Need help identifying predator

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by R Farm, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. R Farm

    R Farm Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2009
    Colorado Springs, CO
    We had our first masacre [​IMG] We forgot to close up the pen. So access was easy to the coop, and we feel terrible. We have a light that comes on to wake them up, so they were all in light and awake but it was dark outside. We heard an odd sqawk around 2:30 and again around 4 am it gets light around 6 am. It appears to be an attack around dawn.

    We have a 6 ft tall wooden slat fence surrounding our yard.

    4 chickens lost in 1 night: There was no visible blood anywhere, just feathers everywhere. 2 of them looked like they were just laying down sleeping except no heads/necks. The other body looked similar but had been knawed on in the breast area.

    Ruby, 1 of our Buff Orpington hen was found with no head/neck, in the middle of our lawn about 25 feet from the coop/pen.

    Chip, our 6 month old Speckled sussex hen, was found with no head and the breast partially eaten - dragged to the exterior fence about 10 feet from the coop/pen

    Roxy, our pudgy barred rock hen was found with no head up near the exterior fence, on top of a structure about 3' high(for drainage/rain run off) (1/2 the height of the fence about 20 feet from coop - appeared like it was trying to leave the yard withit but couldn't get it out of the yard.

    Mudpuddle, The fourth hen was completly missing. We did find a lot more feathers and a 2 ft' section of intestines. Also a few tiny chunks of skin with a few feathers stuck still. This was the tiniest one - a small americauna that we adopted - previously a free range bird

    We live in an suburban type neighbor hood everyone has 6 ft wooden fenced back yards on average 1/4 acre lots. However, our road borders open space prarie- where there are lots of wildlife (prarie dogs, coyotes, hawks, antelope, snakes etc). We are about 6 houses in from that. Neighbors have seen a small red fox 3 days before attack, We saw an owl on Halloween. There is a fat housecat that we often see in our backyard at night. We have seen a baby Hawk swoop in but there was too many obstacles for it to get a bird (daylight too) There was no digging into the yard so whatever it was flew in or jumped or climbed.

    Would a fox jump a 6 foot fence? They usually take their victims or eat most or all of it. Maybe it just couldn't get back out of the fence?

    Raccoons don't usually eat the heads, and they go for the entrails - that was the one part left behind of the one missing bird.

    Skunks eat heads but no odor at all anywhere and the one missing doesn't fit, plus it would have had to have climbed the fence to get in the yard.

    We have set a live trap 3 nights following with nothing.

    This doesn't seem to fit one animal's typical attack so we are really confused, but we really want to protect or girls and if we knew what it was it would be easier to tighten up the security. We have had no attacks on our girls in almost 9 months of having them. We had forgotten the pen door and we feel awful. It was a case of everyone thought someone else checked it.

    Thanks everyone - we have a page with all our birds pics including the murdered ones (prior to their death)

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=41158
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2009
  2. jojo@rolling acres farm

    [email protected] acres farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2009
    Nebraska
    Where did you get the idea that coons do not eat heads? They do...and everything else. I believe you were hit by at least one coon - maybe more.

    Accidents happen - you didn't mean to allow access. Forgive yourself and go on. Sorry about your girls...good luck.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  3. R Farm

    R Farm Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2009
    Colorado Springs, CO
    [email protected] acres farm :

    Where did you get the idea that coons do not eat heads? They do...and everything else.

    I got that idea from the predator page on BYC https://www.backyardchickens.com/LC-predators.html stating that "Methods of Kill
    A raccoon typically attacks birds by biting the head or upper neck area. The heads of adult birds are usually bitten off and left some distance from the body. The crop and breast may be torn and chewed and the entrails eaten. Raccoons have been known to mutilate poultry in cages by pulling heads or legs off. Several kills may be made during a single night raid with part of one or more carcasses fed upon. Dead fowl may be at the kill site or dragged several yards away. Raccoons are also serious predators of wild bird populations. Reports indicate that raccoons have been responsible for eliminating local populations of some nesting waterfowl."

    Even though they just ate the head you think it might have been a coon - they hardly touched the 2 birds just the heads. The heads were completely gone not a sign of them anywhere. Not a drop of blood anywhere either​
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2009
  4. Bizzybirdy

    Bizzybirdy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2008
    North of Nashville
    Racoons ALWAYS bit the heads off of the chickens they killed here. Sometimes that is all they did, other times they ate a bit more and sometimes carried them away leaving just a pile of feathers. One even killed my old cat several months ago!! [​IMG] Vicious things!

    I believe your problem is a racoon!! So sorry for your losses. Racoons are very clever and excellent climbers. A 6 ft. fence or a 30 ft. tree is nothing for them to climb. It will continue to come back if not stopped, until you have no chickens left. Wait up and shoot it, or set a trap with cat food and catch and then shoot it.

    Keep the remaining chickens are locked up in a predator proof coop at night. Since the racoon knows it got to them easily they are in mortal danger now. You could also run a hot wire around the outside of your pen. Good luck.
     
  5. M To The Maxx

    M To The Maxx Baseball+Girls=Life

    Jul 24, 2009
    Lutz,FL
    My guess would be a coon.
     
  6. BorderKelpie

    BorderKelpie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 1, 2009
    outside Dallas
    That was my first thought, too.

    I am sorry you are having to go through this.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. lilcrow

    lilcrow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 13, 2009
    New Vienna, Ohio
    I would agree with everyone that it is a raccoon, and yes they do bite and eat the heads off of what they kill AND they'll drink any blood available. Skunks bite the heads off, specifically TOO drink the blood (said in Bella Lugosi's voice). A raccoon attack looks like a massacre. What's awful about them is that they kill so many, and eat so few. They are terribly disrespectful and indiscriminate killers. [​IMG] They all just act like a pack of juvenile delinquents when they are on the prowl and are terribly destructive to everything! [​IMG]
    But let me tell you who has gained a new respect from me as a killer and predator............the opossum! I once regarded them strictly as a scavenger, which may to some extent be true, but if a live chicken happens to be in the path of this scavenger, LOOK OUT!!! It's dead meat! I will put a 'possum up against a raccoon in measuring tenacity and determination any time, as a matter of fact, I rate them as superior.
    I've watched raccoons AND opossum under surveillance and the raccoon will give up much easier than the 'possum. 'Coons will fiddle and diddle with something for a bit and try to figure it out, but if it doesn't give, they move on to greener, much easier pastures. I had been told by an old Kentucky trapper that they were lazy and when I saw that, I understood what he always banked on. Then I saw the 'possums - way different story. If they have even one hint of success, or any indication of there being food in or under or around someplace, they will work at an opening that looks weak to them. They may leave and make a loop out, but they come right back in and approach from a different angle, looking for a better opening or something they may have missed. If they don't find something better, they go right back to the weak spot and work at it for a while. ~Scary~
    As the others said so wisely, your intentions were not indifference toward your chickens. It is sad and I'm really sorry that happened to them, but try not to beat yourself up too much over it. Maybe try to devise a way of making sure that you check each other, because I know how that can be when you think the other person took care of the chores.
     
  8. FarmerChick

    FarmerChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2008
    North Carolina
    Skunks are bad news also.

    Skunks do just like coons. They eat off the heads and do tons of damage to chickens.

    How I know....oh yes, seen it, trapped a few, and they are just as nasty. It could be the smelly old Peppe LaPeu!!
     
  9. feathersandfluff

    feathersandfluff Chillin' With My Peeps

    There is no doubt it is a racoon that will be back for more meals. We had this problem also with them killing our geese. They can climb just about anything including our six foot fencing. We had to run electric fencing which we just turn on in the evenings. We tried trapping them also but they are too smart for the traps. No problems now with the hot wire keeping them out but am always concerned that we will have more problems once winter when the food supply for racoons is even more scarce
     
  10. lilcrow

    lilcrow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 13, 2009
    New Vienna, Ohio
    Quote:Sorry Bizzybirdy, I completely missed this. That's a heart-breaker. I'm SO sorry about that! Those BEASTS!! There's just no excuse for most of what they do. I wish there was a way of make some rhyme or reason out of it, then maybe it would be easier to do battle against them, or at least wage a defense that doesn't have to end in destruction for the raccoon, but they just don't learn THAT WAY. Evolution has taught them something else unfortunately.
    I will confess, please don't hate me, I don't kill mine, (the ones I trap) I take them about 15 miles away to a state park and turn them loose, even the 'possums. I'm 61 and I've never had it in me to kill anything and I don't think that's going to change at this late date. There are even cases of mercy that I have to go get someone else to do it and I know it NEEDS to be done, QUICKLY!! and I can't do it, I've tried. It is one of my shortcomings, (just one of them. I've got several I've been told).
     

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