Big Problem With Ground Squirrels

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by josie705, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. josie705

    josie705 Just Hatched

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    Awhile ago, I had a rooster that had obviously been really injured. I figured that he had been in a fight with the other rooster and patched him up. The next day I found him dead with half his body down a squirrel hole. I didn't think much of it at the time as I though he had died of his injuries and a squirrel had found him before me.

    Well just this morning I found one of my chickens dead and half eaten. The chest cavity was empty. Well it was a bantam so it couldn't of been a raccoon or a opossum. I did some investigating and found some shocking evidence.

    Behind the dog igloo was a hole into my coop and ground squirrel droppings everywhere. I compared the droppings to rats, and it didn't match but it matched the squirrel droppings.

    If there is a squirrel or squirrels in my chicken coop that would explain my two chicken deaths, how fast the food goes and why I am not getting any eggs from my egg breeds.

    What should I do about this ground squirrel problem and has anyone had with problem with squirrels attacking and killing adult chickens?
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    You may have a problem with ground squirrels eating chicken feed but they aren't killing your chickens.

    Why couldn't a raccoon or opossum kill and eat a bantam? Raccoons and opossums have killed and eaten all sorts of chickens here, as have mink, dogs, coyotes and fox.

    I think you have multiple issues going on. If you're talking about a squirrel similar to a chipmunk, they will eat grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, etc. but not chickens.
    weasels and mink live in similar holes and they will kill lots of chickens.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  3. josie705

    josie705 Just Hatched

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    Actually I have heard that ground squirrels will kill young chickens time from time.

    And with how cleanly this chicken was eaten, it couldn't of been a raccoon or opossum. Their heads wouldn't be able to fit in the hole and there would of been a lot more meat gone along with the head chewed on. It's a big problem at my work and I see it all the time unfortunately. Plus, my chicken pen is still secure except for the hole(that is now buried in by pure chicken poop and a brick). An adult raccoon or opossum couldn't fit through the hole so it would have been a small one that wasn't experienced enough to kill like this.

    As for weasels and mink, I live in California. Very very unlikely. Foxes don't live around here, too much human activity. The coup is inside my ram pen, so any coyote or dog goes in there will have to face them and I will hear that commotion and interfere, as the rams are very noisy. We have skunks, but you can smell if a skunk has visited, so not a skunk.

    That leaves rat or ground squirrels and with the amount of squirrel activity and no rat droppings, I'm going with the squirrels.

    These ground squirrels are pretty massive out here. They are about a foot long not including their tail (no joke). We measured one that the neighbor killed a year back at 13 1/3 inches. We were given some barn cats that catch the babies in spring, so their numbers have dwindled, but they don't go up against the adults.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
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  4. Zoomie

    Zoomie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ground squirrels can be a problem, no doubt... I have never had one kill a bird though.

    Your issue is exactly why my new coop has a cement floor, and the other one is 30" up in the air! There is a problem with rodents burrowing in to a coop, then snakes or weasels finding the holes and on and on. If it's possible, I'd suggest cementing in your floor. Covering holes with chicken poop or a brick won't solve the problem. Or alternatively, put down very strong fine wire mesh and firmly and cleanly fasten it all around so there is not the slightest gap.

    See if you can get one of those really cool step-on feeders that are not open all the time. Taking away an obvious food supply like that will really help to move the rodents on to a new home. In my case, I had to stop feeding the wild birds, as they were coming for the free bird seed, and then sticking around to ruin my garden etc.

    In the end though, a ground squirrel is simply a type of rat that we call "squirrel" instead of "rat"... a friend pointed out that if Lewis and Clarke had called the prairie dog the "prairie rat", people would probably not think they were so "cute" and my field would not now be overrun with them. (They were brought in by people trapping and moving them, they are not native to where I live.) And speaking of that, in my state, and a couple of others, it is illegal to trap and move ground squirrels, due to the tremendous amount of damage they do every year to crops and so on. So don't try trapping and moving them without first checking to see if that is even legal, and even if it is legal, please don't do it anyway. I am sure your neighbors would not want an importation of giant, chicken-killing ground squirrels!
     
  5. josie705

    josie705 Just Hatched

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    Thanks for the idea about the wire! I decided earlier that I was for sure going to put down a floor of treated plywood. Putting down cement would need quite an expensive permit unfortunately. Now I'm thinking I could put down wire, then put down the plywood, and just to be safe fasten more wire on top of the plywood. Maintenance be more work as I will have to put shavings down, but at least I won't have to get out my pellet gun...I hope.
     
  6. Zoomie

    Zoomie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, a pellet gun is a real temporary solution... Like with the mice here, you can trap and kill 10, and that night they'll have 100 babies to take their place... Naturally I have to keep up my eradication program to keep their numbers in check, but still, it's far better if you just have a facility that is impervious to their digging, chewing etc.

    I would also recommend putting wire at the bottom of your coop, if it is wood. Whatever is causing these issues can probably gnaw wood. Preventing them from digging in will cause them to resort to more extreme solutions. Yes, it is more work, but on the other hand, at least you will have chickens - and eggs!
     
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    If you think an adult raccoon can't fit in a small hole, you're fooling yourself. If you think a young raccoon can't kill and eat a chicken, you're fooling yourself. Sometimes they'll eat a couple bites, sometimes they'll eat half the bird, sometimes they'll just kill it and leave it lay.
    Raccoons chewed a less than 3 inch hole in a coop door and killed every bird but only ate some of 3 birds.
    If you think you don't have mink or weasels, you're kidding yourself. However they usually just kill everything in a building without eating anything. But they can fit into a 1" opening. I know, I lost $4,000 of chickens in 5 secure coops to mink one summer.


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    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
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  8. josie705

    josie705 Just Hatched

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    An adult raccoon can fit in a small space yes...a squirrel hole in nomflexible hard clay is a different matter. And I don't think that I'm kidding myself when I say there are no mink and weasels out here. I LIVE in the Central Valley of California. No mink OR weasels. If there were for some odd reason, my rabbit that runs around all day and then sleeps in the hutch in the coop probably would have been killed first (and yes she is too fat to go through that hole). A young raccoon that could fit down that squirrel hole has got to be too young to leave its mother. A squirrel or rat is the ONLY possible predator out here in this area that could squeeze through a hole like that, and with the droppings lacking evidence of rats, it looks like the ground squirrels are the culprit.
     
  9. Jeepnut58

    Jeepnut58 New Egg

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    We used have trouble with ground squirrels I set rat traps around the outside of our house these little burgers were climbing my tomatoes plants and taking big bites out the tomatoes. for bait use peanut butter and mix in sunflower seed. That worked for us.I caught 21 ground squirrels in 3 weeks.never had a ground squirrel problem again.you may want drill a hole in trap to steak down to the ground so a cat doesn't take the trap and squirrel away.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
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