What predator just eats the head and a little more?

RenoHuskerDu

Songster
Aug 8, 2018
348
698
196
Central Texas
Come time to roost the chickens for the night, one did not show up. Our rooster is not terribly diligent. We went looking in the gathering darkness and found her under a building, where the chickens like to hang out to escape heat or rain. She'd been killed, and the predator only ate her head and part of a breast.

Locals tell me it's not a canine predator. We have coyotes and foxes around, as we're fully in the country, but they would surely not have dropped the bird. They would have carried it off in their mouth.

I doubt this was a bird of prey because they would have a dickens of a time getting under that building. I've closed off two sides with sandbags due to all the heavy rains Pocahontas sent to Texas. There are no feral cats around here. I would shoot them and the neighbors feel the same way.

I saw this list (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/the-worst-predator.261440/) but we have few of those around. We have cougars but they are rare and only move around at night. Here in Central Texas, that leaves raccoons and possums. Locals say that raccoons are more likely to kill several chickens, so they suspect that a possum got us. They think a possum, being pretty stupid, would just eat some and spook away when we made noise nearby.

This particular chicken was the most trusting of the flock. You could just walk right up and pick her up. Same with our dogs, she would let them nose her without squawking. I suspect that her gentle nature was her downfall, and a predator was able to creep right up to her. This supports the possum theory.

What do y'all think? We're pretty sad, as it's the first chicken we've lost to a predator, and she was a good layer. I've taken to sitting out near the coop late afternoon to dusk with a rifle, hoping to knock off the predator. If it's a coon, they're smart and he'll be back.
 

Sparrowsong98

Songster
Jun 23, 2017
214
208
101
SW Pa
It could be a weasel as @Beer can suggested. They are nasty little things, and they kill just for fun too. It might be a coon, but they typically make a hug mess when they kill things. In my experiences, possums have just carried off the chickens or left small pieces. Could you have scared the predator off when you came out to feed your chickens?
 

RenoHuskerDu

Songster
Aug 8, 2018
348
698
196
Central Texas
We haven't heard about weasels being around here in the Texas Hill Country. I agree they are odious little pests. We fought them in France, in our attic. I drove them out with bright light and a blaring radio, then sealed off the attic with hardware cloth. I'll run some local queries about weasels. We have a huge Texas photography group in FB.

As for traps, we have two heeler/terrier 5-month pups, about 21 lbs now, so I worry that they might get caught too. They're outside dogs.
 

roosterhavoc

Enabler
9 Years
Jan 5, 2012
27,253
57,927
1,181
We haven't heard about weasels being around here in the Texas Hill Country. I agree they are odious little pests. We fought them in France, in our attic. I drove them out with bright light and a blaring radio, then sealed off the attic with hardware cloth. I'll run some local queries about weasels. We have a huge Texas photography group in FB.

As for traps, we have two heeler/terrier 5-month pups, about 21 lbs now, so I worry that they might get caught too. They're outside dogs.
Might try just using a cage trap. For bait you can use eggs, PB, Jelly syrup pretty much anything really.
 

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