Do Chickens Kill Snakes? Can They Keep Them Away?

small chick and snake

If you happen to live in an area of the world where snakes are common, you may be worried that your chickens are going to end up as one’s dinner. Chickens are not exactly the most willing birds when it comes to defending themselves against predators, but snakes are sometimes a different story. Do chickens kill snakes? They certainly can, though chickens are much less interested in hunting and tracking down snakes. In fact, an unsuspecting snake may slither straight into a chicken coop before your chickens decide to attack it.

Here is what you need to know about chickens and snakes, including how to keep snakes away from your chickens, chicks, and eggs.

Do Chickens Kill Snakes?

Yes, chickens will kill snakes if they feel threatened by it. This means that if a snake is preying on a chicken’s eggs or chicks, the hen will attempt to kill the snake before the snake kills a member of the flock. Chickens kill snakes by pecking them to death. For this reason, smaller snakes rarely cross the path of the chicken, because they know that chickens will immediately see them and hunt them down if they get too close.

Larger snakes that dwarf your hens or rooster are going to be much more bold, because these snakes are fully aware of their size and power. In this case, your chickens may be unable to inflict enough damage to kill a large snake.

Do Roosters Kill Snakes?

More than hens, roosters are extremely aggressive towards snakes of any size. Should something as threatening as a snake come near the flock, the rooster will not hesitate to attack. They are often more than capable of fiercely attacking and maiming even the deadliest of serpents. But what about venomous snakes? Even these lethal predators will find it challenging to pin down a rooster long enough to hurt him. Roosters have evolved throughout the centuries to be agile and quick. Should a snake attack a rooster, the bird will bob, weave, and dart into for rapid pecks that leave the snake reeling.

snake in the grass

Once the snake is weak enough, your rooster will probably assert his dominance by scarfing the snake down. Yet, much like other members of the flock, a rooster will not prowl around in search of snakes.

Are Chickens Afraid of Snakes?

Chickens can be timid creatures. When something unfamiliar intrudes, they may run away rather than investigate. Snakes are one of those predators that will receive a mixed reaction. Roosters will get defensive, but there are some chickens who will be more afraid of the snake than the serpent is of them. For instance, if your flock is aware that a snake is inside the coop, they may be more hesitant to go inside. If you find that your hens are not laying eggs and acting frightened of the coop, it could be that a snake is in there, stealing their eggs in the middle of the night.

Are Snakes Afraid of Chickens?

Some species of snakes are afraid of chickens and similar land fowl, because they know getting seen means getting attacked without much chance of fleeing. This is especially true for smaller species of snakes. Small snakes make for easy targets, especially since some chickens will peck at or swallow these serpents whole.

Nonetheless, snakes of all sizes and types will try to nab a baby chick or an egg. Bigger snakes, in particular, have an appetite for eggs and chicks. Bolder venomous snakes are going to pose a threat to any animal you have in your backyard, even chickens. Therefore, even though some species of snakes will rather slither away from your flock, others are going to sneak into the coop. Keep your yard secure.

In this video, you can see how chickens react to a large snake next to them:

Can Chickens Keep Snakes Away?

If you have a snake problem, chickens are not going to be the best solution. Chickens do not prey on snakes like other birds; they are only going to attack snakes if they feel threatened. Mature chickens kill snakes when they are trying to protect their eggs or babies, and so they will leave snakes alone most of the time.

Looking for a backyard bird to help reduce the number of snakes? You are going to want a couple of Guinea fowl, as they will attack snakes even when not provoked. Should they spot a snake, a Guinea fowl will chase it down and not rest until the snake is dangling from its beak.

Can Chickens Eat Snakes?

Yes, chickens can eat snakes. Once a chicken begins attacking a snake, they may continue onto the point where that snake dies. If so, being that chickens are opportunistic, they will not pass up the chance at some good eating. Thus, the chicken makes a meal out of a would-be predator. However, there are a couple of reasons why you don’t want your chickens routinely swallowing snakes whole. For starters, snakes, even the tiniest varieties, can be too much for your chicken to swallow at once. This could cause the body of the snake to become trapped in the crop, creating a painful — and sometimes fatal — impaction.

This video shows how a chicken caught a small snake:

Are Chickens Immune to Snake Venom?

If chickens and roosters are capable of killing snakes, does that mean they are immune to venom? Well, no. Chickens are not immune to a snake’s bite. Should they be bitten by a venomous snake, the chicken will most likely die. That said, their plumage does give them some protection from a snake’s fangs. It would take a lot of power for a snake to get through their feathers to sink their fangs into a chicken’s flesh. Thus, a rooster may be able to deflect an attack and get away from a brawl with a snake unscathed.

Tips For Snake-Proofing Your Chicken Coop

Chickens will fight snakes if it comes to it, but chickens are not going to keep snakes away. In fact, simply having a coop in your yard attracts snakes. Here are some tips for keeping snakes away from your yard and chicken coop for good:

  1. Keep the coop elevated off the ground and wrap the posts in inverted funnels to discourage snakes from climbing inside.
  2. Seal any low-lying holes that snakes and other predators could get through. Anything that is wider than 2 inches is an easy access point.
  3. Do not leave the coop open throughout the day.
  4. Install a fence around the coop and the chicken run. Fencing is an effective method for deterring predators, including snakes, from getting inside the coop. Again, the fence should not have any holes or spaces wide enough for snakes to slink through. Electric fencing also helps.
  5. Clean up after your chickens. Feed, excrement, and feathers can attract mice to the coop and yard. In turn, snakes are attracted to the large population of mice. The cleaner the coop, the less chance of a snake wandering in.
  6. Frequently collect chicken eggs. There are a couple of reasons for gathering up eggs as soon as they are laid, but the biggest is to keep predators from taking notice. Keep eggs from sitting in the coop will directly deny your snakes an easy source of food.
  7. Maintain your yard. Cut the tall grass, so snakes and other predators cannot hide. Trim back any trees that climbing snakes could use to drop onto the roof of the coop.
  8. Plant lemongrass around the fence or the coop. Snakes dislike lemongrass and will be repelled by it.
  9. Use other snake repellents, including vinegar, peppermint, and peppers. You can make a spray using a combination of water, white vinegar, hot peppers (or hot sauce), and peppermint essential oil to drive away the serpents (and other predators).
snake and the egg inside it

Conclusion

When threatened, chickens become fierce fighters that can take down snakes. Since snakes are a threat to their existence, roosters and hens alike will go on high alert. Furthermore, while snakes are not a favorite treat, chickens will kill and eat the snake without any problem. But can chickens keep snakes away? No. Snakes will still try to get into the coop, which is why you have to actively ensure that your coop is snake-free. If you tend to have a lot of scaly creatures slithering about, consider adding some Guinea hens to your yard.

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