Chicken predator : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

What catches chickens out of a tree just before daylight, then only leaves the head and part of the neck behind? All that is left is what would be there if you chopped the head off with an ax. No other feathers, etc. Any idea? These chickens are sometimes 25 feet up in the tree.

-- Green (, April 29, 2001


Coon? Opossum?

-- grant (, April 29, 2001.

Green I don't know where you are but a fox WILL climb a tree.I've personally seen them snatch cats from trees and kill them.Depending on your location it could be fishers,pine martins,et al they are BIG weasles and are making a big come back since trapping is now so uncool.I think you are dealing with one of the big weasles myself.They are neat critters and I'm glad to see that the anti trapping propagandists were wrong about how they were being wiped out.I don't know how to help with the chickens......other than a rifle and a good spotlight.

-- greg (, April 30, 2001.

I'd say a raccoon... An owl could do that with poults, but not adult chickens... It would have to be a Great Horned to do that to a chicken... Any droppings in the area?

-- Sue Diederich (, April 30, 2001.

Hi, Green. I haven't had chickens in a few years because of all the predators and I didn't want to keep them in wire pens 24/7 ! Weasels usually take the heads only. I did have a large owl attack a silkie hen in the daylight evening hours...who would have gotten away with her if I hadn't yelled and chased the owl away. Do you have bobcats ? I live in se Missouri, and was just told recently that we have black panthers. We also have alot of exotics that do seem to escape or get turned loose. I have heard also that the grey fox is a great tree climber, Possums that got mine....seemed to take only the rear part. Coons went off with everything. Good idea to check around for droppings, tracks, etc. I really miss my chickens and their eggs. It was just too much to lose them to the hungry wild animals. And the black huge rat snakes were not my favorite. Good luck ! Nan.

-- Nan Bignall (, April 30, 2001.

I cannot find any tracks. I woke up again this morning at 4:30 because the chickens were having a fit. I jumped up and ran out and found nothing. I've been leaving a light on outside near the chickens to give them a chance to see what was after them, but apparently it didn't help. Two of the roosters that normally roost in the cedar tree were on the ground, and a hen was missing. She showed up this morning. I have dog pens about 30 feet from the tree, and dogs loose, but not one of them barked. Even after I was out there with the flashlight and the dogs were with me, not one hit the scent which is unusual because one of them is extremely barky and likes to trail things. Anyway, after about 20 minutes of looking for whatever it was, the chickens at my cousin's house about 100 yards down the road began to have a fit, and then one of them was caught. I could hear it screaming as it was hauled off into the field in back of his house. I thought about going to see what it was, but the cousin is really handy with a rifle at night and I was afraid I'd get shot myself.

We do have weasels, at least in theory, as well as coyotes, wolves which the wildlife people claim we don't have, mountain lions (black and regular), bobcats, red and grey fox, possums, skunks, civet cats (rarely), mink, coons, and great horned and barred owls.

Which one would take off the entire body and leave only the head and neck near the site the bird was caught?

-- Green (, May 01, 2001.

Hi, my hubby and I think it is one large OWL ! Haven't a clue, aside from sitting up waiting, on how you stop the attacks. I'd try putting the chickens up in a safer place....if ya can catch them ! Nan.

-- Nan Bignall (, May 01, 2001.

the head and neck thing is what hung me up on this puzzle.Raptors usully pull SOME feathers off and try to bolt part of the animal before they fly off to a safer place to eat.We had a critter that was killing chickens here for a while.It left a slight trail if you looked for it.Often along the trail I would find the head neatly bitten off.Never did find the body.The killing stopped and I never did find out what was doing the killing for sure.I did however spot a LARGE weasle like animal on the back forty in the area where the trail used to peter out.I'm thinking some sort of martin.I know the stories of weasles only taking the heads and leaving the body but have never seen it personaly.Weasles go for a spinal bite to kill off prey quickly thats why I'm thinking it was of that family.Sue may have some input regarding raptors.They nail the base of the skull as well, AFTER they hit and stun the prey they would leave some feathers around.This is a mystery and I hope you will let us know what it was if you catch the culprit in the act.

-- greg (, May 01, 2001.

Another thought. At least you have the head, so, maybe you can tell HOW it was severed by teeth marks or pulling apart and such. The other thought is from listening to Art Bell and some of his "out there" guests.....maybe a creature from out of the underground, I will not suggest an elemental type alien. But....dern, they say these things are being seen more lately. I, personally, have not and don't want to ! If you stay up....I would have my dogs close by. My pair of Rat Terriers are the best watch dogs ! The two lab crosses we also have are good and big, but, they aren't the first to sound the alarm. A gun handy would be good, too. But, you probably know all that...Nan.

-- Nan Bignall (, May 01, 2001.

Green, how's the nocturnal activity been lately?:)

I think Greg is on to something with the martin idea, but I don't know if we have those this far south. We have pretty much everything that likes to eat and then some, but martins are generally more northern, right?

-- Doreen (, May 01, 2001.

Hi. Green, your chicken predator is odd ! By throwing in the art bell/alien idea....I hope I haven't "scared"? anyone. If it is a large weasel...seems like the dogs would be on guard. Where do you LIVE ???? I hope that is not too personal-your story just really is interesting and strange ! Peace, Nan.

-- Nan Bignall (, May 02, 2001.

I live in Camp County, Texas, which is 60 miles south of Oklahoma, 60 miles west of Arkansas, and about the same from Louisiana. There has been very heavy duty logging in this section for about 2 years now, and we are having all sorts of critters move in beside us now. I have about 5 acres that to my knowledge have never been cut, and will stay that way so long as I can still put beans on the table otherwise. There is a strip of uncut timber here that is about 1/4 mile wide and 3 miles long. Most of it had been cut over about 20 years ago and not replanted so that it is mostly scrubby trees and lots and lots of brush. It could be anything. And Nan, you didn't scare me. I listen to Art Bell, too, when I have insomnia or when my son is still up rattling around and making lots of noise. Actually, we have even had some big foot type sitings around here, but that's been years ago. I really don't venture too far from the house after dark, and then only with dogs. And if it doesn't "feel" right, I go back to the house even if the dogs don't seem to be upset. I was the one who had the mountain lion screaming about 50 feet in back of the house last year. I'd posted it on C-side asking for help in scaring it away. We trimmed up some brush and it seems to have moved on.

I don't know what all type of critters live here. I do know that the man who used to read our electric meter told me that when they have power lines down over near Jefferson (50 miles away) they don't ever just send one truck into the bottoms at night. They never send less than 3, and there are guns present. He said that they didn't know what was down there. They had seen several things that no one knew what they were. He also said that sometimes they hear things down there that are not "right". Jefferson is on Caddo Lake, which is a natural lake that was dammed to make it higher. It is swampy there and several horror movies have been made there. I think part of Interview with a Vampire was shot there. Anyway, it is pretty rough in that area. The creek in back of my house ultimately runs into Caddo Lake. This entire area has a lot of ghosts and unexplained things. In fact, my ISP sign in is This place is so haunted that it isn't even funny, or amusing. I've lived in this house off and on for nearly 50 years, and the haunting is getting worse all the time. The other houses in this area are also haunted, as well as the land itself. They don't need a structure to haunt. (NOTE: If you feel ghosts are just figments of the imagination, I'm proud for you. Until you've lived with them, you don't know what it's like. And don't any one start the religious lecture here. Many of the folks here are or were good Christians all their lives and were still haunted. Thank you.)

The head of the chickens doesn't appear to be torn off. It looks like someone cut it off with a hatchet after having pulled the skin downward toward the body. The head is removed very near the body of the chicken. It may be an owl. We have Great Horned Owls here. When we lived closer to Mt. Pleasant, we used to see an own there that stood about 3 feet tall. He would catch things in the back yard at night.

What really gets me about this predator is that it passes up easier prey, like the rabbit that was out of it's cage the night the last chicken was taken. And also the ducks that are impossible to keep in the pen.

-- Green (, May 02, 2001.

Ok looks like the head was chopped off with a hatchet and you are near a swamp.How bout an infestation of Cajuns? Have you been hearing airboats and zydeco music at night?If the house is haunted I rather doubt it is Cajuns because they have a thing about haints and such.I rather doubt it is common rednecks as they would be more inclined to molest your sheep and goats.You would also find beer cans and 4x4 tracks.Are any side show attractions missing any geeks?It has been harder for them to find work in these days of political correctness and some uncaring carnival boss might have turned one loose in your area to fend for itself.Contact PETA to find out if they have a geek trapping and relocation program.(it could be a of the dumb shits may take you up on it)Hope this helps.This one still has me stumped

-- greg (, May 02, 2001.

Hi, Green. My husband has worked in your neck of the woods. He runs a drill rig and does soil samples. He said it is BEAUTIFUL where you live. Have you seen the predator, yet ? I agree...'don't think I would be outside in the shadows trying to catch it...doesn't sound like a ghost would need mortal meals ! Maybe some swamp flying dinosaur ??!! I saw a pair of the Great Owl here in Missouri several years ago. It was in the early evening and it was two of them circling my rabbits which I had in huge colony pens outside on the ground. I happened to be in one of the pens. The owls saw me and went to a tree line and waited a good 15 min. before deciding? that I wasn't leaving. They were huge ! I had big rabbits....they could have easily taken one off. I suspect YOUR rabbit is a future breakfast for your stalker. Be wary ! Nan.

-- Nan Bignall (, May 03, 2001.

Well, the rabbit has decided he will stay in his cage again. I think it is an owl. We don't have zydeco music here....too far north and west. What we have is Mexican polka music. We get that regularly from what used to be the Bronco club. Now it is the Hole in the Wall club. They are about 3 miles away, but we still get music from them anyway. The sheriff closes them down for disturbing the peace, and next week they are at it again. We also get a lot of dopers that think this little country road is a good place to hide their stash, or just to sit and enjoy the weed. We do get a lot of 4X4's here. I'm not sure why, because all the roads are paved. Even mine. When the county got suddenly rich from the oil boom in the 70's, they finally did something right and used the extra money to buy the equipment and oil to mix up oil dirt and spread on the roads. This road went from a rutted up lane that was near impassable 5 months of the year to being almost like driving on the highway. There are times of the year that it is pretty here. It was a lot of prettier before the great logging push. I've never missed anything I actually thought the ghosts ate, but they do wake us up asking for food sometimes. They haven't been too bad lately. They usually get worse in hot summer though. Well, thanks everyone. If I ever do find out for sure what has been getting the chickens, I'll post it! Thanks again.

-- Green (, May 03, 2001.

Hi Green! I am from your neck of the woods just north of Jefferson. Make no mistake about it, there are some wierd things that go on in Northeast Texas. It sounds like your problem is an owl. All I know is that from growing up in in East Texas, animals will act real weird at times. This is most likely the case. I have personally seen some crazy things in my day from hunting way back in the bottoms and being around Caddo Lake. Its probably an owl. A weird one at that.

-- Shaw (, October 03, 2001.

I think you have yourself a genuine human chicken thief!

-- Charlie Campbell (, September 27, 2002.

Similar problems with my flock. From the date of your first posting. I think you might have found that you have a Great Horned Owl.

-- jb (, October 30, 2002.

Did anyone mention black panthers? Would the black panther leave the chicken as you have described?...I wonder. Have you heard the rumor about 100 black panthers being released into Oklahoma to control the skunk population? I didn't hear when or where,or if they are neutered or if there would be a plan in place to capture or kill these after they have done their job. I have been searching for information to confirm or deny this rumor.

-- (, November 28, 2002.

its probably a weasle because i have chickens and a weasle used to catch them and leave the head. even though we put our chickens in a closed pen (only until we caught the weasle)the animal still caught them. i dont know how but it did so we fixed the pen better, made sure that there were no holes or anything the weasle could go through. the next day more chickens were gone! it kept on killing them. so we put them in cages above the ground and went to bed. the next day there were footprints around the closed cage but the chickens were alive. after a couple of days the weasle left and didnt come back. so i say its probably a weasle.

-- philomena arruda (, January 08, 2003.

I just found this site while looking for an answer to my own chicken predator problem. Having said that, please forgive me if this is the "answer only" section of the board. Something is getting my chickens about every third night, until today. It must have gotten hungry early because it struck today around 3:30 PM. It kills the chicken inside the fenced area, and leaves a big mound of clean, dry feathers. I saw a small grey fox crossing the road near my house a week ago. I have set a live trap every night and I haven't caught anything, but somthing keeps turning my trap upside down and eating the tuna. When I have had to use the trap before, I always catch a racoon and the killing stops. Any ideas on what this could be?

-- fuller (, January 16, 2003.

i really couldnt be surprised if it was a fox. we had about fifty chickens last year. now we have four. we just baught some bantees and what do you know, a fox scaled the fence yesterday with something white in it's mouth. we got the fox who was doing it last year. it was about the size of a large dog. this one makes it look like a puppy. i hope it was only the salt lick that was out there. they steal those quite a bit. im worried this year because our outdoor cat just had kittens recently. three of the. one white, one orange, and one calico. any tips on how to get rid of a pesky fox? shooting them doesnt seem to bother them. and they are always out in the day time. i was walking out back one day and it started walking towards me. that was last years though. this one is gigantic!

-- shanda (, May 02, 2003.

Hi, We deffinately have an owl taking our chickens. We dont know how to stop it. It's big. Wing spread of at least 5ft. I run out yelling every time I hear it. I did the light thing to. Didn't work. It waits till there is no movement and takes the chicken. We are not suppose to kill the owl, so what in the world do we do to keep our chickens alive?

-- Windy Shaughnessy (, November 24, 2003.

fuller i would put tent stakes in the corner of your trap or put log cains rock stuff that is heavy on the roof of the cage of the predator is still close spray fox coyote urine on the posts of the pen.

-- chicken killer :) (, May 10, 2004.

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