Mystery Death with no Answer

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by NC DixieChick, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. NC DixieChick

    NC DixieChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2011
    Woke up this morning to my husband telling me the bad news: our three year old Buff Orpington named Ginger was dead. I was shocked. Then mad. Then sad. Still am. I've read lots of posts all over the forum and am trying to bring some closure to this.

    Here are the facts:

    we have (had) three chickens and live in a suburban neighborhood in a large NC city.
    The girls live in a wooden coop enclosed by a 10x10x6 foot kennel with a locking gate. This outside area gives them a bigger run during the day.
    We typically put them inside the wooden coop at night (and of course, lock the gate) for double nighttime protection

    Now, the evidence:
    Ginger, the one we lost, was found dead inside the run (not the wooden coop structure) with what my husband described as a "bloody open wound" on her back. I admit I have not yet been able to bring myself to look.
    The other two girls are fine - no sign of harm that I can see.
    I've looked and do not see any tracks around the fencing and do not see any new openings or moved bricks or holes around the perimeter. Can not fond any signs of forced entry.
    We actually had a rare balmy night here last night and decided to let the girls sleep on top of the coop roof. We typically put them into the coop. The roof of the coop is metal and approx. 2 feet from the wire netting that we have across the top of the kennel. They have slept there before plenty of times without incident.

    My thoughts on solutions to the Mystery:

    (1) They were all three asleep on the roof and something spooked them (an owl swooping down for example) and Ginger flapped around and in her chicken nighttime stupor gashed her back on the metal roof.

    (2) Same scenario as above, but perhaps she got smothered by the other two. Although this does not explain the gash on her back.

    (3) Something got in -- possibly through the mesh stretched over the top of the kennel -- and took a swipe or bite out of Ginger. The other two ran for cover (or were out of reach). Not sure if the wound Ginger suffered was life threatening, but maybe the stress gave her a heart attack. Can that even happen to chickens?

    (4) She fell victim to some predator (fox, weasel, raccoon, wild cat) and the animal had no way to drag her away. I've read that weasels kill for sport so this could be a possibility. Do weasels live in city suburbs? Like the end of a culdscac in a populated neighborhood?

    So, my fellow chicken lovers, any other thoughts? You can BET that the other two will not be having a nice breezy night out on the roof of the coop tonight. That's for sure.

    Any insight would be appreciated. Y'all are so awesome!
  2. cgmccary

    cgmccary Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2007
    NE Alabama
    First, I am very sorry about your hen, Ginger. I can tell she had a great life and a nice place to live. Second, don't blame yourself. Instead, learn from the experience.

    I would like to see the "bloody open wound." I would also like to see pictures of your set-up.

    Raccoon can reach through small holes and do great damage but likely would be a lot more than just one wound. They rip a bird apart through cages when that is their way of killing.

    Opossums can climb well and squeeze through small openings. They like to take chickens on roost -- they are everywhere too. I lived in the city and had to fight off opossums all the time there. Anywhere it could crawl in and out?

    Weasels live in forests so if forest nearby, then could be a weasel -- they usually eat the heads though.

    The other outside possibility is a rat.

    If some high entry point, I would guess opossum. That is my insight.

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