A snake catcher has revealed the backyard feature which draws in snakes like no other after a Far North Queensland woman found a scrub python in her yard with an exceptionally large belly and a “smug” look on its face.
“My dog gets an identical expression when he nicks something he shouldn’t,” the woman wrote online. “Maybe I’m just personifying, but I’m seeing guilt.”
Sharing the discovery on social media, she recalled how she found the reptile in her chicken coop after it forced it's way in through the mesh and consumed one of her pet chooks.
Luke Huntley, better known as Luke the Noosa Snake Catcher, has described keeping chickens in your backyard in Australia as like “ringing the dinner bell” for the country’s scaliest locals.
Underneath a photo of the snake and its bulging belly, the shocked Queenslander said the reptile was close to two metres long.
“I know basically how it works and all, but I still can't get my head around the fact that a three centimetre diameter neck can expand around a 15 centimetre minimum diameter chicken,” she said. “He/she literally popped the rivets holding the mesh onto the wall.”
Despite being served some “side eye” from the reptile in question, the woman “gently eased” the snake into a bin. “I think he was too full to care,” she explained. “I will relocate him to a paddock or two away, in a nice bushy bit where he can sleep off his meal, which will hopefully give me time to shore up the pen that I keep my young chooks in at night.”
Chickens in backyard like 'ringing the dinner bell'
Finding snakes in chicken coops is nothing new for Huntley. In fact, he says the two go hand-in-hand.
“I always describe owning chickens in Australia as you are ringing the dinner bell,” he told Yahoo News Australia, adding that some snakes will actually set up near a chicken coop. “I get people emailing me all the time and texting me going: ‘Hey, we've just moved here, how do we make the property safe from snakes?’
“It's like: ‘Look, you've moved to Queensland guys, you're gonna get snakes. It’s as simple as that’.”
Catcher dispels snake myth
Several people commenting on the Facebook post asserted that eating chickens actually makes snakes ill, but Huntley says that isn't the case.
The breeding season runs from September to November. From December onwards while the females are busy laying their eggs, the males “are completely done with the girls and they’re in full hunt mode”. Once the females have done their duty, they’ll immediately leave their babies and “she’s off to get herself some food finally”.
“Pretty much, from the beginning of December and over the next few months, basically every couple of days I’m getting a python out of a chicken coop which has eaten a chicken,” Huntley said. “I get many, many jobs like that every week.”
And it could be non-stop for these “opportunistic hunters,” he added. “If the season is right and the weather is right and the food is in the area, they'll eat a meal, digest it for a week or two depending on the size of the meal, and then they might be happy to go again.”
How to snake proof your chicken coop
Huntley explained that he likes to use the word rat proof, “because if you can keep rodents out, you’ll keep snakes out”. But be prepared to dish out the cash because it won’t come cheaply. “If you don’t, you’re gonna get snakes,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”
According to the snake catcher, the best snake proof pens involve a concrete base and really fine mesh to stop rats and mice from digging tunnels in to get food. “By doing that, you will definitely keep snakes out,” he said.
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