what steals chicks out from under a hen? UPDATE- now we know.. :P

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mud21, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. mud21

    mud21 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have (well, had) a broody hen on 4 chicks, about a week old, in the corner of my chicken-coop stall (it is a horse stall with chicken wire enclosing the open top portion and boarded up elsewhere), plus a cage top over them for the night. Well this morning I let the other chickens out, took the cage top off, and... there was the mother hen, but no chicks! They were just gone- nothing left, not even feathers. Something evidently tunneled under the stall wall, under the cage, and stole the chicks. The tunnel is not huge- just about big enough for a cat to get through. Does anyone know what would have done this (and how to get rid of it)? I was thinking maybe a weasel or a rat, but Im really not sure. It didnt bother any of the other chickens in the coop- of course, they were all up on perches, except the broody hen. It also didnt leave any traces. LIke I said, the chicks were just... gone. I am planning to set a box trap tonight and hopefully get rid of whatever-it-is, but on the other hand, all the chicks are gone, so Im in no real big hurry [​IMG]

    Still, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    My best guess would be a rat or a snake.
     
  3. TexasVet

    TexasVet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree... snake. Rat snakes are constrictors, so after the chicks are all gone it may go after a small hen, especially a bantam. A 4-footer crushed one of my pullets last year and then tried to swallow her whole, but she was too big. I found her on the floor, her head and neck feathers wet.

    I caught it at night, winding its way along the roost. The hens just stood up to let it by, seemingly not bothered by it.

    I've caught a few snakes by bunching up bird netting and staking it down around the outside of the pen. They try to crawl through the netting instead of over it and get stuck.

    Kathy, Bellville TX
    www.ChickenTrackin.com
     
  4. mud21

    mud21 Out Of The Brooder

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    I had kind of thought snake at one point but I figured they wouldnt still be active right now... we had a frost last Sunday! And would a snake dig a tunnel under a wall like that? I found some other spots around the stall that had been dug at, too...
     
  5. laughingllama75

    laughingllama75 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    sorry to say, I lost abunch of chicks to rats that way. [​IMG]
    I almost guaranty it's rats
     
  6. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It was a rat.

    While snakes will take the opportunity to eat chicks, I've never known a snake to burrow or tunnel to get to prey. They'll use existing tunnels, but they won't dig their own, not overnight.

    However, rats are very productive at digging and could very well dig a tunnel overnight to reach a food source. I am fairly confident it was a rat. Weasels would have taken the mother killed the mother and left a bigger mess. Rats will grab young chicks and drag them into the tunnels for consumption.
     
  7. mud21

    mud21 Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, thanks for all the suggestions.. but now I know for sure; this morning my trap was occupied. It was a skunk! So we took him far away (very carefully, I might add!) and let him go, and hopefully that is the end of the problem. I had heard that skunks would get chicks but I didn't think one would steal them like that!
    Anyways, now we know! [​IMG]
     
  8. M To The Maxx

    M To The Maxx Baseball+Girls=Life

    Jul 24, 2009
    Lutz,FL
    Quote:I would think the skunk would kill the hen though too. [​IMG]
     
  9. laughingllama75

    laughingllama75 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yeah......I am betting it was NOT the skunk....there are more skunks out there than you know. set the trap again for a while, bait it with tuna or cat food. I guarantee you will catch more. I hope it wasn't a rat, but still thinking it was. [​IMG]
     

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