Contents: How To Keep Snakes Away From Chickens
How Do You Snake Proof a Chicken Coop?
If you’re trying to protect chicks, chickens, and eggs from snakes, the best practice is to ensure snakes can’t get inside your chicken coop and run in the first place!
here are some tips to snake-proof your chicken coop:
Snake-Proof Chicken Coop
Snakes can squeeze through the smallest gaps and holes. To protect your chickens from snakes, you never want any openings in your chicken coop and run that are larger than 1/4 inch.
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 cracks.
Block off vents with 1/4 inch hardware cloth (Amazon). But, only use a single layer of the hardware cloth! Your chickens need sufficient ventilation and light.
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.
Snake-Proof Nesting Boxes
It’s a good idea to collect the eggs regularly so the snakes aren’t tempted to get the eggs in the first place.
Keep your eggs locked securely. A nesting box with a lock is essential as large snakes can easily lift the lid to get to those eggs.
If you have raccoons in your area, you might as well get a padlock with a key, or a combination lock for your chicken coop doors and nesting boxes. My favorite way to lock raccoons out of the chicken coop is with a weatherproof, titanium lock (Amazon) and a hasp (Amazon).
It only takes one animal to dig under your chicken run or coop for the snakes to enjoy the tunnel. That’s why it’s a great idea to add a predator apron around your chicken coop.
Hands down, my favorite way to prevent animals from burrowing under my chicken coop is the predator apron system.
A predator apron is simply fencing material installed above the ground and runs along the perimeter of the chicken coop and enclosed run.
When an animal tries to dig underneath your coop, they’re not going to dig at the outskirts of the apron. They’re going to be digging as close as they can to the base of the coop where they’ll immediately run into the apron.
To see how you can quickly build a predator apron, watch the video below (or keep reading).
To make a predator apron, you’ll need:
- Fencing material (Amazon) that’s at least 24 inches in height
- Galvanized poultry staples (Amazon)
- Hammer (Amazon)
- Hog Rings & Hog Ring Plier (Amazon)
All you have to do is attach the fencing material to the bottom boards around the perimeter of the chicken coop by hammering in poultry staples.
I use galvanized poultry staples because they don’t rust like regular staples, and they’re strong enough to keep raccoons and other predators out.
Make sure to pay close attention to the corners where you attach the seams of the fencing material together. For some reason, raccoons love to start digging in the corners. So make 100% sure that the seams are securely attached.
To keep the seam secure, you can use hog rings and a hog ring plier to fasten the fencing material where it overlaps. There’s no way animals can rip the seam apart this way.
Snakes rely on a unique patch of sensory cells in its nose to interpret their surroundings. Snake-repellent granules (Amazon) temporarily block this important function, making the snake retreat immediately to a place without this deterrent in the air.
Natural snake-repellent granules can be safely used around people, pets, and plants when used as directed.
Also, snakes don’t like the scent of ammonia (and neither do most humans).
Placing ammonia-soaked rags around the edges of your yard can help deter snakes from coming into the yard, but it might irritate you and the neighbors as well.
Even though ammonia is a popular way for people to keep snakes out of the chicken coop, I personally do not recommend this. I can’t handle the smell!
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 placing a minnow trap (Amazon) wherever you keep finding snakes. Then, place an egg in the trap.
The snake gets in the trap through the small hole and drops down where the egg is. After eating the egg it cannot get back out. Once trapped, take the snake for a drive and release it far away from your house.
How Do You Keep Snakes Away Naturally?
Snakes really don’t like to travel in open spaces because they might become prey!
Tall and thick grass provides good shelter and hiding places for snakes. So regularly mow the grass in your yard and especially around your chicken coop.
If your garden is near the chicken coop, clear and remove debris where snakes could hide.
You can put up a snake-proof fence by burying mesh, like hardware cloth (Amazon), at least six inches deep around the perimeter of your garden.
Also remove all rocks, wood, leaves, brush piles, and other objects that are near the sides of your chicken 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.
Some people think that chickens attract snakes to their property. But it’s usually small rodents in your yard and coop, like rats and mice, that are sources of food for snakes.
Fewer rodents mean your yard will be a less attractive hunting spot for snakes.
Keep your property rodent-free by:
- Stop Feeding Rodents: Rodents will be attracted to chicken feed, treats, and water that you leave around your backyard. Store chicken feed in locking lid cans made out of galvanized steel (Amazon). Also, consider using treadle feeders (Amazon) to keep pests away.
- Clean Backyard: Rodents love backyards with plenty of covered hiding places. The fewer places to hide, the less attractive your yard and chicken coop will be for rodents. Keep your grass cut short, bushes trimmed, and your yard free of dead leaves and brush piles.
- Rat Traps: Set rat traps (my favorite is the AB Humane Animal Trap on Amazon). Just please be careful that any trap you use won’t hurt your chickens or chicks!
- Cats: Consider adopting a cat. It might not directly help with your snake issue, but it’ll love to hunt those pesky rodents.
Guinea fowl are good to keep with your free-ranging chickens during the day, as they will alert the flock if there are any predators around. And guinea fowl especially hate snakes.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need more than one guinea fowl as they are very social with their own species. Also, you’ll probably need a separate coop for your guinea fowl.
Can a Snake Eat a Chicken?
Most snakes are actually too small to cause any harm to adult chickens. Often, snakes are more of a danger to chicks and they’ll also eat the eggs.
But deaths and injuries still do happen, like when a snake tries to swallow the chicken by the head and gives up because the chicken is too big for it. Or, depending on where you live, certain venomous snakes can pose a threat to your flock.
Conclusion: How Do You Keep Snakes Away From Chickens?
Having only one method of keeping snakes away from your chicken coop is not ideal. Snakes are constantly finding new, effective ways to get to their prey, so it is important to have multiple layers of protection.
The first layer of protection should be a predator apron. This will deter predators from digging underneath the coop and snakes from traveling through the tunnels.
The second layer of protection is an expertly designed predator-proof chicken coop (Amazon), which is a secure enclosure that keeps chickens safe against all sorts of predators.
The third layer of protection should be to use hardware cloth instead of chicken wire. This will make it impossible for predators to access the inside of the coop through windows and vents.
Finally, another way to help protect your birds is to keep the coop clean and free of food scraps. A clean coop will help discourage rodents from taking up residence, which will attract snakes.
Having multiple layers of protection is the best way to keep your chickens safe from predators. With items like a snake-proof chicken coop, hardware cloth (Amazon), a predator apron, and snake-repellent granules (Amazon), I haven’t lost a chicken to snakes in over 20 years!