Can you help me identify the nighttime predator killing my chickens?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by vanalpaca, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. vanalpaca

    vanalpaca Songster

    Mar 18, 2011
    Clyde in NW Ohio
    For the last week I have been finding dead stripped chickens inside my coop. There is a hole where it has burrowed into the coop. I finally put down pieces of plywood and it still pushed in after burrowing underground deep into the coop and not just under the wall and back up.

    The chickens have their heads wings tails and feet on and are completely stripped of all meat and entrails. The first time I found 3 dead chickens. I go to the farm every other day. The next 2 times I found 5 dead chickens. My plywood floor worked a bit better as yesterday I only found 1 dead stripped chicken so it must have taken it a lot longer to find a way up inside. All thoroughly stripped of meat and the carcass still intact.

    I only found round 1 inch holes in the sand that were the paw prints. The varmit stays inside the coop and eats every kill completely and leaves.

    I have dug 1 foot down all around and placed fist sized to almost head sized rocks and pavers all around the outside of the coop. The varmit dug under and all along underneath the plywood on the floor of the coop until it found a place it could enter.

    I dug out the floor so it is now flat, put down my 3x4 plywood. Put down 2 x 16 inch pavers in the gap one way and 18 x 1 round pavers the other way and put the pallet roost back up. It is more thoroughly covered and weighted and held down than it was before. there are still some 2x3 gaps or so. I am hoping it will be safe as I have lots half my flock and my show birds.

    My next thought is to pull everything out again, nail 1 inch chicken wire across the whole floor and put all the plywood down. Nail plywood to each other so it is a completely covered floor without even an inch gap.

    Problem is if I don't identify and catch this varmit I have 2 other coops that are vulnerable.

    Any one have an idea of what will strip every bit of meat off the carcass but leave it intact and can burrow deep into the ground. I just found little one inch paw prints, not distinctive in the sand and it is about a 3-4 inch hole.......carcasses all left inside the coop stripped to the bone and intact.
  2. I'm thinking skunk, possibly fox? If you want to know for sure, get a trail camera set up in the coop. That's what I did (cam outside) & found 2 big raccoons in chicken yard. Once you know your enemy, you can better plan how to deal with it. Like what size trap to use. I set up a live trap inside the coop with opening facing the open pop door. A trail of sardines or equally smelly bait might just do the trick. If its a fox, will be harder to trap. You need to get human scent off of trap with a spray you can get at Walmart hunting/camping section. Then you bait a few feet from trap & slowly, over a week's time, get that bait closer to trap & in it. Fox will let its guard down. Heard a few chicken wings work great! Just a snack every nite to keep him coming. Once caught, best thing is to shoot it. Skunk, I don't know what I'd do with a trapped skunk? Haven't had any. Good luck! In sure someone will chime in soon!
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
  3. shmccarthy

    shmccarthy Songster

    Mar 27, 2013
    Sounds like a fox, especially with the digging, they are master diggers. And what Shellz said ^ I would get a trail cam and see what is coming, that way you know the best way to handle it.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Cams a great idea, especially since you are not living on the coop premises.

    Unless I missed it, you didn't mention how big the hole/tunnel was that it dug. I'm thinking weasel.

    Aprons are good for deterring diggers, for weasels you'd need a fairly small mesh, smaller than 1".

    Good Luck!
  5. I thought of weasels too, but then a 1" paw print? Started rethinking not a skunk either with paw that size....
    I do know for certain that a fox can slip through gaps of only 4". Raccoons you wouldn't believe how flat they can get! Wish I kept the pics of the one that got away. He just chewed out one row of small wires at the bottom & squeezed thru. Incredible! Havahart traps are not strong enough to hold a coon for long, unless you can somehow put that trap into a larger dog crate & anchor it against a permanent structure.

    So for ramble, but sounds like a fox!
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    If sand was dry weasel could leave an indentation approx. 1"
    Knowing tunnel size would help.
    Cam pics or video would be irrefutable.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
  7. Ah yes. I didn't consider other environmental factors. Very good there aart!

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