"Rat Raid"

It has been an active season so far with snakes on our little farm. To date by June 6th, I have collected a large red bellied water snake, an Eastern Black Racer and of course the large Rat Snake shown in these pictures.

I was fortifying a goat breeding pen adjacent to a hen house when I heard a biddy peeping. It had fallen out of a hole that the hens had dug out in the corner of the coop and now the little guy was on the outside. Little did I know that there was a battle raging on the inside of the hen house. Just then I heard some commotion on the other side of the wall.

          

I had let a small silky hen brood some of her eggs in that corner just a few weeks prior and she was now happily hatching out her first brood. I had seen her pint-size bantam puffs peeking out from under her wings two days earlier. She grumbled as I came close to see, letting me know that she would put up a fight to keep me from invading her space.

Suspecting what the noises in the coop might be, I recalled that my camera was in my truck which just happened to be backed up to the goat pen were I had been unloading fence posts only a few feet from where I stood now. I rushed to the truck cab grabbing my camera and went in to witness an amazing feat of pure wild preservation instinct backed by a large rush of adrenaline through the tiny body of this bantam hen. She was facing off with a large Green Rat Snake about four and 1/2 feet in length. I was struck by her unmitigated defiance of this huge serpent now flicking it's tongue to taste the scent of her brood on the air. I knew that she stood no chance against this, powerful constrictor. But I watched for a moment before intervening and was really amazed to see her give her best with no compromise and no intention of abandoning her young that huddled behind her.

The hen postured, throwing her wings out and dropping her head low to the ground to face her foe. The massive preditor lunged at her but not having been properly coiled for a good stike, he only grazed her. With this she lept into the air attempting to land soundly on his head but as she came back down, the snake having pulled back into the proper striking stance seized her. Bringing her to the ground with a loud shreik they both seemed stunned. I then lept toward the snake who was now withdrawing whith a mouth full of white down. Turns out the fluffy coat of a silky makes for a confounding deffence, clogging up a mouth full of tiny razor teeth

Hope you enjoy these shots. I grabbed the snake as he began to bring the confrontation to crisis for my hen. He sits in a tank awaiting deportation as I write this.