Predator or Thief?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by ronnif, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. ronnif

    ronnif New Egg

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    I had 7 chicks 8-10 weeks old that I put out in my run with the 3 adult girls I have. They were fine - had a pen with a small entrance that only they could get into so they could get away if the big girls got bossy or began to bully. My run is attatched to the coop, constructed of 2x4 framing and livestock fencing attatched (2"x4" welded wire). The fencing wire is laid out on the ground for approx 12" all the way around to discourage digging - has been there for over a year and has been "grown in" now (grass/weeds/etc). I put wire mesh (either 1/2" or 1/4" mesh) around the base of the fencing wire to a height of 2 feet. The top of the run is covered with plain 1" poultry wire. There is also wire laid out on the ground on all sides of the coop. There are no holes into/out of the run along the ground, and all the wire is intact everywhere. No openings on the coup at all - all ventilation has 1/2" wire mesh stapled over it and no holes in that either. There is ONE place that was dug under before I could get the wire all around the coup - I did not fill it in, just stapled a piece of livestock fencing (2"x4" openings) over it and stapled it to the wall of the coop - it extends out for about 12" on the ground, and there is no way to get under it. The first loss of chicks (they all stand about 10" tall at this point) was 3 chicks gone overnight. No blood, no feathers, no bodies - just gone. The second night, 1 more gone. Again, no feathers, no bodies, nothing. I walked the perimeter of the run, wire-tied some weak spots where the welds on the livestock fencing was broken and the wires could have been widened (they had not been messed with). The next day (yesterday) the remaining 2 chicks were still there - yay! So today I went out to give them all some treats - and another chick gone. Still no sign of how. So....after that long-winded story, my question is this: snakes? Could a snake have gotten in, eaten 3 chicks the first night, another 1 the next night, and another 1 last night - and still been small enough after his meals to fit back through the 2"x4" opening on the ground where the dig spot was covered over??? I cannot imagine one snake doing all this - so maybe an entire nest of snakes, each taking their turn? The second night was cold too, so I am having a hard time picturing a snake out hunting...I'm tending to think Human Thief at this point. Anybody have any ideas? I haven't purchased a game camera, maybe I need to do this - hubby also thinks a padlock on the run gate might be in order. Help! I now have to go purchase more chicks....I don't want them to run "afoul" of anything when I get them out there (sorry for the bad pun).
     
  2. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal Overrun With Chickens

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    Weird! From your description, I'd say it's unlikely a predator got them. I just don't see a snake getting that many in such a short time. Game camera is a good idea!
     
  3. eggbert420

    eggbert420 Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    A thief coming back three nights in a row sounds weird to me. I think a snake would only eat one. This is very puzzling. Are you sure there's no way a small animal could have gotten in there?
     
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  4. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with a game cam. You can get a good one on Amazon for $80-$100. I think a predator is definitely getting them, but which predator? I watched an adult oppossum squeeze through my dogs chain link fence which is 2x2 openings. I would have bet $100 it was going to get stuck and I was going to have to pull it free, but it made it through. 2x4 fence openings will allow a lot of predators through. Time to get more 1/2" hardware wire.
     
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  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Odd that there were NO feathers.
    Tho you found no holes, was there a place where and edge or corner of the mesh could have been pulled back enough for egress but not enough to bend/kink it?
     
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  6. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just trying to eliminate all possibilities from this puzzle: examining inside the run and coop, there are no burrows or hiding places under any of the nesting material or other stuff inside the coop or run?
     
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  7. ronnif

    ronnif New Egg

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    Feb 17, 2016
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    Update: after finding my "gotcha" moved (I placed a part of an old plastic sawhorse up against the run gate), hubby and I put an extra latch on the gate - complete with a combination lock. My final chick has been present and accounted for for the past 3 nights. One morning I even found the other latch opened, but not the one with the new lock on it. I think my mystery predator was a neighbor.
     
  8. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal Overrun With Chickens

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    Good to know it seems to be solved! :thumbsup
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    That really stinks!
     
  10. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Now you need to walk around your neighborhood and "listen" ... then call the police ...
     

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