First off, mouse management soapbox: I implore you, do NOT use sticky traps outdoors. It will trap ~anything~ that crosses its path, including small bunnies, squirrels and the aforementioned snakes, cool ones or otherwise. It's a horrible way to die. Instead, we had the local pest control company come out and install poison-bait boxes. They double-checked for us and confirmed that any poisoned mice (the product they use causes quick death via severe dehydration) are safe for consumption by both mammals and other avians, including chickens.
[Oh, speaking of chickens, "Veronica" made a full recovery, yay!!!]
Next, we're reconfiguring areas close to the house and animal shelters that are conducive to mouse habitat. We knew for sure there were mice living under one of the duck shelters. Demolishing the shelter moved to the top of the timeline lickety-split when I found a @#$!! rattlesnake in the nesting area.
Thankfully, I was awake enough during that morning egg check to see the snake before I reached down. It was having a nice snooze. I didn't recognize it at first, so got a long stick to lift it up in order to check for rattles. Rattles there? Yep. It didn't start getting annoyed until I tried to move it out, so I closed off the area to keep the birds out, got on some boots & jeans, found the square-edge shovel, and went back out. The snake was now gone. Kinda glad I didn't have to kill it, but that also meant there was a rattlesnake on the loose, the first we've seen since we moved to this property. Eep.
|New duck feeding station, front view.
Spouse decapitated the snakes as quickly/humanely as he could (see square shovel still on roof of new feed station), created a stable base, and installed the new feed station to replace the old one that had been part of the now-removed old duck shelter. I may end up putting a rain gutter and spout on the back, connected to a large tub, as an additional source of water for the ducks to play in during the rainy season.
|New duck feeding station, back view.
When all's said and done, it doesn't bother me too much to have found rattlesnakes on the property. We've been fortunate to have avoided them for this long. It does mean taking a few more precautions before doing certain kinds of work, however, but that's manageable. As the area settles in for the Long Hot season, the mouse population will start dwindling, which should do the same for the snake population as well.