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How to Keep Snakes Out of Your Chicken Coop: 9 Easy Tips

How to Keep Snakes Out of Your Chicken Coop: 9 Easy Tips

As a chicken keeper, nothing strikes fear into your heart quite like finding a snake in the chicken coop enclosure. These crafty predators can easily slither into coops and wreak havoc on your flock and eggs. But there are many effective ways you can fortify your coop and deter snakes to keep your chickens safe.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll share actionable tips for snake-proofing your chickens’ home. Let's get into it.

Key Takeaways

  • Make your coop impenetrable by using 1/4 inch hardware cloth, burying it underground, sealing gaps, and installing predator-proof doors and latches.
  • Deter snakes naturally by planting snake-repelling vegetation like mint and garlic and using strong scents like ammonia and mothballs.
  • Strategically install traps like funnel traps around the perimeter and glue boards inside to catch any snake invaders.
A snake approaching a chicken coop

    1. Make Your Coop Snake-Proof

    Stopping snakes before they ever gain access is the most failproof way to protect your chickens. Though no coop is 100% impenetrable, following these tips will fortify yours against all but the most determined serpents:

    Use 1/4 Inch Hardware Cloth for Walls and Floor

    Chicken wire seems sturdy, but it’s too flimsy to withstand snakes. They can easily push through or create gaps.

    1/4 inch hardware cloth is too small for snakes to squeeze through. Its rigid welded design also holds up to force. Use this material instead of chicken wire on coop walls, ceilings, doors - you name it.

    Bury Hardware Cloth 12-18 Inches Underground

    Crafty snakes burrow under walls and fences. Prevent this by burying hardware cloth 12-18 inches deep around the coop perimeter. This creates an underground barrier snakes can’t penetrate.

    Seal All Possible Entry Points

    Even a tiny gap gives snakes access, allowing them to squeeze through surprisingly small spaces.

    Walk your coop inside and out, sealing every possible entry point. Check doors, vents, openings around pipes or wires, gaps between walls, and hardware cloth seams. Use caulk, spray foam, or hardware cloth strips to plug holes.

    Snakes can sneak in through surprisingly small gaps. Refer to this table of common entry points and how to seal them:

    Entry Point How to Seal
    Gaps under doors Install door sweeps
    Openings around pipes/wiring Caulk openings
    Cracks in foundation Use expanding foam
    Loose hardware cloth Use wire or zip ties to secure
    Uncovered vents Attach 1/4" hardware cloth
    Between the roof and walls Seal with caulk

    Install an Apron Around the Run

    Fencing alone can’t keep snakes from climbing into a run. They’ll scale right over typical 4-foot heights.

    Sink an apron - a length of hardware cloth bent outward at a 90-degree angle - around the entire run perimeter. This creates an angled overhang that deters climbing.

    For older coops that lack snake-proofing features, investing in a newly upgraded chicken coop designed specifically to exclude snakes and other predators may be the most effective long-term solution.

    2. Clear Vegetation and Debris Around the Coop

    Even deterred from entering, snakes still lurk right outside looking for opportunities. Removing their cover makes the area less welcoming.

    Cut back tall grass, weeds, shrubs, and dense vegetation around the coop. Eliminate piles of wood, compost, or other debris a snake could hide under.

    Discourage rodents by keeping the area clean and free of chicken feed spills or other food scraps. The fewer mice and rats, the fewer snakes that will come sniffing around.

    3. Control Rodents That Attract Snakes

    Snakes slither after rodents, so your coop’s mice and rat population acts like an all-you-can-eat buffet sign for snakes. Controlling pests equals fewer snakes.

    Always store chicken feed in sealed metal containers. Never leave it in plastic bags or accessible containers. Pick up any spilled feed promptly.

    Remove sources of standing water like leaky hoses or full rain barrels. Eliminate other attractants like open compost piles and uneaten chicken food.

    Do routine coop cleanings to limit spiders and insects snakes feed on. Keep the coop and run areas free of debris piles.

    Using mousetraps and keeping a barn cat on patrol also helps control the rodent population.

    4. Use Snake Deterrents

    Certain plants, materials, and techniques actively drive snakes away, adding another layer of defense:

    Strategically Plant Snake-Repelling Vegetation

    Snakes dislike strong aromas. Plant marigolds, lemongrass, or mint around the coop perimeter. Interplant onions, garlic, and chives within the run. Concentrate these plants and materials near possible entry points.

    Create Barriers with Diatomaceous Earth

    Diatomaceous earth is made of tiny fossilized shells that cut into snake skin on contact.

    Line walkways and potential snake paths with this natural material. You can also sprinkle it around the base of the coop walls. The discomfort will discourage snakes.

    Install Drift Fencing

    Drift fencing guides snakes away from an area. Set up small L-shaped barriers that funnel snakes away from the coop. Point the ends outward from the coop.

    Apply Vibrations

    Snakes are sensitive to vibrations, so devices that create them are effective deterrents. Place multiple vibrating stakes around the coop perimeter.

    5. Install Snake Traps

    Traps give you the ability to capture snakes, removing the threat. Funnel traps around the exterior catch snakes focused on entry while glue boards on the interior catch any that make it inside.

    Use Funnel Traps Along the Perimeter

    Funnel or box-style snake traps lure snakes into a containment area. Bait the traps with rodents, eggs, or bird scent and set them along the coop perimeter.

    Check traps daily and release non-venomous snakes away from the coop. If a venomous species, have it professionally removed.

    Add Glue Boards Inside the Coop

    Unlikely as it sounds, you can catch snakes inside the coop with glue boards. The sticky surface traps snakes in place when they slither across.

    Position several glue boards along interior coop walls out of the way of chickens. Use rodent scents or a small piece of egg to lure snakes into the traps.

    6. Create Natural Snake Repellents

    Homemade snake repellents use the power of plants and compounds snakes hate to drive them away:

    Plant-based oils - Garlic, clove, eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, cinnamon, and citrus oils repel snakes when applied around the coop. Reapply oils after heavy rain.

    Garlic, onion, hot pepper - Mixing minced garlic, onion, and peppers with water creates a liquid repellent. Spray around entry points. Reapply after rain or every 2-3 days.

    Ammonia-soaked rags - The fumes from ammonia-soaked rags keep snakes at bay. Place these around potential snake entry areas. Re-soak every 2-3 days.

    Mothballs or rags - The naphthalene smell repels snakes. Scatter mothballs around the exterior or hang naphthalene-soaked rags. Replenish mothballs every 30-60 days.

    Sulfur powder - Sprinkled around the coop perimeter, sulfur powder emits an acrid smell that drives snakes away. Reapply after heavy rain.

    7. Get a Guard Animal

    Certain animals have strong snake-deterring instincts that provide a living alarm and defense system. Adding one of these guard animals boosts your coop’s anti-snake patrol.

    Guinea fowl - Loud, observant, and not afraid to mob predators, guineas are superior snake spotters. They sound the alarm at snakes and may even chase or attack.

    Geese - Territorial and protective, putting a few geese with your flock means you’ll have angry honking at the first sign of snakes. They can intimidate small serpents.

    Dogs - Dogs boasting high prey drive happily give chase and harass snakes, plus alert you with barking. Some dogs can even be trained to hunt and capture snakes.

    Different guard animals have pros and cons to consider. The following table compares them:

    Animal Pros Cons
    Guinea Fowl Loud alarm calls, mob predators Require shelter, prone to predation
    Geese Aggressive, intimidating hissing Need access to swimming water
    Dogs Deter with barking, can capture snakes Must be trained, can harass chickens

    9. Call a Professional If Needed

    Occasionally a snake infestation exceeds a chicken keeper’s DIY capacity. Snake problems around the coop continue despite your best efforts. One or more venomous snakes take up residence.

    In these scenarios, calling a professional may be your best resource. Wildlife control experts or pest management specialists have the tools and knowledge to handle severe snake infestations. They can:

    • Safely remove venomous snake species from your property.

    • Use infrared cameras to locate snake-hiding spots you can’t access.

    • Apply commercial-grade snake repellents to drive stubborn snakes away.

    • Trap numerous snakes in a short time with expertise most chicken keepers lack.

    • Block snakes from entering buildings as well as coops.

    While adding cost, hiring a pro can solve a stubborn snake situation and bring peace of mind. Invest in professional help if DIY snake deterrence fails.

    A rooster guarding a few eggs

    Conclusion

    While snakes may come around, these measures make your coop an inhospitable environment that protects your chickens and their eggs. Stay observant and don’t get discouraged. With your proactive efforts and refusal to become complacent, you can outsmart these crafty predators and keep your flock safe from harm.

    FAQs

    Why do snakes go to the chicken coop?

    Big chicken pens tend to be warm and offer food sources that are attractive to snakes. They are especially interested in chicken eggs and baby chicks. Some adult chickens, such as a dead chicken with a wet head, can also be tempting for many snakes, like rat snakes and black snakes.

    Will keeping the chicken eggs collected help keep snakes away?

    Yes, collecting eggs regularly reduces the temptation for snakes as they often eat chicken eggs. Fresh eggs are a major attractant for snakes, so the fewer eggs left unattended in the coop, the less reason for snakes to invade the chicken coop.

    If I keep the area around the chicken coop clean, will it help to keep snakes away?

    Yes, keeping the area around your coop clean is one of the best ways to keep snakes away from your backyard chicken coop build. This means removing food scraps, controlling rodent populations, and clearing away piles of wood or leaves which can provide shelter for snakes.

    How can I protect the baby chicks and eggs from snakes?

    To protect baby chicks and eggs, it's important to seal all potential entrance points with small gaps and remove eggs from the coop regularly. Keeping brooding hens in a separate, secure area can also protect them from snakes. Regularly inspect areas where predators might hide or gain access, and remember to close the coop securely at night.

    What should I do if I find a snake in the chicken coop?

    If you find a snake in the chicken coop, it is best not to kill it. Many snakes can be beneficial as they help control rodents. Instead, consider calling a local wildlife control or snake handler to safely remove and relocate it. Also, take the opportunity to identify how it got in, to avoid future invasions.

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    About The Author

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

    As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

    His main focus is on sheds and generators!

    In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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