Small rat snake on gourd rack

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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2004 1:32 pm
Location: Texas/Houston

Small rat snake on gourd rack

Postby ldybala » Fri May 17, 2019 4:10 pm

Today I noticed something that looked like a lizard on my gordrakk. When I inspected I found that it was a very small rat snake, probably about two and a half feet long and pencil-thin. Along part of its length was a sausage wide circumference with probably four or five baby Martin's. I removed the snake and took it 8 blocks away across a busy Street Into the Woods next to a golf course. I did have 3/4 in mesh snake guard but apparently he went through that. I reviewed Steve post about snake guards and immediately bought half inch mesh and more 3/4 in mesh to reinforce my snake guard. The only place I found it was at Lowe's. Had to buy 100 feet of the half inch mesh but was able to get a much smaller and cheaper supply of the 3/4 inch mesh. Apparently the snake was so small that it was able to go through the 3/4 in mesh. Don't know if anything would have prevented this small of a snake. The snake apparently got at least one and possibly two of my Martin nests. I have 20 gourds on this pole and counted six with eggs and three with very early babies. My question is will the adults stay and lay more eggs or will they abandon this. I'm assuming that the birds that have eggs and babies will continue feeding as they are now. I have heard the entire colonies are abandoned after a snake attack. Since only limited damage was done I hope the birds whose Nest was rated will re nest and that my colony is not in jeopardy.
2013 one pair; 4 eggs; 1 fledged
2014 three pair; 6 fledged
2015 six pair; 16 fledged

Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: MO

Re: Small rat snake on gourd rack

Postby deancamp » Fri May 17, 2019 5:54 pm

I hate to hear that and sorry I'm not knowledgable enough to answer your question. Do you also have a metal baffle that it was able to get around?

Posts: 1926
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 6:42 pm
Location: Florida/Pompano Beach
Martin Colony History: I moved to South Florida, from Delaware, in August of 2015.

I will have 2 MSS-8 houses, with Excluder entrances, here on my condo grounds. This season I will also have two Delux Gourd Racks with 24 Excluder Gourds with Modified Excluder entrances. In our condo development, along the lake in a different section, I have 7 Excluder Gourds hanging from 84 inch Shepherd's Hooks with predator guards.

At Quiet Waters Park, nearby in Deerfield Beach, I have a Deluxe Gourd Rack with 12 TVG's. I also have an rack with 12 Excluder gourds with Modified Excluder entrances.

At another local park, Tradewinds Park at Coconut Creek, I have a Trendsetter 12, MSS-8 and Minicastle. The Park and I erected and care for an additional 60 Excluder Gourds with modified Excluder entrances.

Re: Small rat snake on gourd rack

Postby Carlton » Sun May 19, 2019 10:43 am

I have an idea that the martins will abandon the gourd for this year but who knows. I could be wrong.

Yes. The snake netting should be above a good cylindrical predator guard and act as a backup. Having said that though I AM SORRY this happened and HOPE the martins renest. I had a small ratsnake like that get into my chickadee house one year, up in Delaware, and it devoured the young birds before I realized what was happening. Those tiny snakes can eat something MUCH larger than it appears they could.

Posts: 3499
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 1:57 pm
Location: Missouri/Licking
Martin Colony History: Colony started - 2007 with one pair
As of 2018 - 84 cavities offered, max # of pairs hosted - 82.

Re: Small rat snake on gourd rack

Postby KathyF » Mon May 20, 2019 3:03 pm

Yikes! So sorry to hear that.

Agree with Carlton - your snake netting should be above a cylinder guard. The small snake may not have been able to breach a 2' stovepipe guard.
"Sometimes", said Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
2016 - 82 pair
2015 - 76 pair
2014 - 75 pair
2013 - 75 pair
2012-72 pair

Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4226
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Re: Small rat snake on gourd rack

Postby Steve Kroenke » Mon May 20, 2019 4:44 pm

The ideal approach with a net trap is a double layered one. The bottom netting should be 3/4 inch mesh and the top 1/2 inch mesh. The bottom trap will usually catch the larger rat snakes and the top will usually catch the smaller ones like the one that you had. It is most difficult to find the 1/2 inch mesh and you can sometimes find it on the Internet. The other day we caught a huge Texas rat snake in a net trap on one of our poles at a satellite colony. The netting is 3/4 inch mesh. This snake could have inflicted heavy losses on the martins!
PMCA Member
300+ pairs of martins each season

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