do rat snakes eat baby birds

One birdwatcher was shocked and dismayed to find that a family of birds living inside his Delaware bird nesting box had become a greedy snakes lunch.

Going by u/Marty_the_Cat, he uploaded to Reddit a picture of the smug-looking snake sitting inside the bird box, right where the birds should have been nestled.

“Opened the door to my Bluebird nesting box to check on the growth of the baby birds and found this snake inside. All the birds were eaten,” u/Marty_the_Cat captioned the post, which amassed over 70,000 upvotes on the website.

Bluebirds are beautifully blue-colored birds found across North America, and come in three species: the mountain bluebird, the western bluebird and the eastern bluebird. Since u/Marty_the_Cat is based in Delaware, these bluebirds may well have been eastern bluebirds, which range between southeastern Canada and the Gulf Coast.

These birds, measuring only around 6 to 8 inches long, usually mate in the spring and summer, with females raising two broods of chicks per season, according to Animal Diversity Web, a website from the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. The female will lay between 3 and 7 eggs, which hatch after around 2 weeks into tiny chicks. These chicks are then fed by the mother for a week or so, leaving the nest as fledglings after 15 to 20 days post-hatching.

Small birds like these, especially the helpless chicks, are unfortunately often easy pickings for hungry predators, including snakes like the one in the picture.

Black rat snakes are found across the U.S. eastern states and can grow between 3 and 5 feet long. As their name suggests, they are black in color, with a faint grey background behind their scales.

Unlike many other species of snakes across the U.S., black rat snakes are not venomous but kill their prey via constriction. Their usual fare includes small mammals like rats, mice and voles, as well as frogs, lizards, and songbirds. Birds that nest inside cavities, such as the eastern bluebird and other birds that use bird boxes, are a particular favorite of the black rat snake, with the species having been previously caught red-handed on multiple occasions as it has climbed inside for a quick and easy meal.

“One of the duties of making a bluebird or nesting box is securing the base from predators, and rat snakes will take them out,” commented another Reddit user on the post. “There are chimney and/or cone systems that work very well—squirrels, rodents, snakes etc. try to climb the pole and cant really reach around it. otherwise youre pretty much setting the birds up to be eaten instead of finding a better spot for themselves.”

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8. Scarlet King snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)

scarlet king snake rarely eat eggs and baby birdsPhoto: Peter Paplanus/Flickr/CC by 2.0

Description: Milk and Scarlet King Snakes encompass several subspecies. The intricate pattern of bright black, red, and yellow bands is the same in all forms. The red bands are the widest. This color pattern is similar to that of the eastern coral snake, or Micrurus fulvius, which is poisonous.

Scarlet king snakes can grow to be 14–20 inches (36–51 cm) long.

Habits: Scarlet and milk kingsnakes are incredibly reticent and rarely seen in the daytime. They appear to spend the majority of their time hiding and only emerge at night to hunt prey. They prefer arid habitat types that have an abundance of cover and prey. They frequently congregate in and around locations like livestock pens, barns, and other comparable settings.

How to tell if snakes are around?

Generalists in their habitat, snakes are known to prey on bird nests and nesting boxes. They can be found growing in almost any type of vegetation, barns, abandoned buildings, under woodpiles, and around any structure that can serve as a hiding place for them or their prey.

Suburban areas are ideal for snakes because human activity attracts mice, which are the snakes’ preferred food source.

Because snakes are inherently secretive, they may be hard to spot. They might hide in the winter and become more active in the warmer months. Furthermore, they typically don’t leave behind any harm or dead lizards or mice that could indicate their presence.

However, some clues may alert us of their presence.

  • Whole or in fragments: Snakes hide under covers for a significant portion of the year. But they must come out in order to shed their skin, which happens every two to three weeks. The majority of the scaly old skin is left outside of a hiding place.
  • Droppings: Just like when they shed their skin, snakes must exit their dens in order to urinate. Snake droppings can range in color from pale to brown or dark, resembling the droppings of birds. Their droppings may include hair.
  • Snake Tracks: these are harder to find and can only be found on smooth sand or a comparable surface where the snake leaves its tracks.
  • Unique Odor: Snakes frequently make their homes in barns and sheds It could indicate that there are snakes there if you smell something strange that you cannot associate with anything you have ever experienced.

Snakes more likely to raid bird nests

Snakes like the speckled king snake, black racer, and pine snake are more likely to raid bird nests.

FAQ

Do rat snakes eat small birds?

Habits: Adult rat snakes primarily eat mice, rats, squirrels, and birds, as well as bird eggs. They are a common predator on wood duck eggs.

Will a snake eat a baby bird?

Ornithologists and bird enthusiasts have identified nine snake species specialized in finding bird nests to eat the eggs and baby birds. Ornithologists found that 70% of snake raids on bird nests were made by: Rat snakes (Elaphe obsolete) Corn snakes (Elaphe guttata), and.

How do you keep snakes away from baby birds?

In some situations baffles can be placed around trees to prevent climbing predators from reaching the nest. You can also discourage predators from hanging around the area by not leaving food outside. Keeping pets indoors, especially during the nesting season, can also save millions of birds every year.

Do snakes prey on birds?

In fact, the consumption of adult birds is relatively rare. There are some species that like the taste of adult birds, but they’re generally the larger-bodied snakes — such as kingsnakes — supposedly because of the physical constraints of swallowing a bird.