Bold Predator got my chicks HELP!


8 Years
Feb 14, 2011
Huntsville, Alabama
Last night I was about an hour late locking the coop. All the bigger chickens where on their roosts
but I had two younger chickens that were in the habit of roostering under the coop, requiring me to
put them in every night. The run they were in is a solid 6 foot fence with a four foot gate. They also
have a big, albeit lazy dog just outside the run. A big picture window faces the coop and is about 5 feet
away the lights were on and people were on the other side. I went out and found the chicks missing and
searched all over with a flashlight without luck. The next morning I found the body of one, uninjured except it was
missing its head, (I will spare you a photo) on the other side of fence where the dog was, maybe two feet away the other
chick was long gone and probably eaten. Once before when I was late, like 20 minutes after dark something grabbed a half grown chick. That time I
heard something rapidly running away. I live in suburbia but we coyotes, foxes, loose dogs/cats, owls and
opposums. There is also some kind of rat, it looks cleaner and smaller than a city rat with a long tail. What's bothering
me is something is lurking about and grabs a chick every single time I'm just a little late locking them in. The first time I was late was months ago. What is so fearless and sneaky it will go around/near a dog and have people that could see them if they looked through the window, but of course no one did and be able to take off
with two sturdy chicks unnoticed? Oh, there were deep scratch marks in the ground facing the fence which could of been my dogs, but not likely, and no mess or loose
feathers or sign of struggle. All the other chickens were very calm. I'm real puzzled. I need to know what it is so I can take measures to stop
them. (electric wire around the fence will stop climbers but not owls)

I guess the 3 clues to the identity are (1) Very Bold (2) Always lurking about, (we do back to woods) (3) eats head off but leaves body alone.

Thanks for any suggestions or guesses or similar problem.
We have had chickens disappear in the middle of the day and find there bodies a little bit later with their head or head and wings missing. We think its a fox thats getting ours because we have seen him in the yard and all over the olace so that could be what is getting your chickens. An owl probably wont go inside of the coop to get a chick though so thats probably not your problem
i'm so sorry about your chicks. i would rule out foxes and coyotes because they take more than one bird at once and eat the whole body. I would also doubt it would be an owl or hawk because they eat the whole bird. My guess would be either a racoon or an opossum since, but they do also eat meat from the breast area of the bird. If you live near water it could be a mink or weasel, but they are usually quite shy.
perhaps a fence would help, or you could try trapping.Once again, i'm sorry about your chicks.
I'm pretty sure raccoons, possums, and weasels eat the heads and leave the bodies. Most of those can be pretty "used" to humans too, as they forage in dumpsters and such. I would assume that it is a smaller predator (not a wolf/coyote/fox/dog), as they tend to take the whole animal.
Try screening off the area where the little ones hang out, maybe they will move inside. Also try removing any ramp or ladder to the door and wrap the coop legs with metal to stop critters from climbing in. If you suspect a bird predator, throw a fruit tree net or deer fence over the top.

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