Thursday, May 08, 2008

What happens when chickens make poor nesting decisions

This morning when K was checking chicks, turkeys, and our broody hen who decided to nest outside of the hen house (not that it would have made a difference in this instance), he started squawking loudly enough for me to hear him in the house to, "Bring the camera!!!!!"

When E and I did bring the camera, we saw the broody hen trapped in our temporary restraining pen with this enormous rat snake. The idea of the temporary protection was to keep the raccoons and skunks away - also yellow dogs who might forget their training. We weren't really thinking of long, thin predators.

We should have been. This snake is certainly a healthy specimen. He or she has probably been feasting on our eggs for quite some time. I think he was about 5 feet long, but none of the pictures show the full length.

K was more enthralled about capturing the dislocation of the jaw. Honestly, I thought it was somewhat gross, but what do I know. These were taken at close range without the aid of special lens. K and I both assumed the snake had such a mouthful that he would be in no position to strike.

What to do? What to do? Should we relocate the hen and her eggs? Or just hope she learns to choose more wisely next time.

Can we count this as science??


ZILLA said...


Apparently, the army of kitties you keep has kept the rodent population down and this big guy is desperate?

And, what luck! I just read that some species of rat snake make good pets.

I'd count dual credit for science and either art or photojournalism. Good capture, K!

Tara said...

Yes, this counts as science!! Owen is going to love these pictures.

Angela said...

Definitely animal study credits! Sorry, but it is rather cool! I do wonder if your chicken is cousins with my cotton tail, since their nest selection is equally poor!

JoVE said...

Excellent photos. Very cool. Give that kid art credits, too!

Wisteria said...

This big guy is known to be an egg eater around here and is sometimes called a chicken snake, but technically he is a rat snake.

Our cats are technically lazy, therefore there may be a rodent or two around. We have a few that will hunt, but mostly they just wait around to have food poured into their bowls.

Melora said...

I'd relocate that chicken, though I suppose it is a little late to prevent the snake from developing a taste for eggs (by the size of him, I suppose he's been eating eggs for a Long time -- he's Huge!). That Definitely counts as science.

m~ said...

Put a ceramic egg in there, that will take care of him!

Totally awesome pictures!