If you know there are copperhead snakes inhabiting the area where you live and you keep backyard chickens, you need to be on your guard.
Copperheads will eat chicken eggs given the chance, yes. They are also capable of eating chickens (depending on the size of the snake and the chicken), or killing a chicken and leaving it.
It’s not that difficult to snake-proof a coop and a chicken run. It’s essential you do so though if you want to find delicious eggs waiting for you each day!
Do Copperheads Eat Chicken Eggs?
Copperheads are one of the most popular snakes commonly seen across North America, so it’s always worth checking if they’re known to be in your area.
They grow to around 26 inches (66cm) in length and are fairly distinctive with their light tan color and pinkish tint.
Copperheads typically feed on small rodents like mice and rats, as well as toads, frogs, lizards, and various other creatures around the same size.
They will also eat eggs, pretty much indiscriminate of the creature that laid them. So, this includes chicken eggs.
Copperheads, like most snakes, will eat just about anything that provides nutrients if they’re hungry.
I’ve read accounts from backyard chicken owners who have witnessed a copperhead having just swallowed one of their chicken’s eggs whole, so it certainly happens.
Do Chicken Eggs Attract Snakes?
A lot of chicken owners are concerned that eggs attract snakes, but I can’t find any evidence to back this up.
Snakes are opportunist scavengers, it’s more likely the smell of a coop and your chickens that attract them, and they end up stealing eggs after entering a coop.
If your chickens are breaking eggs in their coop, however, this is a different matter as a snake may well smell the yolk of the egg.
For this reason, it’s important that you do everything you can to avoid eggs breaking, and clean up any spillages as you see them.
I don’t think leaving an egg out any longer than necessary makes it more likely snakes will enter your coop though, they’ll enter anyway.
What Kind of Snake Eats Chicken Eggs?
Generally speaking, if a snake is big enough to eat an egg, it will likely eat it if it’s hungry.
Some of the species of snakes commonly found in North America that are large enough as adults to eat chicken eggs include:
- Copperheads (as covered in this article)
- Various types of Rattlesnake
- King snakes
- Milk snakes
- Egg-eating snakes
- Chicken snakes (this encompasses several species of snakes)
- To name just a few
Something to keep in mind is that just because a snake doesn’t look like its mouth is large enough to eat an egg, it doesn’t mean it’s not able to.
Snakes are able to unhinge their jaws to widen their mouths. Most snakes can eat something around three times the size of their heads by doing this.
So, next time you see a cute (if you think snakes are cute) little snake slithering around your yard, don’t let it fool you - it might be eyeing up your chicken’s eggs!
Do Chickens Scare Away Snakes?
The answer to this question isn’t as clear-cut as ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
In some instances, chickens can successfully scare or keep snakes away from their coops. If your chickens are a lot bigger than the snakes and able to defend themselves, that is.
Some breeds are more aggressive and better at defending themselves, too. Guinea Fowl, for example, are pretty tough and will fight off snakes.
You do have to be careful if you know that there is a possibility of snakes coming into contact with your chickens, however.
Make sure you identify what species of snakes they are, and research how dangerous they are.
Just because a snake is too small to eat a chicken whole, it doesn’t mean it will not bite a chicken and injure or kill it.
In fact, many snakes will try and eat a chicken - or any other animal - that is far too large for them before realizing it’s not possible.
Many owners have entered their coops in the morning to find dead chickens with wet heads and necks.
A sign that a snake has attempted to swallow the chicken but not been able to fit it in and given up!
Copperheads are one of the most common snakes found across North America and will take the opportunity to eat your chicken eggs - or worse, kill your chickens - given the chance.
As a backyard chicken owner, it’s good practice to make your chicken’s coop and run area as secure as possible.
Even if you don’t think you have copperheads in your area, there is always a risk of predators. It’s better to be safe than sorry!