Huge Rat Snake Thwarted by Bird Netting

 Kent Justus, kdjust@aol.com - Mt. Vernon, AR
 

Hello folks. Well, the first rate snake attempt on my martins was made the night of 06/02/01. I say attempt because it was thwarted completely. I awoke Sunday morning and went outside and immediately glanced at the martin gourd rack as I always do and immediately noticed a huge black rat snake entangled in the bird netting I had placed at the bottom of the pole under a 36" cone baffle. Last year I lost several martins to two huge black rat snakes which got around an inverted 5-gallon bucket and consumed several adult and nestling martins. I was just sick about that and decided to fortify my ground-climbing predator guards this year by installing a 36" cone baffle and the bird netting below that. The snake (over 5' long) had obviously tried to constrict up the pole and became totally entangled in the netting and was just hanging there, unable to move but still very much alive. The martins were feeding without concern while I attempted to cut the snake from the netting. While I feel that the 36" cone baffle would have prevented the rat snake from eating my martins I still feel great to have two levels of defense and it wasn't able to get by the first one. I simply taped a "skirt" of this material about 2' off the ground beneath the winch on my pole forcing any snakes to go through this before getting any higher and they end up getting themselves entangled in the fine netting. By trapping the snakes this will also let me know how many times huge rat snakes attempt to predate my colony this season and I'll share my summer total in a couple of months. The martins are safe and happy! - Kent Justus / Mt. Vernon, Arkansas  (Photos by Thayne Muller)

Re: Huge Rat Snake Thwarted by Bird Netting

 Kent Justus, kdjust@aol.com - Mt. Vernon, AR
 

 I got my bird netting at Wal-Mart in the garden section. It just comes in a plastic package and cost only about $5.00. It is just thin netting material with about a 1/4" gap between the threads. It is black and is used to put over fruit trees, strawberries, etc. to prevent birds from pecking the fruit. I'm not sure what you mean by an adjustable guard for the pole. I have found that if you have a serious snake problem then the only guard that has been effective nearly 100% is the 36" cone baffle. Big snakes can get around inverted 5-gallon buckets and smaller stovepipe guards. Good luck - Kent Justus / Mt. Vernon, AR