Ok so is this a terrible idea. Today, my wife found this snake living under the coop. Will try to get a better pic, but I am guessing it is a king snake, it had no pits or rattle. So let's assume for now it's a king snake. I was going to remove it, but then I thought, wait a minute, yes they eat eggs, but they don't eat chickens..at least I don't think they do. But they also would potentially keep away a host of other critters, squirells, mice, weasels, even other snakes. And how many eggs could he possibly eat.. one a day. Is this a dumb idea? Thanks
I like your snake and the questions you asked.
I, personally, would leave it alone. It'll do snake things and will eat what it can fit in it's mouth, but if you are willing to live with that, it will be a good helper around your household.
A lot of my laissez-faire attitude comes from a misspent youth, some from a championing of critters that do no harm and need places to live, and some because I just really like snakes.
On our property we have 2 indigo racers, at least one good sized hognose, an earth snake, and a gorgeous Texas Red Rat snake. I know these snakes because I'll spot them around the yard, or in the well house. The Earth Snake was in today, probably getting ready for a skin shedding.
They eat the rodents that move in, don't stink, and are pleasant enough company. My chickens are spoiled (enough so they don't chase the rodents), so the snakes help out.
What you ultimately decide to do depends on your personal feelings about snakes, and about wildlife in general. All I ask is, please keep us updated about the snake's presence and activity, and do what you think, long term, is best for you and your friends and family.
Best thoughts! From the Imaginary Rescue Aide Society, or The Brotherhood of Wildlife Friendly People (we need a new name for our imaginary group!)
"No one has been traumatized by a chicken or tried to lick something they shouldn't or attempted to eat packing peanuts so I consider it a win. Also since starting at this job I've had air conditioning every day, nothing has burned down, and nobody has been bayonetted so I consider it a step up from the last one"
- Catherine Dobbs on describing her day
Chickens can’t drive off a large black snake. I have a 6’ black snake that makes regular visits to my hen house, eating up to 8 eggs at a time and can even eat the eggs out from under a brooding hen. But black snakes eat poisonous snakes do I’ll tolerate it’s occasional egg theft.
I haven't ever considered allowing a snake to stay. I'll usually relocate them. That said, a rat snake wrapped itself around a post on the front porch last week at a high rate of speed after I caught it in the aviary with a cockatiel inside it. The aviary was snake proof until the chickens dug a dust bathing hole on one side of the aviary wall, while the small group of quail that maintain the aviary, dug holes for laying eggs against the wall from the other side, leaving a small hole, just large enough for a snake to get through to make a meal of my cockatiels. Snakes don't bother me around the chickens, as I won't miss an egg it two and they'll never be able to eat the chickens, but I draw the line at my tiels.
Not so much about chickens, unless you count my mom. When my newly wed parents moved to the Florida pan handle they lived in a house raised on blocks, maybe to avoid the gaters?
One of the things my father did to earn money was to catch rattle snakes and sell the skins. (Apologies to the wildlife group noted above.) Early on he brought home a large king snake to keep other snakes out of the house, kind of a guard snake that also kept the house rodent free. My mother said that she got used to having it around but had to learn to watch her step.
I would like to have such a snake under my chicken coop. I have a niece who is a herpetologist. She advised putting additional rock around the coop and a pan of water. Welcome snake!
Each generation has its own rendezvous with the land... by choice or by default we will carve out a land legacy for our heirs. (Stewart Udall)
Willie Smits: Village Based Permaculture Approaches in Indonesia (video)