Snakes and chickens are not a good mix. Chickens see snakes as predators, and seeing them can cause chickens so serious stress.
In addition to causing fear and stress, some snakes are capable of killing and eating chickens and many will steal their eggs.
If you have snakes in your area, no matter how small or harmless they are you should always take steps to try and repel them so they don’t cross paths with your chickens.
What Is Snake Away?
Snake Away or Snake-A-Way is an EPA-approved product designed to repel snakes and my guess is that it’s one of the most well-known and popular snake repellants.
It’s marketed as being effective at driving away garter snakes and rattlesnakes, two of the most popular groups of snakes in the U.S. as well as many other species.
It comes in a granular form and when applied to an area, Snake Away says;
As a snake approaches the product, its sensory perceptions is alerted and the snake turns away leaving the area.
To best use the product, you need to create a sort of barrier around an area you want to keep free of snakes.
So, you could put it around the perimeter of your yard, or just create an area where your chickens roam with Snake Away around the edge.
Snake Away lasts for 2-3 months unless you experience heavy rainfall. That’s pretty good protection against annoying snakes slithering their way into your chicken’s coop or run area.
Related - More on why Sevin Dust is also harmful to chickens.
Is Snake Away Safe for Chickens?
Reading the instructions for Snake-A-Way, it does say that the product is safe for use around people, pets, and plants - when using the product as directed.
When using any products designed to keep animals, bugs, or other pests at bay, I won’t take any chances when using it around my chickens.
So, I reached out to customer support for Woodstream, a parent company for a bunch of the leading brands behind pest control products.
I asked if Snake Away is safe to use around backyard chickens, and here’s the reply I got:
This product is hazardous to animals, so if you decide to use this product, the chickens should be kept from the treated areas.
That makes it very clear; Snake Away is not safe for chickens, you should make sure your chickens cannot come into contact with the product.
This means, if you’re creating a barrier around your chickens you’re going to need to place Snake Away outside of their enclosure/run etc.
Does Snake Away Harm Chickens?
Snake Away is potentially harmful to chickens, yes. This is why it’s recommended that you do not allow your chickens to come into contact with the product.
The two main active ingredients in Snake Away are; naphthalene (7%) and sulfur (28%).
Sulfur is known to be toxic and can even be fatal to animals if ingested. It can cause a wide range of health issues and should be avoided.
The other ingredient that snakes hate the smell of - and I don’t blame them - is naphthalene.
Naphthalene is the main active ingredient in mothballs, which if you’ve ever smelled a mothball, it’s not something you forget in a hurry.
Mothballs are toxic and harmful to chickens, so it’s no surprise that Snake Away is also toxic.
I don’t know what would happen exactly if a chicken ate some Snake Away granules, and I don’t want to find out.
The bottom line is that Snake Aways is toxic and harmful to chickens, if you’re using it in your yard make sure your flock cannot get anywhere near it.
What Can I Put Around My Chicken Coop to Keep Snakes Away?
If you don’t want to use Snake Away or you can’t guarantee your chickens will not come into contact with it, you have other options.
A few of the best practices I know some backyard chicken owners have used to keep snakes at bay are:
- Clearing any debris and weeds so there are fewer places for snakes to hide.
- Setting humane snake traps to capture snakes before they can do any damage.
- Snake-proofing your coop and run with a strong mesh covering any possible entry points.
- Using natural snake repellent scents that are safe for chickens.
There are some natural scents that are known to be effective at repelling snakes. You can try and use these, but honestly, the effectiveness does come into question sometimes.
I haven’t used any of the following scents so I can’t say they work for sure, but researching the topic the top scents gardeners recommend to keep snakes away are:
You can get some powerful essential oils and other products that contain these scents. Or, if you’re green-fingered you might want to grow some plants where possible.
What Snakes Kill Chickens?
There are a number of species of snakes that will kill and eat chickens. The most commonly found species across North America are:
- Timber Rattlesnakes
These are all pretty scary and dangerous predators to chickens. If you know that any of these inhabit your area, you should take steps to protect your chickens.
It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Do Snakes Steal or Eat Chicken Eggs?
There are a lot of species of snake that will help themselves to chicken eggs given the chance.
Some of the most commonly found snakes in North America that are known to eat eggs are:
- Milk Snakes
- Egg-eating Snakes
- Chicken Snakes
- King Snakes
Essentially, most snakes that are able to unhinge their jaws wide enough are capable of stealing eggs.
It’s better you snake-proof your coop and don’t give them the chance to get inside in the first place!
Snake Away is not safe for chickens, no. The active ingredients in Snake-A-Way are toxic to chickens and will cause some serious health issues if ingested.
If snakes are a threat to your chickens, you either need to place a boundary of Snake Away far out of the reach of your chickens or use a different method.
There are some good natural snake repellents that are safe for chickens. As well as many other ways you can snake-proof your chicken’s coop, enclosure, run, and other areas they roam.