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I started raising chickens this year and lost my first chicken. Not a big deal, but I'm not sure what killed it. I now have 14 young chicken (2 months old). Walking up to the coop I noticed about 6 small dig holes that were only about 1-2 inches deep. I found the chick inside the locked up coop. There was a gash on the chest area and feathers missing around the neck. The neck and head were wet, but nothing was eaten. See attached pictures.
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I don't think the holes have any relation to the predator.
It could be a snake tried to swallow it an realized it was too big.

The holes look more like something a squirrel would do.
 

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I'm sorry about your chicken, I have no idea on what might have killed it. But around here, holes in the ground like that would be gophers (more deadly to your garden than your chickens).
 

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Happened to talk to my chicken lady friend today and brought up your chicken. She said wet head but not decapitated is probably a failed attempt at eating the chicken by a snake (chicken suffocates before snake gives up, wet head from snake digestive juices).
 

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holy cow you have snakes big enough to eat a chicken!!?? omg

Sorry to hear about this, hope you can seal up the coop to keep it out.
 

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holy cow you have snakes big enough to eat a chicken!!?? omg
This one wasn't big enough to eat that chicken. ;)
I've seen Black Rat Snakes swallow large pigeons though.

They don't know they can't swallow the chicken until they try:

https://www.muranochickenfarm.com/2018/09/keep-snakes-out-of-chicken-coop.html
A snake will kill a full grown chicken even when it's glaringly obvious that it could never swallow a chicken that size.

Many chicken keepers have found a deceased chicken with a wet looking head and neck.
That happens when a snake kills then tries to eat something that is too big. It gives up and spits it back out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Happened to talk to my chicken lady friend today and brought up your chicken. She said wet head but not decapitated is probably a failed attempt at eating the chicken by a snake (chicken suffocates before snake gives up, wet head from snake digestive juices).
That was my thought, but I can't account for the gash, would a snake really do that?
 

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I don't know about the chicken, but the holes look like a weasel or a skunk looking for mice or a mole.
 

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That was my thought, but I can't account for the gash, would a snake really do that?
The gash didn't look that fresh to me. They could have happened at two separate incidences. Or maybe it struggled and hit an object while the snake was hunting.
 

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I can't say anything about the gash, but the head/neck looks exactly like my pullet that was killed by a rat snake. The durn snake didn't realize that the chicks had grown too big to eat, so it tried, then had to back off. Haven't had a single incident since, so apparently snakes can learn.
 
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