One hen killed in coop overnight...raccoon? Possum? Rat???

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by EggDropSoup, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. EggDropSoup

    EggDropSoup Chirping

    Sep 12, 2012
    Man, my poor hens have been through the ringer. I just got my surviving 8 over a really serious respiratory infection and now I've lost yet another, this time to some predator attack.

    I have no clue how the critter got in. My chicken run and coop is chain link on three sides (with the fencing buried a foot under the ground) and the wall of my friend's house on the fourth side. The top is covered by bird netting which is secured with zip ties. I haven't had any problems with this arrangement for over a year. The coop door is always open--the chickens can run in and out freely, because I don't get over there until around 10 every morning to let them out of their run and into the 1/2 acre of fenced yard. There is a wooden and hardware cloth gate that I built myself that keeps the run closed at night.

    My only guess is that the animal that did this somehow found a weakness in my bird netting top. With my run's configuration and the present fencing, there's really no better solution, so I guess I'll be adding more zip ties. The other possibility is that a rat did this. I have seen a rat around, and have been neglectful of trapping it. I'll see it run out and eat some food and then return to its hole. I never thought a small rat like that could kill a 7 lb. chicken.

    The chicken that was killed had her head torn off and her abdomen ripped open. She was very neatly "cleaned" of all of her insides. Literally--her body cavity was scraped down to the bone. Does this sound like a coon or possum? I'm almost certain a rat couldn't have managed this.

    I'm going to set three or four live traps around the run tonight and possibly camp out. I can't stand to lose anymore hens than I already have in the past month. :(
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    A weasel, mink or rat could easily get through your chain-link fence. Weasels are quite small, so I don't know that one would do that much damage (when they've gotten my chickens, they've just bit a hole in the neck or under the wing and lapped up the blood), but a mink would certainly clean one up like that.
  3. EggDropSoup

    EggDropSoup Chirping

    Sep 12, 2012
    Minks are definitely not native to this area, so I'm guessing a 'coon or possum got in somehow. I spent six hours securing the coop/run in every way possible. I also told my friend to leave her dog out tonight. She usually does, and I think he keeps most predators at bay. Last night, she happened to bring him in. Tomorrow night, I'm setting the live traps.
  4. ChirpyChicks1

    ChirpyChicks1 Songster

    Jul 22, 2013
    [​IMG]Sorry for your loss!

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