Predator identification

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by morf2540, Dec 2, 2014.

  1. morf2540

    morf2540 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 26, 2013
    We had a sad predator tragedy over the weekend and are having a hard time figuring out what did the deed. Both our hens were lost. One was disappeared completely and the other was dead with its head and neck missing, but no other visible wounds. This happened during the middle of the day, so I am thinking that rules out raccoons, possums, and owls, right? We have a fully covered and secure run, with a pop door out to a larger fenced area that is open above but under cover of large trees and shrubs. So it is pretty secluded. The dead chicken was found just outside the run, and there were a million feathers inside the run. So something killed the first chicken by biting off its head, then walked through the hatch into the run to get the other chicken, which it carried off completely. Hmmmm. My wife first thought dog, but I doubt a dog would just bite the head off a chicken, plus it could not have scaled the outside fence very easily. Then she thought cat, but i doubt a cat would carry off a full grown RIR chicken while scaling a fence. What's left for a daylight suspect? Hawk? I am having a hard time picturing a hawk climbing through a pop door to get at a chicken, then dragging it back out. But obviously it had to be something. Weasel? I have never seen one around here, but I couldn't rule it out. Do they hunt in daylight? And don't they stay near water? we have no streams or running water anywhere nearby. Any best guesses out there?
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    It very well could be a dog. Unfortunately, I know this because my own dog killed one of my hens. She somehow flew into the fenced in yard. And I found her without her head and neck too.

    You know, it could be a fox, because I have seen them out in the daytime. If they get really hungry, they'll hunt during the day. Also, it would carry one away to eat easily.

    But of course, it could be a number of things. I thought possum right away too, but they are usually nocturnal. You never know.....

    So sorry for your loss!
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Did you examine the carcass looking for talon wounds or claw wounds? That could help identify the predator.

    I don’t know where you live so the list of possible predators is pretty wide open. I’ll try to limit it to the more common ones in the mainland USA. If you are somewhere else the list is really wide open. I don’t know what that outside fence looks like. A fox can climb a chain link fence and some other types of fence pretty easily. Dogs and coyotes are more likely to jump a fence than climb over. Coyotes can jump pretty well. But a tall fence will usually stop coyotes and dogs.

    A hawk will go into an enclosure after something and they tend to go for the head first, so that is a possibility, but a hawk would likely just take the first one, not go after a second. Some hawks are big enough to carry of a chicken but many are not. I don’t know if yours were full sized fowl or bantams.

    Raccoons will hunt during the day. They are more likely to hunt at night but you can’t totally rule one out. They tend to eat the animal on the spot and not carry a whole one off unless they have a den full of kits to feed. They are not likely to have babies this time of year north of the equator. Probably not a raccoon.

    My main suspect is a bobcat. They tend to kill by biting the head and can climb really well. They often carry off the entire body. Bobcats usually try to bury the carcass so they can come back later to finish it off. Was that one you found partially covered? It may have been frightened off before it could bury that one. There should be claw marks on the side where the bobcat grabbed the chicken and held it.

    I’m not sure if a mink would carry a chicken away or not. Going for the head like that sounds like it could be a member of the weasel family though. Another member of the weasel family is a possibility if you live pretty far north, the fisher cat.

    If you check the fencing and find a place something squeezed under, fox, dog, or coyote goes way up on my list.

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