Rat snakes are one of the species of snakes that will eat chicken eggs, yes. In fact, for this reason, they are also referred to as chicken snakes sometimes.
Popular as pets, rat snakes are non-venomous and non-aggressive. But if there are any entry points into your coop, they’ll find their way in and steal eggs.
If you know there are rat snakes – or any other snakes for that matter – in your area, it’s always best to snake-proof your chicken’s coop and run!
Do Rat Snakes Eat Chicken Eggs?
Rat snakes do and will eat chicken eggs, yes. In some areas, they’re so well-known for stealing eggs that they’re referred to as ‘chicken snakes’.
Rat snakes are an interesting species of snake, they can vary widely in appearance and there are various species found across North America.
Some of the common species you may have heard of – or know you have in your area – are the :
- Texas rat snake
- Eastern rat snake
- Yellow rat snake
- Gray rat snake
- Red rat snake
The main difference between these subspecies is their coloring and markings. Most can grow to more than 6 feet long, and like most snakes, they’re very sneaky.
Rat snakes can climb walls, squeeze through openings so small you wouldn’t think it possible, and sometimes end up in a coop when you thought it was impenetrable.
Do Chicken Eggs Attract Snakes?
Because snakes eat eggs, a lot of people think that it’s the eggs that are attracting the snakes.
I can’t find any evidence to back up the assumption that eggs alone attract snakes though.
Snakes have an excellent sense of smell, and they use it to find food sources. It’s more likely the general smell of a coop and chickens that attract them though, not eggs.
Of course, it helps to collect eggs as soon as possible and, but this alone will not stop snakes searching the nesting boxes for their next meal.
Keep in mind that snakes are opportunistic scavengers. If they can get into a coop or a chicken run, they’re going to search for something to eat.
If they can’t find an egg, a lot of snakes will kill and eat – or attempt to eat – a chicken.
Snake repellents are notoriously ineffective. Your best line of defense is securing your coop so they can’t get in in the first place.
What Kind of Snake Eats Chicken Eggs?
As a rule of thumb, if a snake is big enough to eat an egg, it’s likely that it will 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:
- Rat snakes (as covered in this article)
- Various types of Rattlesnake
- Milk snakes
- Egg-eating snakes
- King 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.
Rat snakes have fairly small heads. I’ll admit that at first sight, I didn’t think it would be possible for one to swallow a chicken egg whole.
How wrong I was.
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.
Do Chickens Scare Away Snakes?
Chickens are not very effective when it comes to scaring away snakes.
Some breeds are better than others, and it depends on the species of snake, too. But generally speaking, snakes are dangerous predators and are not afraid of chickens.
If you want to add some fowl to your flock that is known to be good at scaring away snakes, then I recommend checking out Guinea Fowl.
Otherwise, your best defense is to be proactive and make your coop and run snake-proof.
If you’re looking for other ways to fortify your coop, snake repellents are not the best in my experience.
Snake traps work better, but you’ll need to check them often and remove any snakes.
The bottom line is that there is no substitute for making sure there is literally no way they can slither into your coop.
You also have to keep in mind that if snakes see your coop as a food source, a bigger, more dangerous snake might kill or eat your chickens, too.
Rat snakes don’t have the nickname of ‘chicken snake’ for no reason. They’re known to steal chicken eggs, so you have to be on your guard.
As backyard chicken owners, we have to stay one step ahead of predators, otherwise, you’ll be dealing with the aftermath – and it might be worse than a few missing eggs.
If rat snakes are known to inhabit your area, make sure the areas your chickens roam are sufficiently fortified!
Image credits – Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
Rat snakes – FloridaMuseum.ufl.edu
Do Snake Repellents Work? – Rattlesnakesolutions.com