What happened to one of my hens? Very graphic images, so beware.

SheilaV

In the Brooder
8 Years
Jun 5, 2011
38
1
24




I have been fighting rat snakes for a couple of months now. I have carted off 3, and know of one I could not catch. At first, they were after my new chicks, but I fixed their brooder to lock the snakes out. Then they went after my eggs. I caught another and carted him off. Last month, I found my only rooster dead, with not a mark on him. This morning I discovered I was short one hen (Light Brahma, not a small hen), and found her on the ground. Her head was covered in dried blood, sand and feathers, all stuck to her face. She was alive, but not by much. I washed off as much of the dried stuff as I could and was amazed to see how much swelling there was, but NO bites, missing skin or tears. This does not look like the work of an assult by the others. I am wondering if a snake would do that. One snake I saw was VERY large, much larger than the 6' rat snakes I have seen (larger in girth). Did not see the entire body, so cannot say what it was or how long it may have been. It was also much lighter in color than the rat snakes. I am wondering if this might be the results of a large snake trying to eat this bird (such an ego), then when I realized its mistake, it gave up. When I left for work this morning, she was stll alive, but I fully expected her to be dead when I got home. But she is still alive, but not much better. I still cannot tell much about the damage. The waddle on the right side is quite swollen and appears to be seeping. I don't know what else to do except try to get some fluids and calories in her, keep her quiet, and hope for the best.

I realize it is unlikely that a snake would attempt to do this, but it is is really large, I am wondering if it might just try. I may be stalking the hen house tonight. Any ideas? I know she will likely die, but I am not prepared to do it myself, even if it is the humane thing to do. Truthfully, I am not sure about her eyes either, so she could easily be blinded. What a sad little hen she is.
 

Charm1704

Songster
9 Years
Sep 30, 2010
545
53
181
Elgin, Tx
She was strangled by a large Rat snake......they are constrictors.......just like the Python...I had a 7 foot one kill a large Lavenedr Orpington Rooster...no way the snake could even swallow the Roosters head ........but it didn't matter...it killed it anyway, that's their nature...I usually relocate the snakes...but that one I chopped to pieces....I am sorry for your loss....~Charm1704
 

SheilaV

In the Brooder
8 Years
Jun 5, 2011
38
1
24
i suspected as much. I guess with the constriction, the blood could/would collect in the face, and specifically the waddle, which was severely swollen and appeared to be ruptured or at least seepming the blood. I can assume that there was some other damages done inside, either in the head or neck or even upper body, all of which would take a cumulative toll. Poor thing. The least he could have done was kill her, not leave her there to linger. I am going to have to find a way to trap the snakes now, as they have become wise to my presence and that I am now a threat to them. I still suspect that larger snake. It COULD have been a rat snake, as I didn't see much of it. Regardless, the gauntlet has been cast. I will HAVE to address this now, if the threat is to include my adult birds too. I will tolerate the egg loss, can guard against any access to the smaller birds, but this is just untenable. RELEASE THE HOUNDS!!
Thanks.
 

centrarchid

Free Ranging
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
23,747
13,073
696
Holts Summit, Missouri
I bet the somebody attacking your birds is there first for same reason the large snakes are present, specifically the rodents. That somebody is likely to be a weasel of some sort.
 
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