What is it? Weasel, possum or skunk? Help!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Cowgirlgrace, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. Cowgirlgrace

    Cowgirlgrace Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hello everyone, I've finally joined but desparation has motivated me. Been meaning to sign up for a while and know I'm going to love this. I just read the predator article and it was very helpful but am now confused as my searches for the predator in my coop have turned up conflicting info.

    We have had chickens at this farm for 17 years and I have never had a predator problem except stray dogs when the chickens were let out to roam but no problem with that for many years. My chickens have a very secure coop but are free to come and go as they please between the coop and the run (6 foot chainlink but not covered)and I do not lock them in at night. Seventeen years of no predators made me very trusting. Three mornings ago after a hard frost I came down to find a dead chicken still warm and as it had been daylight for a few hours the tragedy happened in the daylight hours. With the cold if it had happened in the dark it would have been cold. The only injury to the hen was its bottom bit out and the innards were eaten, No damage to the head and neck and no meat was eaten, breasts and legs and all was still intact. We quickly made doors for all the coop openings so they couldn't come out in the morning until we let them out. I searched for predators on the internet and came up with the only animals who bite the bottoms were possoms and skunks and weasels were said to bite the heads. Thinking they would be safe if not let out until around 9 am I let them out the next morning with out any problems but the following morning after letting them out and returning a few hours later there was yet another dead chicken, same as the first but cold and rigored so not sure what time it happened but definately daylight.

    The article states that weasels do this but other info says they don't and only go for the head so still not sure what we are looking for. Been standing guard the last few mornings with the 22 and kept the dogs at the house so as not to scare whatever it is from showing itself but nothing yet. Would rather trap it and I would probably miss with the 22 anyway but want to know what it is first. Has anyone had this type of predation? Whatever it is the chickens are not even safe in the daylight. Aren't most of these predators nocturnal? It's probably climbing over the chainlink but if it's a weasel it could fit through the links. There is a section that borders a hillside that the chickens have scratched into and under the link but I have kept filling it in with logs and rocks but it could still be possible that there is a burrow there though I can't find one.

    Please help. These poor chickens are suffering horrible slow deaths by losing their intestines! Ick! I never want to let them out again.
  2. nzpouter

    nzpouter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2009
    new zealand
    how many hens you have and how big an area?

    Have you considered canibalism?
  3. Cowgirlgrace

    Cowgirlgrace Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have about 30 hens. The coop is 10x16 and the run is twice that and they get let put to free roam about every other day. They all get along very well and everyone is fully feathered. The dead chickens had no other marks on them except no bottom and when I found the first one everyone was hiding in the coop and didn't want to come out. If it was cannibalism wouldn't they be attacking when they are locked inside too? Why would they wait till they were let out?
  4. nzpouter

    nzpouter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2009
    new zealand
    canibalism can happen when a hen experienced prolapse, this can be seen if any of your birds has bloody head/ chest....

    Might not be it, but you never know....
  5. Kennyog

    Kennyog Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2009
    Oak Grove
    Sounds like you have a possum problem.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  6. redstars

    redstars Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 15, 2009
    south dartmouth ma
    Someone on here had a good Idea to sprinkle some flour around the coop after they roost
    so you can get a good track. Then you will know what your dealing with.
    And I would say yes a weasel would fit through a chain link fence with little to no problem at all.
    Good luck.
  7. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee

    First step should be to secure your flock. Chain link is no deterrent except to a dog that cannot jump or climb. For all others it is next to nothing at all. Climbers include some dogs, all coons, foxes, possums, coyotes. Weasels and ferrets and rats can all go thru a chain link fence and do not need to climb. Add hardware cloth mesh and then electrify the fence with several courses of hot wire.[​IMG]

    2nd step is to trap offender, and he will be back since he has imprinted that your flock is a sure-fire meal. I would borrow as many of whatever kind of traps that I could to get him. Sounds like a possum so smelly bait is good first attempt.[​IMG]
  8. Sequin

    Sequin Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2008
    My vote is a skunk. But the flour idea is a good one - unless you are able to find tracks around the coop/run area.
  9. skywatcher

    skywatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2009
    From my exsperance a opposum starts eating at the rear end of a chicken,however I have had flocks with to many roosters in them 6-7 roosters would attack a hen and eat its rear end out. The hens would stay on roosts afraid to come down. you only need 1 rooster for every 10 hens.
    know you will solve the problem soon. Keep your stick on the ice we all are pulling for you [​IMG]
  10. suburbanminifarm

    suburbanminifarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2009
    N.San Diego County
    My symathies!
    I had this happen only once, split open -intestines out and no other wound. The victim was a very young pullet and the culprit was a large rat. Disgusting but true. Depending on what area of the country you live in, my personal experience is that possums are normally opportunistic scavengers not outright hunters. (I have experience with them.) I think sometimes they get the blame for the far more intelligent, aggressive, and dexterous raccoons. Use the flour idea!

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