More Than a Snake Can Swallow

An adult male chicken, the rooster has a promi...
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That does it. It’s time to go the marble egg route.

We’ve lost eggs to a huge black snake several times last year, before the dogs at our three laying hens. This morning, one of our three-month-old hens was dead closed up inside the pen. My first guess was that the rest had ganged up on it and killed it. But no. Turns out, it was the dominant “hen” that I suspected of being a rooster.

Figure this out: not a mark on it, but it was wet from the head to the base of the neck. Had to be a snake whose eyes were bigger than its gullet. My guess was that it had gotten in during the day, and was inside when Ann closed up the house and the hens just before dark. So I expected to find the perp top-side in the nesting box. Nope.

Somehow, this snake (almost certainly a black snake but maybe a rat snake) is getting in and out with the house closed up not-quite-tight. We’ll have to problem-solve. And I think I’ll have to place the white marble egg inside the box before the remaining three start laying real, tasty snake-treats. Let him eat that and get away like the cat burglar.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Freddie,
    Definately sorry to hear about your loss. Try this…you’ve seen the minnow traps with the concave funnel at each end, they open with a latch across the middle. Ok, get one or two of these and put three or four eggs into them. Strategically place them along the wall, near the nest box or at a possible site of entrance. Check them each morning and see how many snakes you can harvest! Of course, watchout for the triangled heads!

  2. Hello Fred!

    I an definitely interested in knowing (AND SEEING) the result of either the ceramic egg trick or any & all of the aforementioned suggestions to rid you of your problem. . . please keep us in the know!