Most snakes are too small to be predators of adult chickens. But deaths and injuries still do happen!
Instead, snakes tend to be predators of eggs and young chicks. And if I’m going to take the time and money to raise chickens, I’m not going to be willing to feed them to snakes!
So here are some tips on what to do if you spot snakes around your backyard chickens.
Keep Rodents Away
Some people think that chickens attract snakes to their property. But it’s usually small rodents, like rats and mice, that makes your yard and chicken coop an attractive hunting spot for snakes.
Fewer rodents means your yard will be a less attractive hunting spot for snakes.
Keep your property rodent-free by:
- Storing chicken feed in rodent-proof containers, and consider a treadle feeder that the chickens have to step on in order to get food.
- Snakes and rodents like places they can hide in. So don’t leave a convenient hiding place near your chicken coop! The fewer places there are to hide, the less attractive your yard and chicken coop will be for rodents and snakes. Keep grass cut, bushes trimmed, and your yard free of dead leaves and brush piles.
- Set rat traps (my favorite is the AB Human Animal Trap on Amazon). Just please be careful that any trap you use won’t hurt your chickens.
Chicken Coop Security
The best practice is to make sure snakes can’t get inside of your chicken coop and run in the first place. So I made a small checklist of things the coop really needs.
If you’re not an expert woodworker (like me) but you’re still thinking of building your own coop and run (it’s really not that hard!), you might want to check out my favorite do-it-yourself chicken coop eBook called “Building a Chicken Coop“. You’ll save tons of money and your coop will most likely be of higher quality than a store-bought one.
No Gaps or Holes
Even large snakes can squeeze through the smallest gaps and holes. You don’t want any openings that are larger than a 1/4 inch. So you need to find every place where a snake could come in the coop.
Make sure to add weather stripping or additional molding to door gaps. And check over the entire coop, from top to bottom, for any holes or gaps. You need to cover these with hardware cloth (my favorite hardware cloth is the Gilbert & Bennett YARDGARD on Amazon).
I don’t use chicken wire because snakes can slip right through it. Plus, other predators can easily tear through it too. For coop security, chicken wire is just a bad idea. It’s more for keeping your chickens in than keeping predators out.
I really recommend you replace any chicken wire with 1/4 inch hardware cloth because it really works to keep snakes and other predators out.
I also added hardware cloth over the ventilation holes. But if you are thinking of doing the same, don’t use too much hardware cloth! Your chickens need sufficient ventilation and light.
Protect Your Nesting Boxes
Keep your eggs locked securely. A nesting box with a latch is essential as large snakes can easily lift the lid to get to those eggs.
Collect the eggs regularly so the snakes aren’t tempted to get the eggs in the first place.
Check Inside the Coop
Keep in mind that if you leave your doors wide open during the day, a snake can easily get in that way. If you have a problem with snakes, check inside the coop before your chickens go inside.
You can also create a coop apron for keeping snakes and other predators out of a chicken coop. It only takes one animal to dig under your chicken run or coop for the snakes to enjoy the tunnel.
If you don’t know what a coop apron is, definitely watch the video below!
What you need:
- Fencing material (I bought my fencing wire on Amazon)
- Staple gun and staples, like the Topec 3 in 1 Manual Nail Gun with 1800 Staples
Snakes really don’t like to travel in open spaces because they might become the prey! Tall and thick grass provides good shelter and hiding places for snakes. So regularly mow the grass in your yard and around your chicken coop.
Also remove all rocks, wood, leaves, brush piles, and other objects that are near the sides of your chicken coop. By doing this the snakes will not find easily find a place to hide near the coop.
Snakes are very good at climbing trees. So cut down tree branches or anything that could help the snakes from getting into the chicken coop from above.
You might also want to plant west Indian lemongrass, marigolds, and mother-in-laws tongue in your yard because they naturally repel snakes.
Guinea fowl are good to keep with your chickens as they will alert for any predator, but they especially hate snakes.
Consider adopting a cat. It might not directly help with your snake issue, but it’ll love to hunt those pesky rodents.
Snake traps can be a great way to get rid of snakes if you’re not scared of them and you’re positive their not going to hurt you.
There are some glue snake traps, but I prefer a more humane way of trapping anything, including snakes. Try a minnow trap inside the coop or wherever you keep finding that snake. Then, place an egg in the trap. Voila! A humane trap.
The snake gets in the trap through the small hole and drops down to where the egg is. After eating the egg it cannot get back out. Once trapped, take the snake for a drive (or a really long walk) and release it far away from your house.
If you are going to use some type of trap, make sure you check it daily.
A natural snake deterrent, that can be used around people, pets and plants, is called Snake Shield.
Snakes rely on a unique patch of sensory cells in its nose to interpret its surroundings. Snake Shield temporarily blocks this important function, making the snake retreat immediately to a place without this deterrent in the air.
Very small snakes won’t even be a danger to your eggs, but may primarily eat insects, worms, tadpoles, minnows, salamanders, slugs, or tiny frogs.
The smallest snakes are probably more in danger from your chickens than a danger to your chickens. Your chickens will likely hunt and eat small racers and garters, and may even regard them as a special treat.