Help solving a predator mystery...

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by ducklover15, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. My boyfriend has been raising turkeys this year and forgot to put them away one night last week.

    When he went outside in the morning he found two dead birds and one with a big wound. The two dead were found right up against the fence with their entire head and neck missing. It looked like something reached through the fence and pulled until the head, neck and spinal cord detached. The one that was still alive had a huge wound on it neck and food was leaking from the crop. It also had some wounds at the base of it wings.

    Any one know what kind of animal might have done this? We've been setting live traps but we've caught nothing...we're really confused.

    We have raccoons, opossums, skunks, weasels, muskrats, vultures, hawks, coyotes, ...and I think that's it. We have small predators. We figure the turkeys could have been attacked in the evening, night or early morning.

    Thanks for any help!
  2. ksbmom

    ksbmom In the Brooder

    Jul 2, 2008
    Sounds like a raccoon to me. We had one get into our coop about 3 weeks ago and kill one bird and injure another so severely that she died soon after. The dead one sounds like your turkey - the whole head was torn almost off and the neck ripped out. Not fun. We had the same thing happen a year previous to that, and it looked exactly like what you said - like the raccoon reached in and just pulled the bird to pieces. Sorry it had to happen - I hate it!
  3. Denninmi

    Denninmi Songster

    Jul 26, 2009
    Well, my money would be on the coons, but almost anything on your list might do it (I don't know about muskrats, I thought they were vegetarians?).
  4. DragonEggs

    DragonEggs Songster

    May 11, 2010
    Borger, TX
    Definitly sounds like how a coon does things. I'm always paranoid about my chickens sleeping up against the sides of their cages because of that
  5. Plain_View_Farm

    Plain_View_Farm Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Central Virginia
    My vote would be coon also...
    Sorry for your loss,,

  6. ziggywiggy

    ziggywiggy Songster

    May 25, 2009
    McNeal, AZ
    Sounds like owls to me. Owls will hunt in groups now also. The mother is teaching the young ones how to hunt.
    I've had this happen a few times and never could figure out what it was because there were no tracks or any animal sign. Plus I set traps and never caught anything. Then one night I heard a comotion and went out and found a Great Horned owl after my Turkeys.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010
  7. Tunastopper

    Tunastopper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2010
    Bob cats will reach through fences and eat whatever they can grab.
  8. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    Most owls eat only field mice, shrews, voles and other similar fairly small vermin they can swallow whole. The only owl that is actually big enough to kill a chicken, let alone a turkey is a Great Horned Owl. They ARE however located all over North America year round, and they ARE very good hunters and wouldn't hesitate to go for a turkey... though they have quite a wingspan (3 to 5 feet across!) so a pen or run could interfere with them quite a bit.

    As someone said, any of the critters the OP listed could get them though I agree that I thought muskrats were mainly vegetarians too, but I read they ate frogs and mussels etc. I don't think they hunt or would kill chickens. Mink or weasels on the other hand WOULD! We live right on a river and there used to be a mink farm in the area... that released some when they went out of business, gee THANKS for THAT!!! Yes, I've lost some over the years to mink. No I don't have a coat now! [​IMG]

    Here's a list I made for another site I belong to, maybe it'll help a little. Some I've put in from personal experience, some from the experience of people I know and trust, some from reading though I'm pretty sure of the sources too.

    Dogs, Domestic Cats, Coyotes, Mink/Weasel/Martin, Raccoon, Raptors (Hawks/Eagles /Owls), People, Fox, Opossum, Skunk, Bear, Lynx, Mountain Lion, Cougar. I haven't said much about the lynx etc below because I don't have much real experience with them (I lived for 7 years where they were seen but they're very shy).

    Dog > By FAR!!!!! The Number one danger for most backyard flocks! Many birds in a flock will be mauled, killed, injured, dogs will chase and kill chickens for no good reason, to them it’s mostly “fun”. They’ll rarely eat any. Poorly kept dogs are a menace.

    Coyote > Somewhat like dogs, but they’ll come in pairs usually and scatter a flock, kill several because they get in a bit of a frenzy over all the wings and squawking etc, but then take away a couple out to the bush to eat. Once these guys find a likely source of food, they’ll return the next evening and the next and again and again.

    Domestic Cats > A feral cat could possibly kill a chicken, especially in an enclosed area, but it’s not easy and not common. Most people blame cats because they don’t realize how many raccoons, opossum, coyotes and fox are actually active in and very near cities and towns. Most well fed house-cats are pretty lame at trying to catch a chicken let alone kill one. It’s not impossible though.

    Various wild Cat species > I have limited experience with cats, I lived where Lynx were occasionally seen but they are very shy so never bothered us. Mountain Lions, Lynx, Bobcat, Puma etc will all take chickens if or when they can. They will carry their prey off to a safe spot to eat it where they feel safe. Once they find a source of easy food they tend to visit again periodical for another try.

    Mink/weasel/martin > Several killed, a lot of small bites, some portions eaten, especially heads and bellies. Mink do kill animals much larger than themselves and are incredibly fierce for their size. I have these since I live on a river… they're tricky to protect against, smart, agile, sneaky and hunt all hours of the day and night.

    Raccoon > Several birds may be killed or just one. Raccoons will often just eat the heads and crops. Because of their very dexterous paws, if a raccoon can't can’t get into a coop or enclosure but can reach a chicken through a fence or opening, it will ‘grab’ a chicken and hold onto it while it dismembers it. (yeah, gross I know)

    Hawk > One bird gone, a pile of feathers in an open area. Other parts nearby, sometimes only head eaten, depends on time of year (feeding young etc). Not all hawks will kill chickens, so don’t get worried about every sighting. The most likely ones are of the group called, “Broadwing Hawks” which is a larger type of hawk that includes: Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Rough-legged hawk, Ferruginous hawk and also, the Goshawk which is mostly in the very northern tier of the US and up into Canada.

    Owl > a lot like hawks, but owls usually (most say exclusively) hunt at night. IMO they also hunt in the very early dawn, and at dusk too. Most owls eat only field mice, shrews, voles and other similar fairly small vermin they can swallow whole. The only owl that is actually big enough to kill a chicken is a Great Horned Owl. Keep your chickens in a coop at night, they’ll be safe from these guys.

    People > Several birds gone, no sign of predator… yeah, it happens.

    Fox > Several birds killed, usually by a broken neck, only one taken away. You may find part of a corpse and/or feathers nearby, they do take away and don’t like to eat in the coop.

    Opossum > One or two birds dead, mauled. Mostly bellies eaten.

    Skunk > Much like an Opossum, and they love eggs. Biggest clue is the smell of course, even if they don't spray, they'll leave scent.

    Bear > door gone off of coop, fence destroyed, etc. you all knew that right?
  9. aggieterpkatie

    aggieterpkatie Songster

    Apr 26, 2009
    How would an owl reach through the pen to get at them? I'm guessing raccoon, or maybe opposum. We lost a few ducks (only their heads/necks) to an opposum, though they were out of a cage when they were killed.
  10. Roy

    Roy Songster

    Jun 20, 2007
    Central Illinois

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