Dead chicks every morning in sealed coup


Aug 1, 2016
I have about 15 chickens and 25 adolescent chick (about halfway to being full grown) For the last 4 days I've found a dead chick when I open the coup every morning. This morning there were 3 dead chicks. One of them was torn into 3 pieces. And also one of our full grown hens has most of her butt feathers missing as of this morning. I am stumped. The usual suspect is a skunk, but I've recently plugged up all possible openings. There are just a few cracks, nothing close to big enough to allow a skunk through. The only thing I can think of is a rat, because I also found a hole in the corner with lots of feathers around it... But it's in a very difficult spot surrounded by vairous wood structures so it's hard tell if it's really a tunnel or just a place that the chickens try to hide. There is no exit hole anywhere near the coup and it is also very very small, only a rat or mouse could enter through it if it is in fact a tunnel.

What do you think this is? I would say a rat but does a rat rip a mid-sized chick into 3 pieces? These chicks are now twice the size of the largest rat I can imagine, but there are simply so openings big enough to allow anything else. Could the missing butt feathers on my hen be related to this? I am new to having chickens, I've only been working on this property for a month. I'm in big trouble if this doesn't stop soon.


Just to be more specific about the bodies of the dead chicks. One was missing it's head, one had only its head and wings but no body, and one was fully intact with an exposed bloody neck. The feet show no signs of chewing. It's really looking like a raccoon or a skunk, but there is absolutely no way a critter of that size could get in.
From what I've read anything bigger than a 1/2" hole a small (and deadly) weasel can get through. But, I thought that most of the time they killed for the fun of it rather eating the prey.


ETA: Went and did some reading and they definitely will eat the prey...but will kill more than they can eat at one time, often stashing it for later consumption. The only one we would have in hour area would be the large long tailed weasel but in talking with someone who has trapped a good bit he says that it has been a long time since he saw one here in south Alabama...but I'm sure there's still a few around here, somewhere.
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How small a hole can these critters fit through? I don't have any openings larger that 2 inches

Small weasels can easily fit through a 1" hole, and yes that mouse sized weasel can and will kill chickens... This is why it's recommended you have no holes larger than 1/2"... A 2" hole will allow even bigger species of weasels/minks entry...

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Thanks for the replies. I am located in New Mexico, just outside of Santa Fe. I overestimated the size of the openings in my coup. There is definitely nothing bigger than an a few millimeters. But on further inspection of that hole in the ground of the coup, it might be a half inch at most. It goes under an immovable wooden structure in the middle of the coup. I've looked everywhere around the coup, no exit holes. It must go deep and far away. But I found feathers in the hole so that must be it. I just can't imagine anything getting through there. A snake wouldn't leave behind such a mess right?

I'm thinking about pulling an all-nighter in the chicken pen with my gun pointed at the hole. Will the weasel smell me and not come if I do that? I don't know how to trap. I assume plugging the hole won't do anything because it will just dig another hold right? I'll check those links.
If you think it is the floor I would lay down some 1/4 or 1/2 inch hardware cloth and cover with soil and stake in with landscaping nails/stakes (u-shaped).... stop anything....
As previously stated, weasels (and rats) can get through a very small hole. I would try to block that hole off. I don't know what you'd accomplish by sitting in the coop all night. If it doesn't smell you (which it probably would) it would most likely see you before you see it. (You'd need a light on so you can see it coming through the hole, right?)

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