The hens in a hen house in Hull, Texas, have a give-and-take relationship with their rat snake neighbor that lives about 15 feet away in the broken-down 1980s Ramcharger.
The snake culls the rodent population, and the hens — along with owners Bob and Gwen Allison — turn a blind eye to the snake’s occasional cravings for one of their freshly laid eggs.
But on Wednesday evening, one of the Allisons’ hens reached her tipping point, according to photos their daughter Sara posted on Facebook.
“She’s very protective,” Sara Allison told McClatchy.
Sara walked into the hen house just after 5:30 p.m. and saw the hen with ruffled feathers sitting on the rat snake’s head. She had no idea what to do next, so she posted the photos in a Facebook group that answers questions about snakes found in southeast Texas.
“Look at this dummy!” she wrote to the group. “Too stubborn to get up when a rat snake wants a meal lol. What do I do?”
Sara, 32, lives in Crosby, which is about 20 miles east of Houston and about 35 miles west of her parents’ property in Hull.
One of the Facebook group’s administrators suggesting putting on thick gloves and moving the hen from her box so the snake could slither home, full with two egg-shaped belly bumps. The situation, as nature often intends, ended up working itself out, though.
Rat snakes are nonvenomous, according to Live Science, and they kill their prey by constriction.
“I was more worried about that hen pecking me than the snake biting me,” Sara said. “I’ve had to pick that snake up before to move him out of the chicken house, but he’s never been under a chicken before.”
One comment on her Facebook post even zoomed in on the snake’s facial expression while it was pinned under the hen’s backside.
“Um, can you get your butt out of my face, please?” the commenter wrote, literally magnifying the occasional hilarity of the rural animal kingdom.
Sara told McClatchy that her parents have been in the hospital recently, so no one has been making regular trips to the hen house to collect the eggs. The opportunist snake that lives in the truck next door has been taking advantage.
But she also said that her parents were starting to feel better, so maybe future entanglements between the very protective hen and the hungry snake can be avoided.