Australia’s wildlife is impressively diverse. If you’re living in an Australian suburb, you may come across a vivid Rainbow Lorikeet one sunny morning or find a Common Brushtail Possum casually walking around your backyard.
Finding an unexpected animal visitor may be welcome, a rather graceful subject for a nice Instagram post. However, some backyard visitors are not quite as attractive….
We have an international reputation of having some of the world’s most vicious and venomous snakes. Although annual snakebite deaths in Australia are not as numerous as compared to other snake prone regions (South Africa has an average of 476 snakebite deaths per year as opposed to Australia which has around 2 to 3 snakebite and related deaths per year), caution is always better than cure.
Thankfully, most venomous snakes in Australia don’t mount an attack unless severely threatened. We’re also the only country with an efficient snake venom detection kit. Available antivenoms, coverage of snakebite treatment by Medicare and the prompt response by the Royal Flying Doctors have made snakebite management more robust.
Humans are not the only victim to snakebites. Snakes tend to feel threatened in the presence of domesticated animals as well and may often lash to bite them as well. Research found that dogs are more likely to die from snakebites than cats.
Many Australians also have backyard chicken coops, which attract quite a lot of their predators including cats, hawks, foxes, even snakes. Chicken eggs, adults and even younglings serve as a great source of nutrition for snakes, so the most common reason why a snake might get inside a coop is hunger.
Additionally, snakes enter chicken coops to quench their thirst as water is almost always available inside coops as well as for shelter. Large snakes can devour live chickens, while venomous snakes may endanger chickens through lethal bites. Moreover, humans, especially children are often taken by surprise when they casually reach down to bring out an egg or two and find a hiding snake in the bedding. Either way, we definitely want to avoid snakes inside a chicken coop!
How do snakes enter chicken coops? Snakes have a soft and slender body which allows them to slither through holes. Snakes can even invade coops by going through, over and underneath fencing. Because snakes don’t eat every day, it might be difficult for you to notice something strange happening inside and around the chicken coops. It could actually take somewhere between 4 - 40 days or even more until you notice a missing or injured chicken. Following are some indicators of snake invasions in your chicken coop:
- Abandoned snake skin
- Regurgitated egg shells
- Missing chickens and eggs
- Dead chickens (with a wet head)
As snakes enter chicken coops unannounced often at the dead of night, securing chicken coops and making them snake proof is the best way to prevent snakes from getting inside chicken coops. Some approaches to snake-proofing a coop include:
- Covering all openings and holes.
- Using meshes and hardware clothes with holes less than ¼ inch.
- Raising the elevation of coops.
- Getting rid of any unwanted debris around and inside the yard.
- Keeping the grass levelled and clearing out bushes and tall grass.
- Keeping the rodent population around and inside the yard under control.
In addition, you can also install battery powered or solar snake repellers around the coop. EnviroBug snake repellers are designed for Australian conditions and emit vibrations of varied frequencies, which ground snakes often perceive as large animals and by extension, danger. The frequency will change every 7 days so that snakes don’t get used to the vibrations. The vibrations won’t bother the chickens or any other pets you have.