Do you often see muskrats sneaking around your coop? And maybe you have the odd chicken vanish now and then (disappearing in thin air)? You may wonder if they’re the ones eating them!
Muskrats are omnivorous rodents. They mostly prefer a plant-based diet (cattails, sedges, and other aquatic vegetation). But when things get out of hand (food is limited), they don’t mind eating chickens as well.
Unfortunately, I know this for sure because I caught them feasting on my feathery pals red-handed in the coop.
Today, I’ll get into the details of:
- Do muskrats eat chickens?
- What other predators eat chickens?
Will muskrats eat chickens?
Yes, muskrats can and will eat chickens (if they don’t find something else), though not with a lot of pleasure!
Let me explain this to you more clearly! These rodents are omnivorous, which means they eat both plants and animals. But their favorite food is plant and aquatic vegetation, and they always vouch for it.
So, if their usual diet (plant-based) becomes unavailable due to an increase in their population, they’ll go ahead and eat your chickens. They might also go after other animals like small fish, insects, and amphibians. Why? Because they can’t die of hunger! Right?
Now, how can you tell if muskrats are the culprits for eating your chickens? Well, it’s very easy. Here’s how you can guess:
1. Living Near An Aquatic Place
If you have a house near an aquatic place (lakes, ponds, rivers, etc), and your chickens are magically disappearing, it could be muskrats!
They live near water and sometimes in it, too. Also, they love digging holes around aquatic places.
So, if you find these holes and observe the plants being chewed up, it’s mostly a 100% possibility that muskrats are around. They are the ones causing trouble for your chickens.
2. Eating On The Spot
Muskrats come and attack your chickens and never take them home. They are known to devour meals right on the spot.
Also, when they are trying to grab your feathery friends, they might leave their own fur behind.
I have quite some experience in this department. That’s why I know that their fur is a mix of dark brown and black colors on the back and sides. The underparts are of lighter shade.
This further proves that muskrats are to blame!
3. Leaving Their Marks
It’s time to put on your detective hat and grab your microscope! If you suspect muskrats are up to something near your chicken coop, they’ll definitely leave behind their footprints.
And you know what? Muskrat prints are pretty easy to spot because their feet have webs, like a duck’s.
So, if you see anything similar, you’ve cracked the mystery wide open, my friends!
4. Attacking At NightTime
When the sun goes down, muskrats like to come out to eat (night owls, to be more precise).
So, when it gets dark, you can head out from your home and have a peek in your chicken coop.
So keep an ear out, too. They make strange noises while approaching their target. This is how they expose themselves!
What other predators eat chickens?
Apart from muskrats, there are a number of other predators that love your chickens and will eat them (without second guessing). Do you want to know who they are and how they smartly approach their target? Let’s begin!
Foxes are very clever animals and are way faster than it seems! They do their hunting at night (Just like muskrats).
If you find chickens missing from your coop, it could be a sign that a fox paid a visit. They have a habit of killing more than they can eat in one go.
What’s interesting is that foxes bury the extra food they can’t finish in a secret closet underground.
And there’s more! These cunning animals have a strange eating style. They don’t bother chewing bones. In fact, they just gobble everything up whole. That’s why you may spot feathers lying around that are big proof that a fox enjoyed your chickens.
2. Birds of Prey
Meet the sky hunters – hawks and owls. These birds will steal away your chickens (especially the smaller ones), and you would not even know!
Thanks to their superhero-like vision, they can spot things from way up high and plan their next moves.
Also, they don’t make a lot of sound when flying. This is an added advantage when they’re trying to catch your chicken.
Both hawks and owls have strong talons (sharp claw-like things on their feet) and beaks. These are their tools for catching and gripping their yummy chickens.
And guess what? Owls are night-shift workers. They like to hunt in the dark (more like muskrats).
Hawks, on the other hand, prefer to keep things going when the sun is up. Either way, your chickens will always be in danger.
Let’s talk about weasels. These small (but tricky predators) can be a real challenge for your chickens. Even though they’re tiny, they’re super good at getting into small spaces around the coop. They find their way into anything without anyone noticing!
They can take on animals much bigger in size than them, and sadly, chickens don’t stand a chance against them!
Their strategy involves wrapping around chickens and biting the back of their necks. What’s more? They can wipe out an entire flock in just one night.
I know it’s a tough situation, and my sympathy goes out to you.
Raccoons are really clever and can figure out how to get anything to eat! Chickens are innocent and are pretty easy targets for them.
Interestingly, they have hands that work almost like human beings. They can grab, twist, and turn things with their fingers. This makes them super good at opening doors and latches. Mind you, your chicken coop isn’t safe!
When it’s dark, they get active and love exploring. Your coop might be on their list of places to check out during their nightly adventures.
They usually leave puncture marks near the head of your chickens and leave them half-eaten on the spot. This is the very same thing muskrats do!
So, now it’s pretty clear that muskrats eat chickens, not because it’s their favorite food but for the sake of survival. Apart from that, you also know which other predators are after your feathery friends.
It’s time to make your coop a secure place for your chickens so that they can relax and enjoy!