What predator only decapitates, doesn't eat

ShakeragSusan

Songster
May 13, 2012
121
17
131
rural Kentucky
I have (had) 5 guineas. Yesterday, I noticed that they were not all hanging out together as usual. At bedtime, none had made it inside the chicken coop. Normally, they all come in every night. My daughter found one caught in the netting. After I freed her and placed her inside, I went looking for the others. I only found a few guinea feathers. I know something was after them, but I don't know what.

This morning, I found a body. This appears to be the one who lost the feathers. He or she also seems to be missing a head and nothing else the best I could tell. What would do this?

Dogs? I haven't seen any wandering dogs besides the usual. Yesterday, I saw the neighbor's elderly black lab lounging under a tree in the field near some of the guineas, but he has never shown any interest in them.

Other possible predators in this area:
opossums
coyotes
raccoon
snakes
foxes
hawks
owls
bobcats



That's really all I can think of. Well, except for my elderly cat.


None of the other guineas came home. My remaining girl is so sad. She has been calling for the rest all morning.

It seems to me that dogs, generally, would eat a guinea at least some. Unless they were already full, I guess.

I suppose I should have expected dogs since I lost six guineas in about six minutes last year.

Dog?
 

shmccarthy

Songster
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
1,384
133
173
Michigan
Raccoons will commonly decapitate the animal, and pull out feathers because they grab with their hands and hold on with the teeth. Did you see any puncture marks?
 

hollyinpa

In the Brooder
11 Years
Mar 12, 2008
93
0
39
All seven of my hens were killed last night. Only found 4 in the yard...three of which had no heads. The three that were not found...I wish they would find their way home if they escaped. No sign of a predator...no tracks, fur, scat, etc.

I am heartbroken.
 

shmccarthy

Songster
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
1,384
133
173
Michigan
Oh no, hopefully they come back, they're probably hiding scared somewhere. I've had a couple that were attacked by something and they came back a couple days later. I even had a rooster that came back 3 months later! He was living on the neighbor down the streets farm.
 

WalkingOnSunshine

Crowing
11 Years
Apr 8, 2008
4,210
525
328
Ohio
Weasels and rats will decapitate. My vote is a weasel. They can get in through a 1" square hole. We had one do a lot of damage over two days before we caught it. Lots of headless chickens.
 

hollyinpa

In the Brooder
11 Years
Mar 12, 2008
93
0
39
Oh no, hopefully they come back, they're probably hiding scared somewhere. I've had a couple that were attacked by something and they came back a couple days later. I even had a rooster that came back 3 months later! He was living on the neighbor down the streets farm.


I am a bit hopeful that the 3 missing hens return...they were feisty, young and I could totally see them getting away. I looked all over the yard and couldn't find them. They have gone over the fence, but not sure we live on a busy road. Didn't see any dead hens near the road this AM.

Will keep you updated...
 

mfr4550

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 17, 2012
45
2
84
Ogden, Utah
Hope you find the rest of your flock. I think many animals will eat the heads. I caught my dogs after they'd eaten the head off of one of my young chicks. I don't know if they'd have consumed the rest if I hadn't interferred. I also once had a bunch of baby rabbits that got loose. My son found them in the am - all without heads. It could only have been my dog (a different one than ate the chicks) or racoons.

Sounds like you have so many possibilities that you'll just have to make sure you protect your flock from everything in the future.
 

hollyinpa

In the Brooder
11 Years
Mar 12, 2008
93
0
39
We will be taking a break from raising chickens afte this traumatic event...I cannot, in good faith, get more chickens until I can be sure they are as safe from harm as possible. The scene we uncovered in the pre-dawn hours this morning broke my heart. Today I didn't get greeted by the girls when I pulled into the driveway. I didn't get gather eggs this afternoon and I didn't get to almost trip over them all as they happily waited for me to give them treats. I miss them all so much already.

Seriously, what are the chances that the three missing hens may return home?
 

MANNA-PRO

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