When I first started researching about raising backyard chickens there was one topic that kept coming up that had me just completely panic stricken slightly concerned ... Snakes! Almost every book, magazine, and website that I read seemed to view snakes as a 'comes with the territory' kind of predator.
Not wanting to give up my dream of raising my own chickens, I decided that I would do my best to make my coop as snake proof as possible.
First thing I needed to do was learn by other people's mistakes, after all I truly believe in being preventative ... especially when snakes are involved! What I basically found was that if you can keep rats/mice out of the coop, then you increase your chances of keeping snakes out!
First thing we did was bury hardware cloth about 12 inches all around the base of the coop. This will help with predators that want to dig under as well.
After reading through several forums, I found that snakes can fit through anything larger then 1/4 inch, and as much as I would have loved to use the hardware cloth everywhere, economically that was not an option! I did find though that bird netting is a much thriftier option. Now there are some who will be against the bird netting, because it traps the snake and causes the snake a painful death unless released. I am not one of those people! I have never felt sorry for a snake, and I am pretty sure that I never will! As far as I am concerned it is my biblical right as a woman to hate all snakes! We put bird netting from the middle down all the way around, and also bunched up more at the base.
Another thing that I found among those who had a snake problem was that the rat/mice were attracted to the chickens' food and water ... and as we all know if you attract rats/mice you are most definitely going to attract snakes. So to prevent that we installed a rodent-proof feeder and watering system.
This last step I have to be honest isn't so much to keep snakes out, as it is to keep my feather babies safe in the event that I can't be home when it's time to put them in at night. This door automatically opens when the sun rises, and then automatically closes as the sun is setting. You can’t really put a price on peace of mind.
I really hope that all of these preventative measures do the trick! I promise to update this one year from now ... or until the first sign of snakes.... Please, for my sake pray it's the first one!