Half-eaten chick in coop- dirty rats?


In the Brooder
11 Years
Jun 8, 2008
st augustine florida
Well, they say when you get livestock you end up with some deadstock... I asked you last week about coop security for the chicks I was awaiting. Twelve out of twelve hatched under our lovely broody Evangelina Pilgrim. All seemed well last night and this morning, or so I thought. Now I don't know, since I didn't officially count them all.

Anyway today all the chicks were running around in the dog crate cage with mama hen. I've been leaving the door to the crate open since the chicks were getting out anyway. I've noticed some chicks would follow Mama out and forget how to get back in, and end up under the mesh floor of the crate, under Mama, that being as close as they could get to her.

This afternoon as I opened the main door to free range the hens, I noticed Evangelina was missing a black chick, and we found it half eaten under the crate, right under the nest.
At first I thought perhaps a hen had pecked it half to death while broody sat on the nest with the rest, but when I saw it, all its intestines gone, back bone bitten through I don't think it's a hen.

A rat? My husband says he's seen one hanging around the coop at night. Will a rat take a chick? Would my broody defend her chicks at night when she's sleepy, if a rat came prowling? Could a rat have come in the night and taken a chick from the nest? :thun When she was sleepy and more docile? She's formidable during the day, but at night? Or if it was that the chick never made it back into the crate and the nest, would she have been unable to defend her black chick because it was under the crate so she decided to stay in the crate with the 11 in the nest with her? (Sorry for sounding garbled, I'm upset and want to stop it happening again.)

We don't leave windows open in there, unless they're meshed, but I know there must be gaps (it's a small one room trailer, stripped down) because when broody was sitting and hardly eating, her feed was going down really fast, and no one else could get in her crate to eat it, and there were rat poops in her water.

The chick doesn't smell. It must be very recent. Do rats come out in the day? I mean, this is Florida, land of insects, and the chick only has a moderate amount of ants on it. The wings weren't even stiff. i.e. it's recent, right? Therefore daytime death? Or from last night but the rigor mortis wore off? I'm trying to work out if this was a nocturnal or diurnal attack. And it must have been that the chick left the crate, got disoriented and hid under the crate, under the nest box. And there something got it. Or it was snatched from the crate and taken there to be eaten.

I'm sure we have raccoons, but we don't have gaps big enough for them. Plus the gap under the crate isn't big enough. What else could it be? What can I do to stop other deaths? (I could lower the crate onto the floor so no chicks hide under it... I raised it up so the poop would fall through the mesh floor.)



The Great Guru of Yap
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Aug 25, 2008
The Carpal Tunnel Rehab Center
Wow, that had to be really heartbreaking to find that chick like that. I am so sorry
. I know rats are out in the day time. They hide, but they are there. Do you have traps for the rats outside the coop area? I also know that mice and rats can fit in VERY small places. I hope you find out what the predator is before you lose more.


In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 4, 2008
Springfield Colorado
Im sorry for what happened.

I used to raise fancy rats and learned that rats can get through a hole the size of a quarter (mice can get through one the size of a dime) and yes they are also omnivores and will eat meat/live things.

Your best bet if it is rats would likely be traps, relocation type traps wont work as they will find you again.


the bird is the word
11 Years
Sep 14, 2008
Adair Co., KY
Yeah I was going to say pretty much the same as the others. Racoons can also get through small openings. All they need is to be able to get their heads in, and they're in. And rats/mice are mostly nocturnal, but they do come out in the day as well, so it doesn't necesarily have to be an over-night thing. I would think she would try to defend her chicks. I had a hen that was taken right off the nest when she was hatching. She only had one chick hatched, and we found the chick on the floor. My dad said the hen probably jumped out of the box, and the chick was stuck in her feathers and fell out. It could possibly be that the chick didn't go in the nest. I don't know tho, sorry about your loss... :aww

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