Yes. Nature is a cruel one, but queue plot twist in 3…2…1….
I took the pups out for a potty break about lunch time and noticed something – odd. About 20 hens, all standing together at the side of the chicken coop – frozen like statues. All staring at something on the ground. Immediately, my spidey sense tingles and I say, out loud, “That can’t be good.”
I run through the dog pen, out the gate, around the side fence and come up on the group of hens. Again, still transfixed with whatever is on the ground. I immediately think, something has died and they are gathering to consume it. This can’t be good.
As I flip flop over to the side of the coop, I am stunned. There, coiled up tightly is a rat snake. A BIG ONE. It sits there quietly and after a few moments, gingerly peeks its head out from safety to flee. And BAM! A hen nails it on the head.
The snake recoils in pain and bunches its body up closer to the coop. The horde of hens take one step closer in, each hen ready to strike with their sharp beaks.
Those of you that have been around chickens know that their pecks can be painful - Bruise flesh and even draw blood. As I fished the snake out of its hiding place with a rake, I realize that it’s been through the ringer already. Its back is missing scales and in many places it has hunks pecked out of it. It looked like someone had jabbed it a million times with an ice pick. Also, while fishing out the snake, I realize it’s even larger than I first guessed. At least 6 feet long and it takes me two hands wrap around its thick body.
My sweet ladies had, in effect, turned their predator into their prey. I am confident that, left to their own, the hens would have been eating snake sandwiches this afternoon.
Moral of the story – Chickens: One is not that big of a threat. But 20+, they can take over the world.