Squirrel - Chicken Pests - How To Protect Your Chickens From Squirrels

Because they are a member of the rodent family, squirrels are known to prey on small snakes, birds, young chickens, fellow rodents, and lizards.
By BYC Support · Jan 10, 2012 · Updated Jun 19, 2013 · ·
  1. BYC Support

    General Information & Description

    Squirrels belong to the large rodent order called Sciuridae. They are generally small furry mammals that are smaller than rabbits. The largest variety, the Alpine marmot, measures 22-29 inches from nose to tail. Squirrels have large eyes, indicative of a good visual sense. This is an evolutionary necessity among tree-dwelling animals.

    They hunt in the daytime, except for the flying squirrel, which is more nocturnal. Most ground squirrels are social and known to hunt in packs, while tree dwellers are more solitary. They easily adapt to human settlements and are an attraction in parks where visitors feed them while sitting on benches. Even though they can be tamed, they don’t really make good pets as they can be quite aggressive and require legal permits in many areas.


    Squirrels can thrive in almost any habitat from semi-arid deserts to tropical rainforests. If you live in close proximity to a forested area, expect tree and ground squirrels to visit your pen during the spring months when their buried nuts start to sprout and they search for new food. This is often the time of the year when some squirrels assume the role of a predator and eat small birds and eggs from their nests, as well as worms, snakes, and insects.

    Methods of Kill

    Because they are a member of the rodent family, squirrels are known to prey on small snakes, birds, young chickens, fellow rodents, and lizards. Their teeth follow the same structure of typical rodents with large incisors for gnawing and molars that can grind both nuts and flesh. Squirrels have been reported to visit chicken farms and leave with eggs the way they do with wood nuts and conifers. Squirrels are generally shy rodents that will readily scamper away. When faced with hunger, they can go after your chicken feed and steal eggs. Some farms with squirrels nearby often just feed them with nuts and seeds scattered around the periphery of their farms so they will not bother with their chicken coops.

    Prevention & Treatment

    Because squirrels are shy, you can just shoo them away. However, they can do considerable damage to your farm. Squirrels love eating chicken eggs and poultry feed, so collect eggs frequently and store feed in secure, preferably metal, storage cans for feed. The best way to prevent losses is to predator-proof your coop as best you can to keep these animals out. Electric fences are almost always a sure solution for small animal predators. If you can train large guard dogs like Rottweilers or Dobermans (which are also potential chicken predators if left untrained) to leave chickens alone protect your fowls instead, they can frighten away squirrels, raccoons, foxes, and bobcats if you happen to live near densely forested areas. The rest is often a matter of ensuring that there are no weak spots in your chicken coops that will invite squirrels in to steal your eggs. Keep in mind, however, that squirrels often steal eggs as a last resort. A very effective method of dealing with problem squirrels is by setting a trap.

    For more discussions on squirrels and how to deal with them visit the Predators and Pests section of the forum.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. alexa009
    "Not A Dangerous Predator."
    3/5, 3 out of 5, reviewed Nov 20, 2018
    I always had a lot of trees in my area (including the chicken pen,) drawing a lot of squirrels in the run and everywhere else. They are a predator of food managing to grab some pellets here and there but are scared of the hens and don't like to bother with the 6 week old chicks. Otherwise, perfect article!
  2. rjohns39
    "Nice Article"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 9, 2018
  3. ronott1
    "good article"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 26, 2018
    Another article in the predator and pests series. Be sure to click the links


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  1. ellend
    Re: "aggressive" squirrels: They shouldn't be kept as pets because it's not fair to THEM! If unable to be released "safely," the problem with a pet Fox squirrel is their incredibly sharp nails, which really scratch when they playfully climb you like a telephone pole or tree....
    They LOVE to have their lower jaws massaged, right behind the lower teeth, btw.. And snuggle down the back of your shirt.
    Yep, they're demons, all right.
  2. ellend
    Have 60+ yrs experience with squirrels. Puzzzled by ''need" for this post. The larger, browner Fox squirrels are NOT a problem. Scared of bantams, as noted. During breeding season, the smaller Gray Squirrels are full of raging hormones and are harder to scare, but I've never heard of them being a problem. Almost any creature will eat eggs it stumbles across. Tiny red squirrels ditto.
    How about just leaving them alone?
  3. sylviecolin
    we tried to scare them away, but they are really not shy. we found one of our eggs outside the coop.
  4. ellend
    Yes, technically rodents, but sciuridae, not rats. Big difference.
    Poison is HORRIBLY CRUEL and PROLONGED, and humans that poison should go to a VERY hot place for a LONG vacation.
    We hand-feed our squirrels, and they are afraid of my 1 pound bantams--all hens. Our dog likes to steal eggs, though.
  5. tommysgirl
    Thanks for this. I had no idea squirrels went after eggs until I lost two today and squirrels were the only logical explanation...I was blaming the jays but the case today would not have been an easy one to pin on a jay. very informative and helpful!
  6. ellend
    Agreed! I'm a bit puzzled by this post; my tiny young bantams scare our squirrels just by moving toward them! And these are squirrels that are so accustomed to us that they knock on the door and windows for a treat, and nearly get stepped on outside. In the summer I have to guard my bare toes when sitting outdoors, because if the nuts don't appear, they get confused and start speculating that my toes look kind of like peanuts... Never a problem with them and the chickens, but ours are fox squirrels; larger but more social than many others.
  7. Seatrout00
    Rat traps work well - as do standard snare traps with slabs of rock - as does rat shot in a .22 rifle - poison is a really bad idea and cruel to the squirrels (or anyone who injests it - including other animals that eat a poisoned squirrel).
  8. abdeali mh
    you are rite
  9. red hen in the rain
    Poison is never a good idea. There are always alternatives.

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