Snakes will steal eggs and can be dangerous to chickens, especially baby chicks. Learn how to keep snakes out of your chicken coop here.
There’s a Snake in my Coop!
One day I looked outside and saw my little flock of chickens all in a huff. They were pacing around their run, squawking as loud as they could.
I went outside and noticed that none of them were inside the coop. Nope, they were all still outside screeching at me to do something.
Chickens are noisy, but this was above and beyond the usual chirping. I knew that something was up.
I opened the side door to their coop slowly. I just had this weird feeling that there was something inside the coop that wasn’t supposed to be there.
Sure enough, in the corner, buried in the sawdust, was a BIG snake.
Where’s Billy the Exterminator when you need him?!
Are Snakes Dangerous To Chickens?
Yes, snakes can be dangerous to chickens. While most snakes will not be able to eat an adult chicken, there are some that can…and will…if given the opportunity.
For example, there are some snakes, such as rattlesnakes and coral snakes, that are venomous and can kill a chicken with a single bite. Constrictor snakes, such as pythons and boas, can kill a chicken by squeezing it to death.
Non-venomous snakes can also pose a threat to chickens. They can eat chicken eggs and baby chicks. Snakes can also stress out your flock, and a stressed out flock is not a healthy flock.
5 Ways To Keep Snakes Out Of A Chicken Coop
These are things that we personally do to keep snakes out of our coop. We have not had an issue with snakes ever since we implemented ALL of these strategies:
1 – Enclose the coop and run with hardware cloth.
My first coop (the one that snakes were able to infiltrate) was covered with chicken wire. The holes in poultry netting and chicken wire are wide enough that snakes can squeeze right through.
That’s just one of the issues with using chicken wire. It’s also not strong enough to keep out larger predators, which I learned the hard way. Read more about how to predator proof your chicken coop here.
Hardware cloth is a type of wire mesh that is too small for snakes to get through. It can be used to secure the bottom of the coop, as well as any vents or openings.
2 – Keep the coop and run clean and free of debris.
Snakes love to hide and nest in dark, cluttered areas. Keeping junk out of the coop and away from the perimeter gives the snakes nowhere to set up shop.
3 – Mow the area around the coop often.
Long grass and thick weeds give snakes cover to move about. They can easily scope out the coop and look for an entry point without you noticing!
Mowing the grass and removing weeds on a regular basis takes away the cover that snakes use and they won’t feel as comfortable approaching. This is also helpful for keeping out other yard pests.
4 – Use a snake repellent.
Snakes have a very well developed sense of smell, and they are repelled by strong odors, such as mothballs, ammonia, or predator urine. You can use these to create a barrier around the coop or around your backyard or any area you don’t want snakes to enter. My husband actually pees around the perimeter sometimes…sounds gross, but it helps!
There are also commercial snake repellents available. Be sure that anything you use is safe for use around chickens or any other pets or livestock that you have in the area.
5 – Use a guardian animal.
Dogs and cats are natural predators of snakes, and their presence can help to deter snakes from coming around.
Our chicken coop is inside our backyard fence, so we keep our dog in the yard all day long on watch. The presence of a larger animal, such as a dog or cat, is an effective snake deterrent. Our dog loves to patrol the perimeter and check on the flock throughout the day. She takes her job seriously!
If you’re wondering how we got snakes the first time with our dog, she was a puppy at the time and not old enough to be left on guard.
What Should You Do If You Find A Snake In Your Chicken Coop?
Ok here’s the thing. Snakes can be very dangerous, especially if you’re not familiar with them or used to handling them.
That being said, in an emergency when your flock is in danger, you sometimes have to take matters into your own hands.
If you know or suspect that the snake is venomous, the safest choice is to call in a professional. Whether it is a local snake expert or an exterminator, they will have the tools needed to handle a snake safely, such as snake tongs.
If you are able to move your flock or block off the area where the snake is, do that first. This can give you time to get someone who knows what they’re doing.
That’s what I legally have to tell you. And honestly, if it’s a venomous snake and you’re not comfortable dealing with it, your life is more important than your chickens.
If it is a non-venomous snake, you can probably handle it yourself.
If you have snake tongs and are experienced in using them, remove the snake and relocate it at least 20 yards away from the coop. Do not relocate the snake somewhere you don’t have permission to do so.
A shovel is another option. Generally I don’t advocate harming snakes. Especially non-venomous snakes like Rat Snakes or King Snakes, as these large snakes actually eat venomous snakes like Copperheads, as well as vermin like rats and mice. However, if a snake keeps returning to the coop, that’s not going to work either. Enough said.
More Tips For Raising Backyard Chickens:
- Guide to Raising Baby Chicks
- What is Pasty Butt in Baby Chicks?
- When Do Chickens Start Laying Eggs?
- How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs
- Is Free Ranging Better for Chickens?
- How Cold is Too Cold for Chickens to be Outside?
- Farm Fresh Eggs 101
- How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Heat
- How to Treat Bumblefoot in Chickens