How Bloodthirsty Can Skunks Get?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Redcatcher, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. Redcatcher

    Redcatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2010
    At My Desk!
    I would almost consider myself to be an expert on skunks. I successfully rehabbed a litter of wild orphan babies once and even kept one of them as a pet for awhile. I have had them steal eggs in the past and caught them inside the chicken house eating layer pellets. But never once had one take a chicken to my knowledge. They seemed to be pretty scared of the chickens....Very timid and shy animals. Basically vegetarian. Well today there was mass carnage in the chicken coop. (If I seem apathetic right now, it is because I have resigned myself to it). It took the largest and heaviest of all the chickens. One was a favorite of mine (of course). I would have guessed a fox or coyote. BUT, when I went into the the coop I smelled SKUNK. Not just musky varmint odor but definitely skunk. Now, before I go blaming a skunk, I thought there could be a possibility too that this predator went after a skunk recently and got sprayed. Another thing that makes me wonder if it was a skunk was that the crows were back in the woods raising heck. And the birds were going nuts in the area. I have never seen that kind of panic over a skunk. It happened this afternoon but I know most predators will come out during the day when that is their only opportunity. So, all in all, four chickens are missing, one looks as if it died of a heart attack. One is chewed up but alive and should make it. Does this sound like a skunk attack? I know that they have the strength and capability to kill, but they also have extremely poor eyesight, can move lighting fast when they WANT too, but WOULD they????
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  2. bertman

    bertman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 13, 2011
    The agitation in the local bird population would point toward a raptor invasion. Our neighbor had a red-tailed hawk that flew into his run, through an allegedly small hole in the wire, and killed four of his hens.

    The skunky smell adds an element of mystery. Do raptors give off a musk when they are aroused and attacking prey?

    We have had our local birds freak out over owls attacking other birds' nests and stealing the young. This was in the late afternoon (dusk).

    Crows apparently have a hatred for hawks, so that might explain their activity.

    I'm sorry to hear about your birds.

    Good luck finding the culprit.

    P.S. Is the coop open or did the killer have to penetrate the defenses?
     
  3. Redcatcher

    Redcatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2010
    At My Desk!
    Another chicken just returned, mauled. I am not sure if he will make it or not. So, now there are just three not accounted for. One huge rooster and two smaller hens are still missing. Some of them might still show up. It is a very messy, "unprofessional" killer. The chickens are obviously able to get away from it so it goes after another. I do not think it was a raptor since there are teeth marks. I had an apprentice falconers license many years ago and this is not their style. The coop is open and there is an open pen but they mostly free range. The skunk smell is concentrated in the corner so if it was a predator that had been sprayed, the odor would be everywhere. It appears as if it got scared and "whiffed" in the corner. I am thinking skunk.
     
  4. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    Normally a skunk won't mess with adult birds they prefer eggs.. having said that.. when they do attack a bird.. their method is normally to go for the throat only.. they like to drink the blood and will usually only chew on the neck to that extent..

    Now it's quite possibly a skunk was in the coop raiding eggs when something else came in and started a ruckus.. in which case it wouldn't surprise me if the skunk sprayed and made a hasty retreat
     
  5. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    oh.. another thing that makes me think it wasn't a skunk that did the attacking.. a skunk won't spray what it's attacking.. it uses spray as defense
     
  6. greenacresinNE

    greenacresinNE Out Of The Brooder

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    May 10, 2010
    Papillion, NE
    Do you have wild MINK? They have a "skunky" small and will kill loads of birds. Vicious little things killed 4 of our very large Appleyard ducks, including 2 drakes.
     
  7. hennyannie

    hennyannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2011
    North Carolina
    Maybe the crows and other birds were upset by the sounds the chickens were making.
    Also I dont think one skunk would steal that many birds.
    Do you have coyotes? They tend to get sprayed by skunks often, and everyone we have had to kill smelled like skunk.
     
  8. Redcatcher

    Redcatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2010
    At My Desk!
    These birds are so old that they are not laying many eggs. In past years, the skunk would come in and take 7-8 eggs at a time but there are no eggs to speak of this year. As for the type of wounds... I brought the rooster that was mauled the worst inside the house so that I can keep an eye on him. His neck is so grossly swollen that he can barely raise his head. Both he and the other rooster that was mauled had their tails chewed off and bite marks all over. It could be that the varmint left the chickens for dead, planning to come back for them. I am pretty sure that the odor in the corner is skunk and it whiffed there, which is different from spraying. It probably had gotten body slammed by a panicking chicken. It is really odd though that I have not seen a skunk out there this year. The past skunk residents had always made their presence known.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  9. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    Musky skunk like smell can be from any member of the skunk family this includes mink, weasel, badger, and wolverine all of which would love a chicken dinner and the weasel is an escape artist being able to get through a very small opening.

    Also an old male raccoon frequently smells like a skunk.

    All of these critters can be very bloodthirsty.
     
  10. aprophet

    aprophet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2010
    chesapeake Va.
    kina sounds like a largeish possum they are messy killers and a weasel has the same glands a skunk does they are just not as strong smelling
     

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