing you can do is to keep snakes away from your coop in the first place.
The best way to keep snakes away from your chicken coop is to limit the ways they can enter – you must make sure that there are no holes larger than .5 inches in the coop.
You must also remove all the things that attract snakes to your property.
Here is a list of other things you can do to keep snakes away.
- Protect the eggs by making sure that your flock is up off the ground; this helps keep other pests at bay, not just snakes. Collect the eggs daily and never leave them in the nesting boxes overnight. Build nesting boxes high off the ground and make sure that they are climb proof, you can easily mount them on a wall.
- Collect the eggs as often as possible. No eggs in the nesting box means that snakes have no reason to be in the coop. While food smells entice snakes. The regular presence of a human is less appealing for a reptile that doesn’t want confrontation.
- Mow the lawn regularly. Snakes like to slither about their business unseen, keeping the grass short makes out harder for them to be inconspicuous.
- Protect your chicks as they are helpless. Eating chicks are no problem to a sneaky snake; many owners choose to raise their chicks in a garage brooder. As the chicks are within earshot, any unwanted visitor will be met with a human’s presence, not desirable for a shy reptile such as a snake.
- Control your rodent population as snakes and rodents go hand. If you have a lot of rodents on your property, chances are you will have a lot of snakes on your property, especially as snakes like to eat rodents.
- Consider getting a cat who will proactively hunt rodents and will even kill snakes. This is a great strategy as you are reducing two unwanted visitors all at one. However, be sure to keep your cat away from your chickens. While they are unlikely to attack the older birds, they may go for the chicks.
- Consider electronic snake repellents that you can easily install around your property. These will send an electronic signal or ultrasonic vibration that will keep snakes away. These solar powered ones from Amazon have fantastic reviews and appear to be particularly effective at safely repelling snakes and rodents!
Chickens can attract rats in a similar way to how snakes can come onto the scene. In the hunt for food!
Mice and rats will eat poultry feed, so the more you feed your flock, the more you are supplying food to these unwanted vermin and the creatures that eat the rodents.
It’s a vicious cycle that requires the regular disposal of all food waste, especially the feed that has fallen to the ground of the coop.
If your snake situation gets out of hand, you can hire a professional to take care of it. Snakes are naturally territorial creatures, and the fully grown snakes will only breed, continuing to increase the snake population.
A professional snake remover won’t kill the snakes but instead will capture and relocate to a more suitable area.
You will find that most chickens are scared of snakes and for a good reason, as snakes can be deadly.
It’s useful to know the characteristics of snakes as even though they can be dangerous, the vast majority of them are only out to hunt and eat rats and mice.
If you live in a hot climate and you have to deal with rodents from time to time, chances are you will encounter snakes every so often.
Cleanliness is crucial to keeping your chickens safe, as non-removal of uneaten feed attracts rodents, which naturally attracts snakes and other wildlife that like to consume rodents.
Many chickens are tough birds and excellent at looking after themselves as well as their fellow flock mates; never-the-less, snakes can be overwhelming to deal with, and you will need to take serious measures to keep the most fragile of your flock safe.
Will a chicken kill a snake? Chickens are capable of killing a snake, however, they will not attempt to do so unless they feel threatened. If a chicken was to kill a snake, it would be after some time and unlikely to occur after one strike.
Do chickens attract rats? Chickens do not attract rats by themselves. However, poor hygiene can lead rats to your coop. Leftover food and scraps is sought out by all rodents, including rats, whom have a keen sense of smell. They scavenge for any loose food. Therefore, as a chicken keeper you need to ensure you remove any uneaten food promptly, install proper chicken feeders and do not leave any eggs lying around and available for too long once they have been laid.