Posted by Holly on Sunday, June 1, 2014
(Click to enlarge)
Every week new challenges await us. This week while closing the chicken coop for the night, I came across two black rat snakes in the chicken coop. We see black rat snakes here frequently and have surprisingly gotten used to their presence and keep our distance, but this time, I freaked out and considered getting rid of them. Black rat snakes aren't venomous and they eat small vermin such as mice so they really are beneficial to have around. But I have to admit, they are a bit scary since they are 4-8 feet long and slither up the side of walls.
Inside the chicken coop, one of the snakes was in the corner where there are mouse holes, and the other snake was curled up with the eggs in the nest box. I have heard of snakes eating eggs so I figured between the mice and eggs, the snakes weren't going to leave. Contrast to my shocked behavior, the chickens were walking right next to the snakes as if they weren't even there! Even the rooster was calm and collected. As you can guess, I didn't collect the eggs, but closed up the coop and quickly posted this moral dilemma on a homesteader's facebook page I follow. The responses were a bit surprising. Many folks said to kill them because they will never leave as long as there are eggs and others say black snakes eat baby chicks (which we don't have). Others said to put them in a burlap sack and drop them off far away from your farm while very few advocated for leaving them alone. Well, Jon and I decided to leave them alone for now unless they start to eat too many eggs because they are beneficial to have around and they aren't venomous.
Much to my surprise, the next morning, the snakes were no where to be seen and the eggs were all left in the nest box! I carried the camera everywhere I went during the week, hoping to capture a picture of them since I didn't think to return to the coop for a picture the night before. The only sighting was near the barn in the grass (see picture at the top of the page). So, life goes on here. The snakes did not harm the chickens or eat the eggs, and we left them alone. It sounds all warm and cozy that we live harmoniously with nature, but instances like these do make us question the balance of nature and when humans should intervene.