I need help solving a mystery...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Steve1960, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. Steve1960

    Steve1960 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 5, 2008
    Lawrence, KS
    I have (had) 15 Dominique chicks, now 4 weeks old. I put them in their new house last week, and two days later found one chicken dead. It had no tears in it's flesh and no missing parts, even the feathers were all intact. This morning I went out and there was another one dead, this time a rooster, same thing. What I first thought was that it had been partially swollowed by a snake and then regurgitated, because it appeared wet from the head down to it's shoulders (just above the wings), one wing was pulled upward, and the neck seemed stretched. I can't imagine a snake would try twice, considering the birds are not getting smaller. Thinking it must have come in while the door was open and the chickens were in the (enclosed) yard, I searched the house for hiding predators, but found nothing. The only entry into the coop would be through a 1 1/4 inch round hole where I have a electrical cord running, which is 4.5 feet above the ground. I've read that chickens will sometimes crush one another when panicked, but this chicken was in the middle of the coop, not in a corner, as was the first one.
    I'm baffled, any feedback is appreciated.
  2. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2008
    My only thought would be a snake as well with what you have described.

    Could it be heat related?
  3. newnanchic

    newnanchic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 3, 2008
    Newnan, Georgia
    I am thinking possible heat as weel I don't know where you are at but here in Ga. it has been 95 with a heat index of over 102 . Do they have shade they can get in ??
  4. Steve1960

    Steve1960 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 5, 2008
    Lawrence, KS
    I'm in Lawrence KS, and it has been extremely hot and humid, however, in the coop it's been below 100, and at night, when this is occuring, a bit cooler. During the hottest part of the day they stay in the coop or under the small door which provides shade. The coop is well ventilated. They seem to be okay with it, other than slowing down and panting a lot. I've read the Doniniques adjust well to heat and humidity.
    I searched the coop for a snake and found none. And I don't think there's anyway out unless the door is open. This house is pretty bomb proof, or, at least, I think it is. The apparent saliva, or whatever the moiture is on the dead bird is odd, and leads me to think predator. But I just don't know. Have either of you had chickens die from heat?
  5. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    Maybe a small weasel.
  6. Jenski

    Jenski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    Steve, I have seen pics of a snake crawling up and over a 4' wall to get inside a chicken enclosure. What if you try stapling a bit of mesh over the electrical cord hole just for grins?

    Sorry for your loss ~ please keep us posted.

    Jen in TN
  7. Steve1960

    Steve1960 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 5, 2008
    Lawrence, KS
    I originally thought maybe a weasel, but, whatever it is it's not eating the chicken, and a weasel would eat at least part of it.
    I've covered the hole, so, we'll see. Still hard for me to believe that two snakes would try to swallow a too large chicken in less than a week? Strange...
  8. Cuban Longtails

    Cuban Longtails Flock Mistress

    Sep 20, 2007
    Northeast Texas
    It was a snake, yes they will try to eat stuff bigger than themselves more than once if they're unable to find another source of food. All they know is that it's food and they need to eat it for nourishment, there is no reasoning in their thought patterns.
  9. Silkiemama

    Silkiemama Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 21, 2008
    S.E. Ohio
    Steve - you may also want to check underneath your food and water containers if they are resting on the ground of your coop. Had a guy at the County Fair last year tell me that's how a predator was sneaking into his supposedly "secure" chicken barn. He found a hole under the feeder, thought it might have been a marten?
  10. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm thinking it's something living IN or under your coop. One of the birds might have thrashed itself to death in panic, but the damp one sounds as though a rat snake got at it. Look up because those snakes may bed down in rafters and above ceilings, they can also take up space in or under a nest box or floor. You may need a complete cleanout of your bedding to find the entrance. If you spot reptile droppings (they have an acrid smell) you can assume it's inside often. Be careful.

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