My first predator attack. Could I get some tips and advice please?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by RikkiMarie, Nov 9, 2014.

  1. RikkiMarie

    RikkiMarie In the Brooder

    Hi everyone! This is my first time posting in the forums and I would like to thank anyone in advance who helps me with this predicament. I'm still pretty upset about the whole thing.

    First I would like to start off by saying that my entire backyard is fenced in with a privacy fence and it was just done not long ago, so there aren't any holes in the boards and there aren't any ways to squeeze under the fence (well, there could be but I'm not so sure of what could squeeze so flat to go under the fence). Also, I have a separate area for my chickens and ducks and their pen is fenced in. They have two separate coops; one for the chickens (I have a full grown Silkie chicken and she has a baby) and I have two female Khaki Campbell ducks, who have their own separate coop and their own pond that I had dug into the ground using a large tub so they can dive under and scavenge. The ducks and the chickens get along just fine. Now I have a small flock (10 baby chicks) who have a little hut they go into with a red lamp. They are able to get out and look for food. When they are done they go back into their hut. Everyone - including the ducks and the mama chicken get along just fine.

    Last night, two of my smallest baby chicks disappeared. There was one laying next to the duck pond, dead. It had teeth marks in it and it looked like it had been chased around before it finally passed. It broke my heart so much. There was no sign of tearing, ripping of what ever feathers it had - etc. The behavior of the other animals in the pen were normal as I proceeded to do my daily activity of cleaning and feeding.

    Could you name some of the common predators that could do this? And can you give me some ideas in order to prevent a future attack? Thank you so much!

    Edit: I should also mention that this is my second time having chickens again. The last chickens that I had were full grown so having babies is a new experience for me.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014
  2. You say there were teeth marks, could you describe them at all. Were the thin, wide, puncture like? If they were teeth marks from a bite that would pretty much rule out any flying predators like hawks, owls, even crows or black birds. What environment do you live in. Are you rural, in the city, on the outskirts. Do you have just a regular house and yard or do you have acreage?

    Without more information a just guessing considering teeth marks, I would guess either a domestic cat or something like a possum, skunk or even a small canine like predator like a fox. If it was one of these there is no way just a privacy fence is going to keep them out. Are there any tree overhangs near the fence? But even if not a cat, skunk, etc. can manage to climb the fence and make it over.

    Were the teeth marks several or just two, three or four? If just a few it could have been a snake, rat or other rodent.

    You probably want to address the security of your pens. Are they covered? Do they have buried wire around the parameters? Are the fences wood or wire, chain link, fence fabric, etc.

    Give us a little more information to help you narrow down what might have happened. And, definately address the security of your pens.

    Best of luck.
  3. N F C

    N F C snowing & blowing

    Dec 12, 2013
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Probably a cat. I understand and sympathize with you, as I know how violated and shocked you must be feeling.

    Weasels would also be on the list, and they indeed are able to squeeze very flat to get under a fence. But the fact that there were only teeth marks and not destruction of the body indicates it was probably a cat.

    To be absolutely predator-proof, a run needs to be covered to prevent flying predators from gaining access, and other climbing predators from crawling over the fence.

    Again, I'm so sorry for this tragedy.
  5. RikkiMarie

    RikkiMarie In the Brooder

    Thank you so much for replying! Yes, I can describe the teeth marks as best as I can. They were small puncture wounds - all side-by-side and I counted at least three. There are actually trees that overhang my fence (I love having all the trees around). The teeth marks around its rear were very sloppy and I couldn't quite count them. Right under its left wing, there was a rip of the skin.

    My pens themselves are built from wood, have a shingle roof, and windows. I typically leave the doors open so they can come out and scavenge for food (or eat out of the feeders) and get water if needed. The pens are surrounded by a wire fence - almost like a waist high gardening fence. I am able to step over the fence so I can get to them and it is secured to my privacy fence. It's pretty sturdy actually.

    Edit: I also live in a regular house in the borough. I'm planning to move out in to a more country-type area soon.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014
  6. RikkiMarie

    RikkiMarie In the Brooder

    Thank you very much!
    I have a privacy fence and I don't know if a dog could squeeze underneath - the fence is touching the ground practically. I have a dog myself but he doesn't harm them and he can't get to them actually because of the fencing I have around their pen.
    Thanks for the link! I'll be sure to check it out momentarily1
  7. RikkiMarie

    RikkiMarie In the Brooder

    Thank you for the link! I'll be sure to check into it momentarily!

    I don't think so - I think a dog would have done more damage than little puncture wounds. Also my privacy fence touches the ground. My own dog doesn't bother with them really - they are also protected by the fence, but he leaves them alone. Sometimes he'll watch me feed them, but typically he leaves them alone.
  8. RikkiMarie

    RikkiMarie In the Brooder

    Thank you very much. It's still very disheartening. I took them outside and they were fine for the first few days and I tried to remind myself that everything was going to be okay.

    It definitely could have been a cat. I looked for possible prints but there weren't any.
  9. mrs buff laced

    mrs buff laced Songster

    Oct 11, 2013
    Riza 4
    Well that sounds like a common cat attacked your chicks anything else would eaten all the chicks and or chickens and ducks.... make sure that the roof of your pen is secure otherwise owls, snakes, bobcats, raccoons, and regular cats will eat your chicks, among other things.... Also make sure that you count all your chicks before bed time and again in the morning..... Now if there is not a way to completely close your chicks' hut you need to make a way, because at night your chicks shouldn't be able to wander out or be kicked out by the other chicks in the night. But letting the chicks free range in the day is awesome! It's really great for them! Also if your chicks hut is off the ground with a ramp for them to get up to it would be better.... that eliminates the problem of snakes eating your chicks....
    I'm sorry for your 2 little chicks though....

  10. If you are planning on moving soon then you won't want to go to great expense but there are things that you can do now to help keep them safer.

    First if the bites were puncture mostly, more than two and on multiple parts of the body I am guessing (since your are more suburban it was most likely a cat. Do people have cats that roam free in your neighborhood? At any rate the animal knows where your birds are and might return. So do a few things (some of which you may already do):

    1. Do not leave them loose and unattended. While this may seem simple it only takes an instant for a predator to climb your fence, run across the yard, grab a bird and take of back across the fence.
    2. Watch very carefully for any sign of digging around your privacy fence and/or the fence around their pen. If you notice any then get some 1/4 inch fencing fabric at any hardware store and attach it to the bottom of the fence, then fold it out and bury it about 6-10 inches down all around the fence. This will not prevent the digging but the predator will dig, hit the fence fabric and hopefully give up and go away to easier game.
    3. Lock them in at night and when you are not there. Use a sophisticated lock not just a latch of some sort. If by chance you have a raccoon or the like in the area they are very clever and able to actually manipulate some latches. Make it something that would require human like skills to undo.
    4. Consider putting 1/4 fencing fabric over the windows so that you can have them open and keep predators out.

    You will notice that I keep saying 1/4 fencing fabric and not chicken wire. Chicken wire is designed to keep chickens in not to keep predators out. It is very easily torn through by a determined predator.

    Look around here on BYC and you will find any number of other suggestions to help keep your flock safe. Just do a search on predator or protection and plan on spending some time reading.

    I wish you the best of luck. I live in the country, a mile from my nearest neighbor and have both flying predators and critters like raccoons, skunks, cayotes and bobcats to deal with. So far, and I am one of the lucky ones, I have not lost a bird to an unwelcome guest. However, being rural I am allowed the use of firearms to help me deal with them. You probably are not allowed to discharge a firearm in the city. But, when you move to a more rural area you may want to at least consider getting something for home defense. That would include defending yourself, your family and your animals including your birds.

    Let us know how things progress. We are all here to help you deal with this challenge.

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