Chickens will not keep away snakes, but a chicken coop might actually attract snakes. Most snakes prefer rodents, and chicken coops can be an excellent place to hunt for live rodents who live around chicken coops.
Additionally, many snakes eat chicken eggs and baby chicks.
While baby chicks might be killed by snakes, fully grown chickens can actually kill and eat small snakes. However, they do not go out of their way to do it. As such, they can’t be an effective deterrent against snakes.
A majority of snakes native to the USA are not large enough to consider chickens as viable prey. However, due to the increase in python population in states such as Florida, it is not uncommon to find snakes that feed on larger prey.
Can Chickens Keep away Snakes?
Chickens cannot serve as a long-term solution for your snake problem. They can only be a slight corrective solution at best. This is because chickens, unlike hawks, owls and crows do not primarily prey on snakes. Nonetheless, when threatened they can easily kill snakes and even eat them.
Below is some thought-provoking footage of a chickens entirely unafraid of a snake, carrying it around in its mouth:
Although a chicken will not instinctively fight a snake, a mature chicken can easily kill one. Killing snakes is common among chickens who want to protect their eggs or chicks.
Chicken are tough birds and can defend themselves when threatened. Therefore, when the presence of a snake threatens them, they will strike and kill the snake if it is not too big.
Supposedly, chicken killer instincts towards snakes were inherited from the Red Jungle Fowl from which they are domesticated. But unlike the guinea fowl, chickens mostly prefer to avoid confrontation with snakes unless provoked. Fowls, on the other hand, hate snakes, and if they spot one they will go to the extent of pursuing them. Guinea fowls will not stop at anything until the snake is dead and eaten.
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Similarly, chickens are wary of unwanted visitors, mainly predators, and will stop at nothing when provoked. Like the Guinea fowl, they will warn the entire flock and will all descend on the snake, as shown below:
Roosters are the most aggressive and fiercely protective of their flock. There have been instances where bold roosters have been seen fighting cobras. Roosters will chase snakes away from the flock while pecking it and picking it up, and the snake’s chance of surviving such an ordeal is minimal.
Roosters are instinctively equipped to fight off snakes through rapid pecking and quick evasive maneuvers. These characteristics make it hard for a snake to strike the rooster.
The maneuvering technique works to the rooster advantage as it wears off the snake. Once the snake is weak and exhausted, the rooster swallows it down or is torn into small pieces by other chickens as they fight for a portion of the exhausted snake.
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Are Chickens Afraid Of Snakes?
It is common for chickens to be scared by an unfamiliar intrusion, and snakes are no exemption. While some chickens might be afraid of snakes, others will be unafraid, as shown in the above footage.
Chickens are not entirely aggressive and will peck the snake for a little while before backing away. However, if a rooster is involved, it will not back off or be scared of the snake.
That said, chickens do fear snakes, and the most common scenario is that your chickens will not enter the coop when there is a predator inside.
Read More: Why Do Snakes Enter Chicken Coops?
The presence of a snakes stresses your chicken, and this can have adverse effects. Distressed chickens may fail to lay eggs.
The second effect of having snakes around your flock is the disappearance of chicks. Although snakes mainly hunt rodents, chicks are also an easy target for them.
Can Chickens Eat Snakes?
Chickens do occasionally eat snakes. Naturally, chickens are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything from worms, slugs, and even small snakes. Some of the most common garden snakes such as garter snakes are usually small. This makes them easy prey for chickens.
Even though chickens can kill and eat snakes, snakes are still a danger to your flock. Snakes also eat chicken eggs and chicks. Additionally, some snakes are extremely venomous and a single bite might be lethal.
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How to Protect Your Flock From Snakes
During the day, chickens can defend themselves and their chicks from most snakes. However, they are less alert during the night, and most snakes are very active during the night. So, it is essential to protect your chicken from snakes by taking various initiatives that deter snakes from accessing your chicken coop.
1. Keep the Coop Clean – Snakes are primarily attracted to rodents that frequent chicken coops. Thus, the first step to protecting your flock is keeping away rodents. Ensure that food is properly locked up and the chicken coop is clean.
2. Plant Lemongrass Trees – You can also try planting marigolds, peppermint, or lemongrass. The scent from these plants may repel most rodents as well as snakes. This is an anecdotal data point only, and evidence of whether snakes are repelled by these plants is not strong (see here for more on home snake repellents).
3. Clear Around the Coop – Another preventative measure is clearing bushes and grass around a chicken coop. Bushes and grass are good places for snakes to hide as they wait for their prey. Furthermore, if you have trees ensure that they are regularly pruned.
4. Add Guinea Fowls to your Flock – Guinea fowls hate snakes and will attack them any time they spot them.
5. Block Openings – Snakes access your chicken pens through cracks and holes. Therefore, you should block all openings that snakes can use.
6. Snake Repellents – Lastly, you can use commercially available snake repellants but ensure that they will not endanger your flock. If you choose to use snake repellents, we recommend contacting a pest control agency.
Read Also: Do Chickens Eat Their Babies?
Chickens are fierce and aggressive birds when threatened. They consider snakes as potential threats and may attack them when they see a snake. Furthermore, they can kill and eat snakes.
Snakes are a danger to your flock as they eat chicks and eggs. Therefore, it is essential to protect your flock against snakes by blocking all openings, clearing bushes, adding Guinea fowls to the yard, or using safe available snake repellants.
Joe is a freelance writer for FaunaFacts. Joe has written extensively about snakes for the site, but also contributes content about a range of animals.