In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Will snakes kill chickens? We will give you 9+ ideas on how to keep the snakes away from the chicken coop. All the methods are natural and do not involve harming the snake intentionally in any way.
Will snakes kill chickens?
Large snakes will kill chickens, bite them or eat their eggs if they manage to get in the chicken coop. Although the best food source for any snake is rodents and not birds, hunger has priority, and the snake will not hesitate to feed on a live chicken.
If you have snakes around the chicken coop, this is a sign that you have rodents entering the coop and probably eating your chicken feed. Weasels are a type of rodent, but rather than eating chicken food as mice do, weasels can also attack and kill chickens.
You can make the snake work to your advantage. Snakes are natural predators and feed on rodents (mice, rats, and even weasels). Snakes also eat certain insects, such as cockroaches and slugs.
Check the deep bedding and rafters, as well as access to areas where snakes can enter the coop. If you see:
- Regurgitated eggshells: Snakes regurgitate compressed eggshells, without the yolk and rolled lengthwise into a cigar shape. If you see them, something scaly might be looking for an easy meal.
- Snakeskin: Snakes shed their skin. If you find a translucent, dry, scaly snake skin in your chicken coop, it is a sign of a snake that is way too comfortable in your pen.
- A chicken with a wet head, or a lumping chick. A wet head can be a sign of a snake that gave up but tried to eat one of your chickens.
What snakes are you likely to find in your hen house eating chicken eggs or preying on chicks? Typically, in the United States, king snakes, milk snakes, rat snakes, black snakes, and chicken snakes are the snakes most commonly found in chicken houses.
How to protect your chickens from snakes?
Substitute any one-inch chicken screen with hardware fabric. We screen our windows and doors using a 1/4-inch hardware cloth (wire, heavy-duty mesh is much stronger than chicken wire mesh) to keep out raccoons, weasels, and snakes to enter.
Check the gaps between the doors and install additional weatherstripping or door moldings so that there are no openings larger than a half-inch (and a quarter inch if you can).
Does your coop have a solid floor? If not, install a hardware cloth apron (sturdy wire mesh) to prevent snakes and other predators from burrowing into your coop and running away.
Rodent tightness: make the chicken coop less attractive to mice and rats. Less vermin means fewer potential meals for snakes, and therefore a less attractive hunting ground for snakes. Store chicken feed in rodent-proof containers and consider a foot-operated dispenser that chickens have to step on to access the feed.
Keep the areas around the coop clear and free of hiding places for snakes. Keep grass and bushes well-trimmed. Remove dead leaves and stacks of brushes and keep the outside area and outside track clear.
Snakes like to hide in the shelter (and so do mice). Don’t leave a convenient place near your chicken coop for mice and snakes! The fewer places to hide, the less attractive a chicken coop will be for vermin and snakes.
How to keep snakes out of your chicken coop
There are many natural snake repellent methods that allow you to get rid of snakes without harming them.
One of the most common snake repellants is naphthalene. It is found in some commercial products. To save money, you can use mothballs, as this is the main ingredient in them. I throw some on the porch to keep the snakes from hanging out there. Be aware that the smell of naphthalene is very pungent and can linger for weeks or even months.
Planting Citronella plants
It’s unclear exactly how citronella repels snakes, but it does. Plant it around the perimeter of your home or garage as a repellent for snakes. Lemongrass plans can get really big and look pretty good, so long as you go.
Like lemongrass, wormwood (from the genus Artemisia) can help keep snakes away. Also, keep an eye out for this plant, as it can spread quickly and colonize your garden quickly.
Adopt more birds
Snakes sometimes try to enter chicken coops for eggs. Chickens, along with guinea fowl and turkeys, will attack and kill snakes that enter the chicken coop. (Pigs will also attack snakes but it is more care and not convenient especially because of the odors).
Put down cups of essential oils
The essential oils of cinnamon, clove, and cedarwood will repel all snakes. My grandma always told me that snakes think the oils will melt the scales, so they stay away from them. True or false, I’m sure they help keep snakes at bay.
Fill the holes
Any hole, no matter how small, can be an invitation for a snake to enter your home. Fill the holes with a sealant (expanding foam type), concrete or a tiny mesh fabric or even a screen. Note that having holes is an invitation to snakes. Plugging the holes is naturally snake repellent!
Remove the hiding places
Anything near dwellings, such as mulch, shrubs, woodpiles, etc., can harbor snakes or their food sources. Cleaning up debris around homes and sheds can help prevent snakes from entering the home or garage.
Like many creatures, snakes don’t like garlic. Make a spray by chopping the garlic cloves and adding them to the oil. (Any oil will work.) Infuse the garlic in the oil for a few weeks then strain. Transfer the oil to a spray bottle and spray around the places where snakes may hide.
Much like essential oils, sulfur is disturbing to snakes and will discourage them from getting into places where it is used.
Spread sharp debris
Using sharp debris, like crushed coral or eggshells, can help keep snakes away – the latter don’t like texture.
What do snakes normally eat?
One of the most important aspects that we must know is their diet. All snakes are carnivorous, but depending on the species of snake that we have as a companion, we must offer it to eat some animals or others. Therefore, below, we are going to comment on the different groups of snakes according to their diet:
Mammal and Bird Eaters
The vast majority of snakes that can be kept as pets are from this group and feed on small mammals and birds. Although it depends on the size of the snake, they usually eat rats and mice, but they can also eat gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, quail, chickens, etc. Most of this type of snake accepts dead prey, pieces of meat, and specially prepared meals as well.
This group, in turn, can be divided into two subgroups:
- Small Snakes: Snakes and those that can be considered as small snakes, usually measure between 60cm and 140cm. Some of the best known are king snakes such as Lampropeltis Alterna, Lampropeltis Mexicana, Lampropeltis pyromelana, and Lampropeltis getula. Other also very common is the false corals Lampropeltis triangulum and the corn snakes or mouse traps Pantherophis guttatus.
- Boas and Pythons: They are the largest snakes, some specimens can exceed 8 meters although in captivity they do not usually exceed 5 meters. Besides, they are constrictors and they are also what most people look for as a pet. The best known are the Python regius, the Python molurus, and the Boa constrictor.
Eaters of lizards and other reptiles
These snakes are saprophagous, that is, they eat lizards, and coprophages, which eat other snakes. This type of snake is not very common as a pet and the only one that you can have is the Lampropeltis, which has also become used to eating mice.
Insect and arachnid eaters
The snakes of this group are insectivorous, that is, they feed on insects and also very diverse arachnids. Above all, they eat small grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, worms of various types, fly larvae, spiders, etc. They are snakes that, even though they are small in size, are not the most suitable for beginners.
Well, they need much more care than other snakes. Not many insectivorous species are traded. The most common that we can find to have as a pet is the Opheodrys aestivus aestivus or northern rough green snake.
The latter group of snakes is ichthyosaurs, so they feed on freshwater fish, whether alive or dead, such as goldfish, carp, guppies, and other small aquarium fish. They are one of the easiest species to keep and therefore are suitable for beginners. The most common in stores are the Thamnophis sirtalis, known as the garter snake or striped snake.
Now that we can identify what type of food our snake has, we will have to make sure that we provide it with the food that corresponds to it and not another because it will surely not eat it.
The bottom line
It is not that uncommon to see snakes around the chicken coop. Following our tips, you can either repel the snake or make it work to your advantage. Remember that even if the snake does not eat the chicken, it can bite it, and if it is a venomous snake, the chicken will need immediate treatment from a vet.
The bottom line if you want to keep your chickens safe from snakes is to check the deep bedding and rafters, as well as access to areas where snakes can enter the coop. Find the problem, remove the problem, and your chickens will be safe!
If you have any tips, comments, or questions on the content, please let us know!
FAQ on Will snakes kill chickens?
Do snakes eat chickens?
Most snakes do not eat chickens but look for their eggs. However, if they are hungry and there is no alternative, snakes can eat chickens or bite them.
How do I protect my chickens from snakes?
To protect your chickens from snakes you have to keep the outdoor area clean and free of possible hiding places. Check the gaps between the doors and install additional weatherstripping or door moldings so that there are no openings larger than a half-inch (and a quarter inch if you can).
Do black snakes kill chickens?
Black snakes can kill chickens, but they mostly eat their eggs or baby chicks. To keep the black snake far from the kitchen coop keep grass and bushes well-trimmed, remove dead leaves and stacks of brushes and keep the outside area and outside track clear.
Are snakes afraid of chickens?
Big snakes are not afraid of chickens, but if a small snake ends up in the kitchen coop and finds an angry chook, he better hide!
What smell do snakes hate?
Snakes hate the smell of cloves, cinnamon, garlic, lime, and onions. Make a spray by chopping the garlic cloves and adding them to the oil. (Any oil will work.) Infuse the garlic in the oil for a few weeks then strain.
What is the best animal to keep snakes away?
The best animal to keep snakes away are foxes, raccoons, and pigs. Also, guinea hens, turkeys, and cats are also known to be good at keeping snakes away.
PetMD – What Do Snakes Eat?
Animal Corner – Snake Characteristics
MSD Manual – Nutrition in snakes