Ground Squirrels? Now, I have to protect against Ground Squirrels???

JBarnhart

Chirping
Feb 17, 2019
12
20
54
Ok. So, perhaps you all know about this, already. But, I had no freaking idea that ground squirrels would try to steal my chicks!!!! What next? Must I guard against caterpillars also? Killer bunnies, wilding around in packs?

I was sitting outside with my 11 chicks today. I do not let them out, unsupervised, because the hawks, geese, and even other chickens, will get them if they can. I am armed with a large, deep sea fishing net, in case a hawk grabs one right in front of me, as has happened before. And, I sit there. I do not wander off to pull weeds, or go grab some tea. I stay there, and they wander around, but never more than about ten feet from me.

Today, I was watching the antics of one set of babies, when one began to scream behind me. I whipped around in time to see a ground squirrel, running for all he was worth, with a chick dangling from his mouth! I was flabbergasted! I shouted, and went after them. He dragged the baby into a blackberry thicket, and, I was so panicked, because my imagination kindly supplied me with an image of the horror the chick would go through, if it was taken underground. I could hardly stand it!

I began yelling louder, and beating on the bushes with my net, like a madwoman, and suddenly, out ran the chick! I was so relieved! She ran, and hid in an old feeder that was nearby. She looked, and still looks, so frightened! I held her, with no resistance, for a couple of hours. Then, I put her back with her gang.

She has two scrapes, or punctures, on her thigh. There was almost no blood, and she can walk, although it is clearly painful. I smeared some topical antibacterial stuff on it, and it does not seem inflamed. But, she is really traumatized!

She just huddles, off by herself, all puffed out, as though she were cold. She won't take food or water now, though she did, at first. I am so afraid that the experience will cause her to give up, and die!

What does anyone think of that? Any suggestions about the chick, or dealing with the squirrels I used to think were cute?
.Thank you so very much for any input!
I'm so sorry you & her had to endure that. Ive never heard of squirrels doing that.
 
Nov 11, 2020
1,598
2,736
286
West Virginia
You w
Poor little thing. She's in shock.

Did you flush out the punctures in her leg? She may need antibiotics if it shows the slightest sign of infection.

Keep her warm. I would give her some Poultry Nutri-drench along the side of her beak so it wicks in and she swallows it. Give her water that way too to keep her hydrated. If that perks her up, you can offer her a mash of her feed. I would put a little egg yolk in it or crumble up some tuna or sardines for extra nutrition to help with the shock.

If you can get her through the shock, she should recover from her injuries.

Ground squirrels describe many different species. Can you post a picture of what you have in your area? They are omnivores and will snatch up small animals if the opportunity arises. Rabbits are herbivores so you are at least safe from them!
Squirrels were never on my radar before now but thanks to you I know to look out for them too! Kudo's to you for bravely fighting for it and attacking the thickets so the squirrel let it go!You have what it takes to be a great chicken momma! Keep up the good work and don't let all this predator "drama" get you down! Bless you for your kind heart!You did your best!
 

DarkWater1929

Songster
6 Years
Jan 27, 2015
209
151
171
Redding, California
Chickens are prey animals and nature provides them some pitiful amount of grace because let's face it, they are going to be eaten alive. Prey animals go in shock when caught, pain receptors can shut down.

Example, anyone with a horse background can tell you about twitches. They mimic a predator grabbing a horse by the nose while the rest of the pack cuts their legs out from under them by going for the tendons in the hind feet. We have some types of dogs that either can be trained or have the instinct to grab even a bull by the nose and that forty pound dog can hold a 2000 pound bull.

The twitch is a loop of rope on the end of a stick, you put the loop around part of the nose and twist tight and the horse is immobilized. I have had old timers castrate horses while I hold the twitch and the horse never moves or makes a sound.

So my guess is that the shock kicks in and the poor chick is doomed at that point. Not sure if anything would prevent it but maybe keeping the chick warm might help?
Wow! I had not known that this was why a twitch was effective! I just guessed that it was sufficiently maddening, that they didn't pay attention to anything else. That is an eye opener! Thank you!

We have two cow dogs. One always goes for the nose. The other, once she gets mad, goes for the ridge above the eye! Animals are amazing, no matter their size.
 
Jul 19, 2020
35
95
61
Clearlake, CA
Thank you so very much! I hope that I am not too late. I will do as you suggest, right away. She is much worse this morning. She slept with me last night, for safety and warmth. But, this morning she is utterly droopy. Refuses food and water. I will use the technique you describe. I hope I am in time.

No, I didn't clean the wound. I agonized over the decision, but she is so tiny and delicate. I was afraid that the stress of having that done, too, would be too much.

Oh, blast. As I have been typing this, she had died. She just never came back from the horror of it, I think. Poor baby! I wish I had done more of what you suggested, sooner. Thank you both anyway for your help! This is a picture of the little .... rodents. California Ground Squirrel. They destroy all of the concrete , make holes for cattle, horses and people to twist their legs in, ruin my garden, and now, murder babies. Our 4 dogs go after them, and get a fair number, but not enough to thin tbe population. I never felt hate for a critter, until I got chickens, and began having to protect them. I know that is irrational, but I can't seem to help it.

Thank you again!
So sorry for your loss. I went out this afternoon to check on my flock and we too have a horrible ground squirrel problem. And ours are HUGE. (Seriously, they have moved an 8 ft long 4 x 4 beam along one edge of my run!!!) they had burrowed into Elvis’s run (I have 3 runs because I have 3 roosters) and killed him and halfway dragged him into the burrow. (Elvis was a very small bantam rooster and the sweetest guy. He has his coop and run with Marble, my bantam frizzle and Opal, another bantam, not too sure of her breed) I’ve been in tears. He was about 6 months old maybe 7. My grandson would put a harness and leash on him and take him for walks) we are gonna get more hardware cloth and put it all around their run now too and then get a load of top soil to cover. I feel like I’m constantly on guard to keep the predators away too. Again sorry for your loss
 

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