chicken snakes! how often do they eat eggs?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by tat, Sep 23, 2004.

  1. tat

    tat Active Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    My egg production has cut in half in the last few days . I am wondering if I have a snake/snakes getting them. Does anyone know how often they can eat eggs? can they eat more than 1 at a time or maybe one per day. I see no evidence of them but that probably does not mean anything. If it is snakes then there must be a bunch of them. Do all species of snakes eat eggs or is it just chicken snakes?
     
  2. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,205
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Florida
    How many eggs are missing? Rat snakes might eat more than one egg per sitting (maybe two) but they won't eat everyday. They will have to go off to digest. I've never fed eggs to snakes and don't know how long it will take to digest but a normal meal of a chick or rodent will digest in about 4 days and the snake will eat again when it can move around freely. Wild snakes probably eat no more than once a week if they are lucky. Still, the scenario doesn't seem right. Maybe another predator?
     

  3. Stand_Watie

    Stand_Watie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    115
    Joined:
    May 22, 2004
    Location:
    Texas - midway between Dallas and Tyler
    They can eat several at a time. I once caught a very small (about 18 inches long) chickensnake (ratsnake) inside a gourd that I had that had had baby birds in it, the baby birds were gone and he had 4 bulges in his belly. But more importantly, if you've got one, you've probably got a whole bunch of them.

    Put a golf ball in each chicken nest and make sure you pick up your eggs before dark. The chickensnakes come out at night and will eat the golf balls, which supposedly kills them.

    Here's one of the last chickensnakes I caught in the act.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,124
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon
    :) This is a reknown herb forum. I would ask these guys about theh habits of the snakes in your area. There really is no species of snake that's called a "chicken snake"...I think some of the Rat Snakes are erroneously called chicken snakes?


    http://forums.kingsnake.com/forum.php?catid=84

    They will help you ID any snakes you see also which is interesting. Also, rats are known to take eggs along with a number of other egg loving critters, like spotted skunks. Can you beef up your wire protection and whatnot so nothing can get in? Window screening etc?

    I'm sorry about your eggs, that is frustrating to say the least!

    Good luck, LQ
     
  5. tat

    tat Active Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
     
  6. Stand_Watie

    Stand_Watie Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    115
    Joined:
    May 22, 2004
    Location:
    Texas - midway between Dallas and Tyler
    I'm 5'10. I estimate that snake was six feet long. My neighbor, who is an "oldtimer" to this area says the biggest "chickensnake" (common terminology for the Texas ratsnake) that she's ever seen was about seven feet long and as big around as her arm. She's not prone to exageration(she's a small lady, but that's still as big around as my forearm). The largest I've seen was in a zoo - it was a Louisiana "cornsnake", a slightly different variety of ratsnake and it was about six feet long and about as thick as my wrist.

    *important* These guys are vital predators in nature. They are entirely harmless to human beings. Don't kill them unless they are actually around your chicken coop. The rats and other varmints they kill will more than offset your egg losses unless they are actually actively preying on your eggs/chicks (they won't kill fully grown chickens as they aren't large enough to eat them). I have a two hundred foot rule. Any that I find more than two hundred feet from my coop get a free pass and my blessing.
     
  7. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,205
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Florida
    Eggs don't provoke the same reaction as baby birds. Birds are alive and moving and give off heat. The snake might think it was at a buffet :) Eggs are immobile and lose heat after being laid. I seriously doubt the snake would have the same reaction. At any rate, when they overeat they can't move. Given the size and weight of a chicken egg, if one snake ate just one it would have a hard time moving away from where the eggs were. I don't think a rat snake with two eggs in its belly would be able to go anywhere.
     
  8. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,124
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon
    :) One species of American Rat Snake attains 8 1/2 ft in length if it sould live so long. A large egg eating snake(in most of the world many of these egg eaters are specialists and eat nothing else)can clean out a nest in one mea, of say, guinea eggs.

    To understand how they can do this you need to know the mechanics of egg eating. LOL They will swallow an egg and when it gets to the back of the throat it is pierced by special spines.. the egg is emptied and the shell expelled, flattened and empty.

    These species are fascinating to keep. The young are fed finch eggs, then as they grow quail eggs are given on up to small bantam eggs, depending on the species and size of the snake.

    In this country there are no strick egg eaters. Just some snakes will take advantage of eggs if they are offered but eat far more rats and mice than eggs. It is all too easy to keep them out of the coop...I just don't understand why people don't simply build predator proof pens..duck soup! LOL

    These creatures are a valuable resource. I encourage them to stay around by keeping old pieces of 1/2" plywood laying out for them for shelter.

    LQ
     
  9. Dances In Woods

    Dances In Woods Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    234
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2002
    Location:
    east TEXAS
    The last chicken snake we killed was big enough to run mama goose off her eggs. It had swallowed one already and almost had a 2nd one down until we heard goose making a ruckus about it. The snake regurgitated both eggs when we got a hold of it....gross out. :eek: