Please help! Chicken killer loose in my yard! (caution this is very graphic)

Mimzzie

Hatching
7 Years
Oct 23, 2012
2
0
7
I just found a second hen dead in just a few days. The first was killed when we were gone for three days. We had a neighbor come in to feed and water and collect eggs, but no one was here over night. Generally if the hens get upset during the night my husband goes out and checks on them. We figured they would not be in danger with us here, but when I found my little May this afternoon, she was in the same position on her back legs spread, as we found Sassy a few days ago. We were here and it was day. She was fine this morning. So I looked more closely at her body than I did at Sassy. She was eaten from the inside, apparently through her vent. What could do this? could rats do this? could snakes? I haven't seen rats but I have seen holes by the coop. I'm out there a lot and so are my kids. We see snakes, but only garter snakes. We moved here in autumn, so this is the first spring we've been here. My son's friend says its rats. If it is how can I protect my other girls? Are my children safe? Please help! Is there anything that can get rid of rats quick? I have a broody girl who has been sitting for four days. How can I protect her?
 

JerseyHen

Songster
8 Years
Feb 10, 2011
1,549
65
186
Sussex County, NJ
I just found a second hen dead in just a few days. The first was killed when we were gone for three days. We had a neighbor come in to feed and water and collect eggs, but no one was here over night. Generally if the hens get upset during the night my husband goes out and checks on them. We figured they would not be in danger with us here, but when I found my little May this afternoon, she was in the same position on her back legs spread, as we found Sassy a few days ago. We were here and it was day. She was fine this morning. So I looked more closely at her body than I did at Sassy. She was eaten from the inside, apparently through her vent. What could do this? could rats do this? could snakes? I haven't seen rats but I have seen holes by the coop. I'm out there a lot and so are my kids. We see snakes, but only garter snakes. We moved here in autumn, so this is the first spring we've been here. My son's friend says its rats. If it is how can I protect my other girls? Are my children safe? Please help! Is there anything that can get rid of rats quick? I have a broody girl who has been sitting for four days. How can I protect her?
I am sorry that you lost two of your hens. Were they in the coop/run or out ranging? What are the local predators where you are? Owl, raccoon, hawk, fox, weasel, mink, skunk, possum, coyote, and on and on. Snakes will eat a chick, but they don't disembowel an animal (they eat it whole). I imagine a rat would eat a chicken's innards, but it would have to kill it and be a pretty large rat. Rats (it would have to be a big rat or a small chicken) usually will kill by biting the neck and then feeding.

From Predator ID (by gail demerow): http://merrittpoultry.wordpress.com/poultry-predator-identification/
"Birds bitten around the rear end, and have their intestines pulled out, have been attacked by a weasel or one of its relatives. A hen that prolapsed may look similar, as the protruding red tissue attracts other chickens to peck, and if they peck long enough and hard enough before you intervene, they will eventually pull out her intestines. Other signs of cannibalism are missing toes and wounds around the top of the tail of growing chickens. Hens with slice wounds along their backs get them after being repeatedly mated by a sharp-clawed rooster."

Here is another page on chicken predators: http://www.raising-chickens.org/chicken-predators.html

You need to seal off all holes and put a skirt around the coop/run so they cannot dig into it. I would go get a rat trap as well, just to be sure.
 

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