Feedback On Dealing With Snakes & Chickens

Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

Feedback On Dealing With Snakes…

We had some great feedback and recommendations from last week’s newsletter regarding snakes so I wanted to pass some of it along to all of you. I hope you find it helpful…

“I live in rural southeastern Arizona. We have many, many snakes. Fortunately, we have had only a few Rattlesnakes near our house, but we have a lot of other snakes that could be dangerous to our chickens.

The best repellent that I know of is bird netting, stretched on the ground near the buildings. The snakes get very tangled up in the layers of bunched up bird netting. I check the netting at least twice a day. I carefully snip the plastic threads away from non-venomous and my husband shoots the rattlers.” ~ Joan Wakefield

“A reader in this issue asked for a “snake catching gizmo”. Here are a couple tricks us zookeepers use to catch snakes:

1. I don’t believe there are any snakes that can eat chicken eggs in Maryland…eating eggs is a specialized adaptation found in just a few snakes. Since the snakes may be in the hen house (especially if they are in the nest) more because they want the heat from the hens than anything else, provide a source of heat in a hiding location (a heating pad (on low) under an overturned rubbermaid tub with a couple entrances at ground level) nearby but out of the hen house, or at least out of the way, and you will get the benefit of the mouse eaters without them hanging out… but if they are used to the house, start in or very close and once they use the heat, move it further away in increments. Please be aware of fire hazards.

2. A snake trap that catches them alive is easy to make. Get a length of PVC pipe that is at least 4 inches in diameter…depending on size of snake…and at least as long as the snake you want to catch. Buy cheap funnels (for changing oil, or cooking, etc.) that have an outside diameter that cannot fit into the pipe. Cut enough off the small end of the funnel so that the snake could fit through it easily, but not much more. With duct tape, tape the funnels to the pipe so that the skinny ends are sticking into the inside of the pipe.

Lay the trap around the base boards or other places you think the snake will go. The snake will crawl in, but will not be intelligent enough to back up and lift its head to find its way back out. This is kind of like a lobster trap for snakes! Please check often so that you don’t sentence the snake to a slow death.” ~ Lesa Scheifele

“I use Snake-Away that I get at ACE Hardware and now I find it in most farm stores. Snake Away was invented by a researcher who found that the skin on a snake’s belly is extremely sensitive to a certain ‘feel’ and so that’s what’s in Snake Away and a snake WILL NOT CROSS A LINE OF THAT MATERIAL. Also, it’s safe for the hen’s.

The drawback is that if there is too much litter on the floor of the henhouse it so covers the feel of the product that snakes will cross it, so the henhouse floor must be kept free of litter. Also, the line must be sprinkled so as to eliminate access to the nest boxes.” ~ Yvonne (By the way Yvonne, we’ll be talking about brooding next week and I’ll try to address your question – WC)

“Hi Duncan and Wendy, I really enjoy your newsletter, and have passed it on! In reading this week’s newsletter, I looked at the question regarding snakes, and the comments on mice. An old farmer showed me a trick for mouse bait-which I guess would work for snake bait.

You use a 90mm or 3″ plastic pipe, have 2 lengths, and insert them either side of a ‘T’ piece with a screw on lid. Unscrew the lid, put in the bait and screw the lid back on. The mice and rats will walk through the pipe and eat the bait and leave, but your adult chickens cannot fit into the pipe to eat the bait.

You can put this inside or outside, as the bait will stay dry as long as the lid is on. One warning though, you have to be careful if you pick up the pipe as the bait will slide out the end. I always put a plastic bag around the end and then tip it up to clean out mouse dropping and sometimes dead mice.

The other most effective mouse trap I have found is one that is mesh wire on the outside and a cone of straight wires in the centre. The mice can climb in, but not out. The worst bit about it is the mice are still alive, so I dunk the whole trap in a deep enough bucket of water to drown them straight away. It doesn’t sound nice, but it is effective! I have caught 6 mice in this trap at once. Thanks,” ~ Jane, Melbourne, Australia

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  1. garden sulphur put on the ground around the pen will keep snakes away
    i had problem with snakes,did research and then used the sulphur
    i have not had snakes near chicken pen since
    the sulphur does nor bother the chickens,and the chickens ignore the suphur,
    any good feed store will have the sulphur

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