Chickens are great animals to raise—they provide eggs, meat, and more chickens if you care for them properly. But natural predators like snakes are a massive threat to their eggs. So, how can you protect your chickens against these egg-eaters?
How to keep snakes out of the chicken coop? To keep snakes out of the chicken coop, you can buy a mesh-lined coop or make your own by closing all the holes and using chicken wire. Herbs like marigolds, lemongrass, and thyme also keep snakes away. However, the easiest way is to buy and use chemical repellents or special noise-emitting devices.
This article will tell you all about chicken-eating snakes, their eating habits, and what kind of snakes eat chicken eggs. Plus, a few methods for protecting, repelling, and also, building a snake-proof chicken coop. There’s a lot to talk about, so keep on reading!
Do Snakes Eat Chicken Eggs?
Snakes, especially smaller ones, usually eat small rodents such as rats or mice. But they also eat poultry eggs if they can get into your chicken coop.
Check for the following signs in your chicken coop to see if it’s happening in your case:
- Consistently fewer eggs.
- Pieces of regurgitated eggshell.
- A dead chicken with a wet head.
- Pieces of snakeskin.
If your eggs are missing and spot any of these signs, a snake is probably stealing your eggs. But before you get into ways to stop these animals from stealing eggs, take a look for some more about their dietary habits.
Why Do Snakes Eat Eggs?
Snakes generally don’t eat eggs unless they know they’re available. Usually, a snake finds a chicken coop while looking for shelter or chasing a small rodent. However, once it realizes where the eggs are laid, it’ll keep coming back for a consistent meal until you force it away.
Snakes eat eggs because they’re high in protein, and also, they’re not moving. These two facts make eggs an effortless snack for a snake who’s used to lying in wait and chasing mice and rats for food.
How Do Snakes Eat Chicken Eggs?
Snakes swallow eggs whole and crush the eggshell on the way down. They do this by releasing the bones in the back of their spine and opening their throat wide enough to swallow the entire egg. That way, they get all the protein they need from the egg yolk.
They then regurgitate the eggshell because they can’t digest it. If you find eggshells that look crushed and wet around your chicken coop, they’re most likely remnants of a snake’s visit.
What Snake Eats Chicken Eggs?
Many different snakes can eat chicken eggs. But smaller ones are more likely to do it because they can’t digest an entire chicken. If chickens get protective of their nests, snakes can still kill them.
So, if you find a dead chicken with a wet and slimy head, that means the snake tried to eat it but couldn’t get past the skull.
These are the snakes most likely to steal and eat chicken eggs:
- Black snakes
- Milk snakes
- Chicken snakes
- Garter snakes
- Night snakes
The last three on the list (pythons, copperheads, and cottonmouths) are larger species and have the brawn to eat entire chickens.
Look for regurgitated chicken bones or feathers. If a snake this large is after your chicken coop, proceed with caution — these snakes are dangerous to humans as well.
Do Brown Snakes Eat Chicken Eggs?
Brown snakes are too small to swallow chicken eggs. They live primarily off of small invertebrates such as worms or snails. If you have a few brown snakes around your yard, you don’t have to worry too much about your chickens. It’s more important to protect them from the larger breeds of snakes who do eat eggs.
The brown snake is one of the most common snakes in America. It’s native almost everywhere east of the Mississippi and can live in cities, towns, or the country. Brown snakes are prevalent and relatively harmless.
Do Chicken Coops Attract Snakes?
Chicken coops don’t necessarily attract snakes. Snakes find those cages most of the time because they’re chasing another small animal or looking for shelter from the heat. It’s only once they realize that eggs are readily available and easy to steal. So, they keep coming back to the roost.
However, chicks and chickens make noise, and that can bring a predator nearer. It’s also possible that the chicken feed attracts smaller snakes, who then eat eggs instead. If the chicken coop has shady areas or small holes that snakes could easily fit in, they’re more likely to stay around.
How to Keep Snakes Away From Chicken Coop?
If you’ve identified the loss of eggs to snakes or want to make sure snakes don’t get to your chickens in the future, there are several ways to keep your birds safe from predators. These range from smells that repel snakes to raising your chicken coop off the ground entirely.
Here are several ways to keep your chickens safe from snakes:
- Collect your eggs regularly.
- Remove any potential snake hiding spots.
- Raise your chicken coop off the ground.
- Protect your coop from above.
- Eliminate the rodent population.
- Clear the grass away from the edges of your coop.
- Fill in any holes or gaps in the sides of the coop.
- Make an apron out of chicken wire.
- Install motion sensors and lights.
- Use natural herbs to repel snakes.
- Secure the chickens’ food source.
- Use traps to catch the snakes.
- Invest in guinea fowl to eat the snakes.
- Call pest control if necessary.
What Will Keep Snakes Away From Chicken Coop?
If you can keep snakes away from your chicken coop in the first place, your chickens will be the safest. Raising the coop about a foot (12 inches) off the ground will prevent burrowing snakes from getting in from below.
If your coop is raised, you can then put snake traps at the bottom of it. Minnow traps are a great way to catch snakes without harming them, and if the traps are at the feet of your raised coop, the chickens won’t be able to step on them accidentally.
Reducing the rodent population is another excellent way to keep snakes away from your chicken coop. Use regular mouse traps or get a cat to help keep mice and rats to a minimum, and snakes will stay away. You can also cut the grass near the chicken coop, so they’re less likely to come close.
Yet, you need to combine the above tricks with one or more of the following methods:
Chicken Safe Snake Repellents
If you don’t mind paying for convenience, commercial snake repellents are the fastest solution when it comes to fighting off snakes. Here are a few options available on Amazon:
- Whemoalus Snake Repellent for Outdoors: Soaked in organic essential oils, these ball-like repellents are a strong barrier against all kinds of snakes. They can’t stand the odor and will pass by the coop if they smell it.
- No products found.: When planted in the ground, this little device emits a buzzing sound that’s intolerable for snakes. The good news is this deterrent doesn’t need a battery since it obtains power from its in-built solar panel.
No products found.
- Exterminators Choice Snake Defense Spray: A strong mix of essential oils, this spray guarantees to deter the most common types of snakes in your yard while remaining safe for pets and chickens. It also comes with a hose and sprayer head for easy application.
- Snake Repellent - Keep venomous and non-venomous snakes away from...
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Will Chicken Wire Keep Snakes Out?
Chicken wire works well to keep snakes out of the chicken coop, as long as it’s applied correctly. Snakes can get through holes less than an inch (2.54 centimeters) wide, so you can’t simply place chicken wire around the coop and trust that a snake isn’t going to get in.
The best way to keep snakes out with chicken wire is to pair it with hardware cloth and attach it around the edges of the coop in an “apron.” Attach the wire to the edge of the enclosure and tent it to the ground. The wire and hardware cloth combination should be flushed with the ground to prevent snakes from getting underneath it.
Natural Snake Repellent for Chicken Coops
If you want to keep snakes away without using harmful chemicals or traps, you can use herbs to repel them. Specifically, snakes don’t like the smell of marigolds, lemongrass, thyme, or rosemary. Although it won’t work perfectly, these scents will keep many snakes away.
Best Snake-Proof Chicken Coop
You can buy snake-proof chicken coops made with mesh and hardware cloth to keep snakes from entering at any angle. However, the best snake-proof chicken coop is one you make yourself that adjusts to the needs of your chickens and keeps the snakes from eating chicken eggs.
How to Build a Snake-Proof Chicken Coop?
A snake-proof chicken coop is remarkably similar to a regular chicken coop. If you’re building your own, make sure that the enclosure is lined with mesh or chicken wire and raise the cage six inches (15 centimeters) to a foot (30.5 centimeters) off the ground. Place your coop where there are no trees overhead or long grass nearby.
You can also use hardware cloth to close up any holes in the sides or bottom of the chicken coop. This will remove hiding spots that snakes could sneak through and take care of the rodent population. Add your chickens to the coop, and rest assured of their safety.
Once snakes find out that your chicken coop is easy to access and has free eggs, it’ll be hard to keep them out. However, with a snake-proof chicken coop and natural snake repellants, you’ll be able to protect your chickens and keep snakes away from them.