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Expert tips and tricks for backyard chicken keeping

How to snake-proof the chicken coop

How to.., Pests

Signs you may have a snake around:

  1. You find regurgitated eggshells or snakeskin.
  2. There’s a dead chicken with a wet head. This is a sign that a snake tried eating the chicken but couldn’t swallow it.
  3. Chicks or chickens missing

Snakes come into the coop for only three reasons:

  1. Feed. The snakes are after either the eggs, the chickens, or the rodents that chickens sometimes attract.
  2. Water. Yes, snakes need water as well.
  3. Warmth, shade, or shelter. Chicken coops tend to be warm and dry. They also provide shelter and shade in the heat of the day.

Some people think that chickens attract snakes to their property, but in actual fact snakes come hot on the tail of rodents.

Keep your property rodent-free by:

  • Safely securing your chicken feed in a treadle feeder or chicken feeder
  • Clearing any brush, or other objects near the coop where vermin could hide
  • Setting rat traps (though be careful that they are safely away from your chickens)

On the one hand, snakes help reduce the number of egg-stealing rats and mice but on the other are also partial to chicken eggs or young chickens (and on rare occasions adult chickens) as well.

Snake Proofing the Coop

  • Snakes can slither through quite small spaces so you need to make sure your coop is covered with wire mesh with holes no larger than 10mm.
  • Keep your eggs locked securely – a nesting box with a latch is essential as large snakes can easily lift the lid. Better yet, collect eggs regularly to make sure there’s nothing to tempt them to begin with!
  • Remove hiding spotsOpen spaces expose snakes to predators like hawks and owls. If you take away hiding spots around the outside of the chicken coop, chances are they’ll leave your flock alone. Keep grass cut short, trim bushes, and remove woodpiles.
  • Invest in a snake-proof chicken coop. If you’re looking to upgrade, a snake-proof chicken coop has tightly woven mesh walls to keep your flock in and snakes out.
  • Use natural remediesThe aroma of some plants, like marigolds, lemongrass, rosemary, and thyme, may help repel a snake in the chicken coop. This method isn’t fool-proof, but it’s a good step to take alongside other precautions.
  • Keep guinea fowl. Guinea fowl look like a chicken-turkey hybrid. They’ll warn your flock of a nearby snake and scare the predator away. Guinea fowl can get aggressive, and it’s best to introduce them as chicks so they’ll get used to being around chickens.

If you do find a snake on your property, call your local wildlife office and ask them to send someone over. Handling a snake without training is dangerous, and most people are bitten attempting to remove or kill a snake.

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