8 Easy Ways to Deter Rat Snakes from Your Chickens


A rat snake slithering on the ground


Ever had one of those moments where you're woken up in the middle of the night to find a slithering rat snake eyeing your chicken coop?

Yeah, it's not something we'd like. But let's face it. These sneaky, egg-loving snakes aren't looking for a warm invite. They're here for a quick, tasty treat!

This article gives you the lowdown on these sly serpents and shares top strategies to snake-proof your chicken coop. 

Why Is Snake Prevention Essential?

These long, slithery critters are known for stealing eggs and causing a commotion among your chickens.

Although rat snakes aren't dangerous since they're not venomous, they can cause problems - especially if your flock lays eggs. 

Losing eggs daily to these sly snakes is frustrating and upsetting for your hardworking hens. After all, they put in the effort to make those eggs!

So, it's not about being unfriendly to other creatures; it's about looking after our lovely hens and their prized eggs.

 When we learn about rat snakes and take action, we can keep our chickens and their valuable eggs safe.

Get to Know Rat Snakes

Rat Snake Behavior

Rat snakes are crafty crawlers known for their love of eggs - an unfortunate truth for chicken keepers. 

These snakes are pretty intelligent and sneaky; they can get into small holes and are expert climbers, too.

Another thing to know is that rat snakes are more active in warmer seasons. 

So, the months of spring and summer demand a little extra vigilance.

Types of Rat Snakes

There are several types of rat snakes, each with their unique characteristics:

  • Black Rat Snake: The most common crawler around chicken coops. They bear intimidating black scales that can grow up to 8 feet long!

  • Texas Rat Snake: These are one of North America's most extensive varieties of rat snakes. They are quick, aggressive, and can be yellow, grey, or brown.

  • Yellow Rat Snake: These snakes are primarily found in the southeastern United States. Yellow Rat Snakes are - you guessed it - yellow with four stripes running down their bodies.

  • Gray (or White Oak) Rat Snake: A slippery character often found in the eastern and southern United States, they are gray with darker gray or brown blotches.

A chicken snake curling up on a branch showing its tongue


How to Keep Rat Snakes Away from Chickens

So, how do we snake-proof our chicken coop? 8 Ways!

1. Maintain Cleanliness Around the Coop

Cleanliness is next to chicken-ness! Keeping your coop and surrounding areas clean is vital in deterring unwanted snake visitors. 

A snake will seek out places where it can hide or find food. A snake will seek out places where it can hide or find food.

Start by removing potential hiding spots. This includes tall grass, overgrown brush, wood piles, and accumulated junk near your coop. These are all places that snakes can slither into and feel safe. 

By maintaining a tidy, open space around your chicken coop, snakes will feel exposed and less likely to lurk around.

Ensure that food sources are reduced. Fallen fruit or spilled chicken feed can attract rodents. Snakes eat rodents, so your coop can become an accidental dine-out spot for them! 

Regularly clean up food spills and keep the area free from any other potential food for snakes, effectively reducing their interest in your chicken coop.

2. Close All Small Holes and Cracks

Snakes can squeeze through tiny gaps and holes we might not see. To keep your chickens safe, check the chicken coop carefully.

 Look for any small holes, spaces, or cracks. These could be at the bottom of the pen, between the wires, on the top, or near doors and windows.

When you find these holes, close them up! Wire mesh is an excellent thing to use here. Ensure the holes in the wire are small enough to stop skinny snakes. About a half-inch should work.

3. Utilize Snake Repellents

The use of snake repellents can prevent snakes from entering your chicken coop. They're sold in stores in forms like sprays, granules, or devices. These work by creating smells or vibrations that snakes don't like.

Here are three common types of snake repellents:

  • Granular Snake Repellents. Granular snake repellents are often infused with a scent that snakes find offensive or frightening, such as sulfur or predator urine. Once applied, snakes will likely avoid the area, courtesy of the disturbing smell.

  • Spray Snake Repellents: This type of repellent is sprayed around the perimeter of the chicken coop or potential entry points. It works similarly to granular repellents by releasing a scent that deters snakes. Their main advantage is that they are often easier to use and can be applied more precisely to specific areas.

  • Ultrasonic Snake Repellent Devices: These devices use vibrations or ultrasound frequencies to create an area of discomfort for the snakes. Snakes are sensitive to ground vibrations, so the vibrations emitted by these devices dissuade snakes from getting too close.

Each of these has its advantages and effectiveness in keeping snakes at bay. 

However, always ensure that any product is safe for your chickens and pets. Read and adhere to the package instructions for optimal results.

4. Install Snake-proof Fencing

A fence makes a barrier that snakes can't pass. The fence should be made from a thin wire mesh. The holes in the mesh should be small - less than ¼ inch, so even little snakes can't get through.

To work best, the fence must go into the ground and be about 30 inches tall. This stops snakes from going under or over it.

For extra safety, bend the top of the fence outwards. This makes it harder for snakes to climb over.

5. Check Nest Boxes and Coop Ground Before Closing Up for the Night

One simple yet effective way to prevent snakes from hiding in your chicken coop is by checking the nesting boxes and the coop floor every night before locking up.

 Snakes, including rat snakes, are known for their impressive hiding skills. They may select secluded spots provided by nesting boxes or seek refuge under debris on the floor.

A thorough inspection at night can help identify any snakes that might have entered the coop during the day. 

Ensure you carefully search in corners, under bedding materials, and within the nesting boxes. Properly secure your coop once you're confident there are no snakes inside. 

By doing this regularly, you can protect your chickens from potential harm and avoid unpleasant surprises.

Two chickens roosting in their own nest boxes


6. Regularly Collect Eggs

Eggs are not only a precious resource for us but are also enticing snacks for snakes. Collecting eggs frequently ensures snakes have one less reason to approach your chicken coop.

Make it a habit to gather eggs daily or at least every other day. Doing so will minimize the chance of snakes being attracted to your coop for an easy meal. 

This regular collection of eggs also gives your chickens a consistently clean environment to lay their eggs.


7. Monitor Rat Snake Populations

Regularly monitoring rat snake populations in your area can help you identify potential risks early. You can do this by reading local pest reports or talking to a pest control professional about the prevalence of rat snakes in your region.

Remember, if you find a rat snake near your chicken coop, it's crucial not to kill it. Despite their pesky behavior, these snakes are beneficial for keeping down rodent populations. Instead, consider rehoming the snake a safe distance away from your coop.

Given their liking for chickens, eggs, and rodents, managing rat snakes becomes essential to maintaining a secure, snake-free chicken coop.

8. Get a Guinea Fowl

A guinea fowl could be an exciting and practical addition to your strategy to keep snakes away from your chicken coop. 

Guinea fowls are known for their loud alarm calls and aggressive nature when spotting predators, including snakes.

These birds can be an excellent early warning system if a snake is near. Their loud calls will alert you about the predator's presence.

Not only that, but guinea fowls can also directly deter snakes. Their aggressive behavior can intimidate smaller snake species.

However, remember that having a guinea fowl is also a responsibility. 

These are animals that need proper care and attention. Only consider this option if you can fully commit to caring for them.


A flock of Guinea fowls walking around the field

Final Word

This guide explored several methods for protecting your chicken coop from rat snakes and other snake species.

  • Maintaining cleanliness: A clean environment reduces food sources and hiding spots for snakes.
  • Sealing off entry points: A critical step in ensuring that snakes do not find an easy route into the coop.
  • Snake repellents are easy to use, but always remember to opt for non-toxic varieties.
  • Check nest boxes and coop ground: A thorough inspection at night can help identify any snakes that might have entered the coop during the day.
  • Installing a snake-proof fence: An effective physical barrier to keep snakes out.
  • Regular egg collection: Reduces the fascination of your coop for snakes looking for an easy meal.
  • Monitoring rat snake populations: Helps you stay aware of possible threats.
  • Getting a Guinea Fowl: A fun and natural way to deter snakes.

We encourage you to implement these strategies for keeping snakes at bay. 

Every environment is unique, and combining these methods will likely offer the best protection for your chickens.

In addition to the tips shared, consider implementing a layered approach to protection by using Bird Netting

This Ultimate Tangle-free Chicken Coop Netting is an additional physical barrier for your chicken coop and helps keep other predators at bay.

It's lightweight, easy to install, and offers another layer of safety, ensuring peace of mind.

We'd also love to hear about your experiences if you've tried these or other methods. Your input can help others facing similar snake problems. Share your story in the comments below!

Thank you for reading, and here's to a safe and secure chicken coop! 🐔

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