Squirrel killed chicks

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by GottaHaveBirds, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. GottaHaveBirds

    GottaHaveBirds Chirping

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    I'm posting my story here as a warning to others who may not consider squirrels as predators.

    I had 20 two-week-old chicks in the coop separated from the older layers in what was supposed to be a secure area. A red squirrel managed to squeeze through a very small space above the door, killed four of the chicks and injured two that are now recovering.

    Yes, a squirrel.

    Two of the chicks' heads were bitten off; one chick's back end was mangled and the other had deep lacerations on its chest. I was in total shock. The squirrel lunged at me with outstretched claws, bounced off my hat and escaped.

    The two injured chicks have head and back lacerations. Once is having problems walking, but is eating, drinking with human help and pooping fine. She/he is in large tote with pine shavings and a blanket. I check on her every couple of hours, holding her, hand feeding and giving her water with electrolytes.

    I'm functioning this morning on barely any sleep and lots of coffee so please excuse spelling mistakes.

    The other injured chick is still energetic and able to feed and drink by itself, but the new flock leader has rejected her. I put her back with the others after cleaning the wounds and applied Blu-Kote to mask the redness. One of her eyes is puffy. She is now in the coop with her flock mates in a separate cage.

    I can't describe how devastating the loss it and deep guilt I feel not fully protecting those babies, not demanding that gaps and inefficiencies be fixed before moving them into the coop.

    I was gardening when I heard a sharp chick cry coming from the coop and instantly knew that something was wrong. That cry was from the squirrel's last victim. The body was still warm when I ran inside.

    I feel so guilty and mad at the same time. Those poor babies - how could I have let that happen? Stupid. Avoidable. They suffered. I failed.

    There's hardware cloth on all doors, vents and windows. The killer squirrel squeezed through a space less than 1" wide.

    I don't see squirrels listed as predators on most online communities and in the dozen books I have about raising chickens. I wouldn't have believed it myself had I not witnessed the carnage first hand.

    Squirrels can be cute. But, yesterday I saw they can be killers. They are now on the predator list around here.

    Thank you for reading.
     
  2. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    I suspect the squirrel had some type if issue. Here the squirrels run away. We don't have Red Squirrels here but do have Gray Squirrels and Fox Squirrels. I have seen a Gray Squirrel in a pen but it didn't bother the birds. The Gray Squirrels here are destructive. One ate the tubes to the windshield washers on hubby's truck. What a pain it was to change the tubing. I shoot the grays if I can because if I don't they take over and they're not threatened. The Fox Squirrels aren't destructive.
     
  3. Trish1974

    Trish1974 Araucana enthusiast

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    That is awful! :hugsI am so sorry for your losses.
     
  4. Melbeforeyou

    Melbeforeyou In the Brooder

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    Wow, I hope that squirrel isn't rabid. I don't know much about red ones but the Grey's here are always trying to get in the coops to get the food but other than that they don't bother my chickens. And I have never heard of one lunging after a person either. Might need to get up early with a .22 and shoot it.
     
  5. GottaHaveBirds

    GottaHaveBirds Chirping

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    The offender was trapped and no longer a threat. We never had problems with squirrels before yesterday. They ate seeds and chicken feed the girls tossed on the ground so never concerned about aggression or worried about chickens' safety. The attack was a complete shock. Still trying to process it all.
     
  6. janiedoe

    janiedoe Crowing

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    I'm so sorry this happened to you. Please don't feel guilty, you tried to protect your chicks. Who would have foreseen something like that?
    I have witnessed broody hens chasing squirrels away from their chicks, but I've never worried too much about squirrels in the past.
    I hope for a speedy recovery for your other chicks.
     
  7. GottaHaveBirds

    GottaHaveBirds Chirping

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    From what I've read so far, red squirrels are more aggressive than grays and they're incredibly territorial. Our trailer wiring has been destroyed three times now, gnawed by some type of varmint, and a squirrel hid pine cones on my car's engine. They can be destructive for sure, but never considered them to be chicken killers. It's a hard lesson.
     
  8. GottaHaveBirds

    GottaHaveBirds Chirping

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    Thank you for your kind words. I'm trying to deal with the sadness by caring for the injured chicks and the rest of the flock.
     
  9. Mybackyardpeepers

    Mybackyardpeepers Crowing

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    I have plenty of squirrels here, but my chicks don't go outside till they are older/bigger. That being said I will keep a closer eye on my juveniles I put out for the day, thanks for the heads up!
     
  10. GottaHaveBirds

    GottaHaveBirds Chirping

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    Thank you for your kindness. I'm still in shock about the incident, trying to understand why the squirrel attacked and killed. Rats, weasels, pine martens, fishers, etc., I expect them to attack and kill. A squirrel that often ate alongside our previous flock? Maybe there was something wrong with it in the head?
     

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