The Ground Attackby Pat on 03/22/11
Electric fencing stops most ground animals, but does not always work in dry weather unless care is taken to add a grounding wire, and even that will not phase a rat snake. I have removed (sometimes alive, sometimes real dead) lots of Texas rat snakes from our hen house. While they are beneficial in rodent control, still, I cannot let them loose on the neighboring farms, or allow a six foot chicken killer to counter-attack after release on our own place. With due reflection and apologies, I usually shoot them or whack them real hard with a suitable implement. We use half inch mesh hardware cloth to make our coops, which has been effective so far. They have to be made real tight, because snakes can get through almost any gap.
Skunks and many other mammals will not hang around an area where common moth balls are present in sufficient quantity. We put them in any plastic container such as a soda or water bottle, drilled with holes, to keep them at bay. Replace moth balls once a month. Be sure your chickens cannot eat them, and have plenty of ventilation in order to avoid poisoning the birds you are protecting.