Does this sound like a snake? (graphic description)

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by phoenix, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. phoenix

    phoenix Hatching

    Jun 18, 2007
    This morning I found my 6-month-old female mallard beheaded and with an empty chest cavity in a well-fenced goat pen where she liked to hang out. No other damage except to her upper torso that I could see. We have snakes in the area: racers, rat snakes, and I saw my first rattlesnake in nearly 5 years near the pen a couple of weeks ago. I can't think of another predator that would do that kind of damage.

    I'm leaning toward the rattler as I had a racer and a ratsnake living in the chicken coop this past summer with nothing more than the loss of a few eggs (at least until the hens started laying outside and we started losing a lot more eggs!). I have mainly standard-size chickens, which are bigger than the sweet little mallard was, but I also have 4 bantams that are smaller.

    The other frequent predators in the area are hawks and owls and coyotes, though I'm pretty certain it wasn't any of them because there weren't feathers or other marks save for a ripped-up shoulder. I know snakes will generally swallow prey head first, so that fits, but would they be able to decapitate a duck if they couldn't swallow it whole? I have the little mallard's mate to watch out for as well as four Pekin ducks and a rooster in my backyard, and a flock of 27 chickens that free-range nearby.

  2. rosecreek

    rosecreek In the Brooder

    Aug 19, 2009
    Several years ago, we had several mallard duck beheaded in one night. Very little blood was left. They were just beheaded and left on the pond bank. We were told it could have been a weasel or something like that. Recently, we had several chickens done the same way. In that instance, I caught a fox in the act. She was leaving them laying around and teaching her young how to hunt.
  3. BeccaOH

    BeccaOH Morning Gem Farm

    Oct 3, 2008
    east central Ohio
    A coon did a similar kill description to my neighbor's pet duck -- at least they believe it was coon. They had lost ducks the year before to coons.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  4. wateboe

    wateboe Songster

    Sep 8, 2008
    Lebanon, Ohio
    I wouldn't suspect a snake, but rather a four-footed or two-winged type of predator. There would need to be a decent set of tearing teeth or sharp beak to do that sort of damage.

  5. charlindabob

    charlindabob Songster

    Jan 25, 2009
    central Florida
    99.9% sure it was not a snake.
  6. lleighmay

    lleighmay Songster

    May 21, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    Definitely not a snake- they are incapable of dismembering their prey.
  7. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

    May 18, 2009
    Don't snakes swallow their prey whole? I would be more inclined to think raccoon or possum.

  8. clhbubba

    clhbubba Songster

    Nov 9, 2008
    Central Oklahoma
    Snakes do not behead nor gut their prey, they eat their prey whole. Probably a possum or a coon. Coyotes carry their prey off, as well as hawks(leave a feather mess where they eat). I had a possum last fall that would eat the head and guts of my ducks/chickens. He's gone.
  9. Kev

    Kev Crowing

    Jan 13, 2008
    Sun City, California
    Read owls often just take the head and neck and just leave most of the carcass.

    I've lost chicks to snakes before, if they killed a chick they could not swallow, it was very, very obvious.. the head and neck would be "completely slimed" because they could not get their jaws around the shoulders and/or the wings. They never managed to pull any part off.. they would just disgorge the head and neck out of their mouth(that's how it got slimed) and go away if they could not swallow the whole thing.

  10. newchickmom09

    newchickmom09 Songster 9 Years

    Jul 15, 2009
    I have to agree with everyone else not a snake. Something else with paws or a strong beak. You would be amazed what some animals can get into just for a quick snack.

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