Animals that eat chickens are a serious concern to backyard chicken keepers.
These predators range in species from domesticated pets like cats and dogs to wild creatures like foxes, raccoons, and hawks.
For the welfare and protection of the chickens, it is essential to defend a flock against these predators.
In this post, we’ll give an overview of several typical animals that eat chickens and offer advice on how to keep chickens safe from harm.
Owners of chickens can safeguard the security and safety of their cherished feathered friends by taking preventive steps.
Let’s get going!
Hawks are known as one of the animals that eat chickens, posing a significant threat to backyard flocks.
Species such as Red Tailed Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Eagles, Kites, and Harriers are large enough to kill bantams or full-sized chickens.
While hawks are not spree killers and only kill to survive, their presence can result in devastating losses.
Key signs of hawk attacks include scattered loose feathers, dead chickens with most of the body eaten, or even the absence of clues with the entire body missing.
To protect chickens from hawk attacks, ensuring the coop is secure is crucial, with all openings covered by wire mesh instead of chicken wire.
Regularly checking and securing the coop, particularly in the evenings, can help deter hawks from entering and preying on the flock.
Cats are also one of the animals that eat chickens. Both domesticated and feral can pose a threat to backyard chickens.
While training a house cat to stay away from chickens may be challenging, introducing a kitten to full-sized chickens from a young age can help establish boundaries.
However, feral cats can be more problematic, and trapping may be necessary to address the issue.
It’s important to ensure the chicken coop is secure by regularly checking and locking it in the evenings.
While cats are not typically known for eating entire chickens, they may attack and injure them, leading to death or distress.
Appropriate measures to protect the flock, such as reinforcing coop security and managing cat access, can help mitigate potential risks.
This is the next on our list of animals that eat chickens. They are shrewd, intelligent hunters who can be a serious menace to flocks in backyards.
In addition to North America, Europe, Asia, Japan, Australia, and Northern Africa, foxes can be found all over the world.
In the United States, red foxes, in particular, are commonly sighted. These adept predators take the time to plan and strategize their attacks, which makes them effective hunters.
Foxes prefer to prey on smaller animals like rats and voles, but they won’t hesitate to attack poultry or, on rare occasions, even cats or dogs.
Because they have successfully adapted to urban settings and may live there, chicken caretakers must take precautions to safeguard their flocks from these nimble and audacious predators.
Wolverines are also one of the animals that eat chickens. They are not commonly known for attacking chickens, but in rare instances, they may target free-ranging chickens they come across.
Wolverines are cautious and wary of humans, making them unlikely to approach human habitation. These opportunistic predators are more commonly found in remote and rural areas.
To prevent wolverine attacks, it’s important to keep your chickens close to the coop and not allow them to wander too far. Installing an electric fence can be helpful in deterring wolverines.
Additionally, removing brush piles and potential hiding places around the coop area can minimize the risk of encounters with these fierce predators.
Raccoons are incredibly smart, adaptable, and resourceful predators that threaten chickens significantly.
Despite their lovable appearance, these striped bandits can cause havoc in chicken coops.
Raccoons have adapted well to city life and are known for rummaging through trash and occasionally preying on small animals like cats and dogs.
They have the ability to reach into coops and grab chickens, often leaving behind evidence such as head and crop consumption, partially eaten chickens pulled through fencing and empty eggshells.
To prevent raccoon attacks, it’s crucial to secure the coop with sturdy fencing buried into the ground and bent outward to prevent digging.
Coop latches and doors should be securely locked, and additional measures like removing brush piles and ensuring a clean and mowed perimeter can further deter raccoons.
6. Fishers and Martens
Fishers and martens, both weasel family members, are predators that can threaten chickens.
Although fishers are about the size of a house cat, they are known for their fierce nature and will attack when cornered.
While they are less likely to target a well-protected coop in areas with human presence, chickens that free-range in wooded areas are more vulnerable to these small but formidable predators.
Signs of fisher or marten attacks may include bitten rear ends of birds and pulled-out insides.
To prevent such attacks, chicken owners should pay special attention to breeds that love to forage in wooded areas, such as the Speckled Sussex, and ensure the coop is secure with proper fencing and latches.
Removing brush piles and potential hiding places can also help deter fishers and martens from targeting chickens.
Coyotes are known to pose a threat to chickens, especially those that are allowed to free-range.
While they generally prefer to go after free-ranging chickens rather than attacking a secure coop, they are opportunistic and can cause significant damage.
Coyotes are skilled hunters and can quickly snatch and carry off chickens.
To prevent coyote attacks, keeping a large, clean, and mowed perimeter around the chicken’s ranging area is important, removing any brush piles or hiding places where coyotes can lurk.
Secure fencing extending at least three feet high underground can also help deter them.
Additionally, it is crucial to avoid leaving gates open and supervise chickens outside, especially during dawn and dusk when coyotes are most active.
Dogs can threaten chickens as they have a natural prey drive and may view chickens as potential targets for chasing or hunting.
Many dogs cannot resist the temptation to play with chickens, which can injure or kill the birds.
Even well-meaning dogs that are not actively aggressive can unintentionally cause harm to chickens due to their size and strength.
It is important to only leave dogs alone with chickens if they have been properly trained and socialized around livestock.
These animals that eat chickens should be supervised when interacting with chickens and kept securely separated from the flock when unsupervised.
Secure fencing and strong latches are essential to prevent dogs from accessing chicken coops and runs.
By taking precautions and ensuring proper management, chicken keepers can minimize the risk of dog-related predation and create a safe environment for their flock.
Skunks are opportunistic predators that may occasionally target chickens, although they are likelier to go after eggs and small chicks.
While it is rare for a skunk to attack a fully grown chicken, it can pose a threat to vulnerable young birds.
Signs of skunk predation may include dead chicks, a faint skunk odor, and the abdomen of the prey eaten, leaving muscles and skin behind.
Keeping your coop locked and secure is important to prevent skunks from attacking your flock.
Skunks are known for their digging abilities, so ensuring that the coop is well-fortified and buried wire extends outward from the coop by two to three feet can help deter them.
By implementing these measures, chicken keepers can minimize the risk of skunk attacks and protect their chickens.
Badgers, both the North American and European species, are opportunistic predators that may target eggs and chicks.
While they are unlikely to attack fully grown chickens, badgers are known to dig or climb into coops in search of feed.
However, the Honey Badger, found mainly in Africa, the Middle East, and India, is an entirely different story.
Honey Badgers are fearless and ferocious predators that will go to great lengths to access chickens. They can literally tear apart a coop to reach their prey.
To prevent these animals that eat chickens from attacks, it’s important to bury wire that extends outward from the coop by two to three feet, ensuring a sturdy and well-secured coop with strong locks.
By implementing these measures, backyard chicken keepers can protect their flock from the relentless pursuit of badgers.
Weasels are highly efficient and ruthless predators known for their small size and agility.
These cunning animals that eat chickens can access tiny spaces and exhibit a bloodthirsty nature, often killing more chickens than they need for food.
They typically target chicks and eggs, showing no mercy in their attacks.
Weasels leave multiple small bites on their victims’ heads, necks, and bodies. Their presence poses a significant threat to the flock’s well-being.
To protect chickens from weasel predation, it’s essential to regularly inspect the coop for any new holes and promptly seal them with wire mesh.
Securing windows and vents is also crucial. Implementing preventative measures against weasels, such as maintaining a vigilant eye on the coop’s security, is essential to safeguarding the flock from these relentless killers.
Although not commonly known for attacking adult chickens, rats can threaten chicks and eggs. These vermin are likelier to target and kill young chicks and steal eggs from nests.
They may crawl into feeders and contaminate the feed with urine and feces, which can spread diseases among the flock.
While controlling rat populations can be challenging, various methods, such as trapping and using barn cats, can help keep their numbers in check.
However, caution should be exercised with poison, as it can harm chickens if they consume the poisoned rats.
Vigilance in monitoring the coop for any signs of rat activity and promptly addressing new holes or entry points is crucial for protecting the chickens from rat predation.
Snakes are next on our list of animals that eat chickens. However, snakes have a particular fondness for eggs and can swallow them whole.
They may also enter the coop through small holes to access eggs or chicks.
While they can be beneficial by keeping down populations of rats, mice, and chipmunks, their appetite for eggs and chicks can be problematic for chicken keepers.
Preventing snake attacks involves ensuring there are no holes larger than ½ inch for them to enter the coop or run.
Some chicken keepers tolerate the occasional lost egg in exchange for the snake’s role in reducing vermin. Larger chickens, like Jersey Giants, can also handle small snakes.
Bears, though not a common predator of chickens, can threaten coops and their inhabitants.
When bears become hungry, they can be drawn to the smell of chickens, chicken feed, and garbage.
While attacks on coops are not frequent, bears have been known to target chickens given the opportunity.
Signs of bear predation include trashed coops and ripped fencing. To prevent bear attacks, it is important to lock the coop securely every night and ensure that windows and vents are properly secured.
Additionally, removing attractants such as food and garbage can help deter bears from the vicinity of the coop.
Vigilance and appropriate security measures are key to minimizing the risk of bear predation on chickens.
Bobcats, medium-sized wildcats native to North America, is also one of our list of animals that eat chickens.
While they are unlikely to attack a secure coop in close proximity to human habitation, free-ranging chickens in remote areas may be at risk.
Bobcats have the ability to climb and jump, making it essential to ensure that all doors are securely locked at night and windows and vents are properly secured.
Though bobcats primarily prey on smaller animals such as rabbits and rodents, they may target chickens if given the opportunity.
The risk of bobcat predation can be minimized by implementing appropriate security measures and watching free-ranging chickens.
Minks, small carnivorous animals that eat chickens, are capable of causing significant damage to chicken flocks.
Despite their relatively small size, minks are agile and skilled hunters that can access small spaces and wreak havoc on chicken coops.
They are notorious for killing more chickens than they need for food, often displaying bloodthirsty and ruthless behavior.
Signs of mink attacks include multiple small bites on the head, neck, and body of chickens, as well as missing chicks and eggs.
To prevent mink attacks, it is crucial to ensure that coops and runs are secure, with no openings or holes that minks can squeeze through.
Regular inspections of the coop’s integrity and reinforcing weak points can help deter these relentless predators and protect the flock from their destructive tendencies.
17. Crows and Jays
Crows and jays are large animals that eat chickens and are known for their intelligence and resourcefulness.
They have a penchant for stealing eggs from nests as a quick high-protein snack.
While they generally do not directly threaten adult chickens, they can be a nuisance when it comes to egg theft.
Signs of their presence include missing eggs and eggshells found in or near the coop.
Securing coops and keeping chickens from wandering too far away from their property is important to prevent such incidents.
Installing an electric fence around the coop can provide extra protection against these opportunistic animals that eat chickens.
18. Mountain Lions
Mountain lions, also known as cougars, are not common animals that eat chickens but may occasionally attack them, especially in remote areas.
They are more likely to target free-ranging chickens rather than attack a secure coop.
It is important to keep a close eye on breeds that like to roam freely, such as the Dominique Chicken, and take precautions to secure the coop area.
Chicken keepers can minimize the risk of mountain lion attacks by maintaining secure coops and preventing chickens from wandering too far from their property.
Additionally, installing an electric fence around the coop can provide extra protection.
Opossums are generally not known for attacking fully grown chickens, as they are more inclined to scavenge and consume dead animals.
However, they can pose a threat to chicks and eggs. Opossums are opportunistic feeders and will happily consume chicks and eggs if given a chance.
While they benefit from eating ticks and other disease-spreading insects, protecting your chickens from their potential predation is important.
Signs of opossum activity include empty eggshells scattered around the nest and missing small chicks.
To prevent opossums from accessing your flock, it is advisable to collect eggs frequently, secure the coop to prevent their entry and remove any food sources that may attract them.
If necessary, you can attempt to relocate opossums to another part of your yard or seek assistance from animals that eat chickens.
This is the last on our list of animals that eat chickens. Owls are also known to be animals that eat chickens.
These nocturnal birds of prey have excellent vision, silent flight, and sharp talons, making them skilled hunters.
While they primarily feed on small mammals and rodents, they can target chickens if given the opportunity.
Owls such as the Great Horned Owl and the Barred Owl have been known to attack and kill chickens, particularly during the night.
Signs of owl predation may include missing birds, talon marks on the chickens, or feathers scattered around the area.
To protect chickens from owl attacks, securing the coop with sturdy fencing is essential, such as covering openings with wire mesh and keeping chickens safely locked inside during nighttime hours when owls are most active.
Additionally, deterrents such as bright lights or reflective objects near the coop can help deter owls from approaching.
Keeping chickens in your backyard is a serious responsibility that requires you to safeguard them from predators.
Many other creatures, including hawks, cats, raccoons, coyotes, dogs, skunks, badgers, rats, snakes, bears, crows, mountain lions, and opossums, have been included in our article as chicken eaters.
Each predator has unique problems and necessitates particular safeguards.
There are many ways to reduce the risk of animals that eat chickens, including installing electric fencing, surveillance systems, and locking coops and runs with strong locks, fences, and wire mesh.
A safer atmosphere can be created, and the loss of cherished birds can be decreased by proactive and watchful chicken caretakers protecting the flock.