New Nocturnal Predator

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Tango, Aug 6, 2004.

  1. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    My Catahoula has gotten very good at detecting opossums. She can even kill them herself. This is not an opossum.
    It is picking out my turkey poults and chicks, dragging them to the treeline or to the pond and eating everything but the mess of feathers left at the spot. I don't hear the alarm among the chicks or adults. My Catahoula goes crazy inside the house but has not been able to find anything when I release her. It must be very fast. A few possibilities for my area are: feral cat, racoon, fox, bobcat. We've had feral cats before but they wouldn't eat the whole carcass and the dog could give them a good run for their life. I've seen racoons and foxes in the surrounding area but never right here. When I open the door in the mornings, my cats rush in as if they were scared. Any ideas what we're dealing wth? I am in south central Florida.
     
  2. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    I'll guess it's either a fox or a coyote or both. They're the ones best known for leaving a pile of feathers and nothing else.
     

  3. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ...................Puma , sub species of the mountain lion . Bobcat....1 pound of Bobcat = 20 pounds of Dog. The other possibility could involve any kind of exotic cat that some fool thought they had to have as apet . Lion , Tiger , who knows ......fordy.... :eek: :)
     
  4. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I'm far from competent at identifying predators.

    However ... I saw a fox here a week or so ago. And he wasn't just fast, he was almost supersonic. I've seen large cats making get-aways before and the fox was much, much quicker than any of them. Very, very stealthy.

    If what you're finding is also characteristic of a fox attack, I'd make a guess it's a fox.
     
  5. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My guess is a fox.
    Get a footprint. Most wildlife identification books have sample prints.
    If the birds are enclosed, you can spread flour around the entrance to get a good print. If the access area is large, perhaps you could loosen and smooth the soil around the immediate area.
     
  6. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :) Tango...we have said many times here that it just doesn't make any difference "what" it is...if your birds are not protected..something is going to get them.

    I know it's the pits but it's the way things are. There are many things you can do to protect your birds and you probably know all of them. No dog or dogs can do it, even a Louisiana Cataloula Leopard Dog as wonderful as they are....you need to get your birds in a protected pen, yard whatever. ..and, anything can kill a oppossum..they just play dead and get killed. We have cats that knock them off all of the time here. We are talking about a critter with a brain the size of a pea! LOL On the other hand they do in the slugs and snails in my garden and dig up mole young and eat them, as well as being heck on mice. They are also practically immune to snake venom and carry no diseases that can hurt us. Their body temps are too low.

    It is unreasonable not to expect a predator to take advantage..they are making a living too. A vegas buffet, all you can eat...cannot be passed up.

    Would an electric fence help? Most four legged hunters don't jump the fence, they go through or climb it. I did say "most" not "all" .....a buddy of mine sat on his front porch and watched a cougar and then a lynx(he's in northern Washinton)and a raven make off with eggs, goslings and grown ducks. IT did him no good whatever to stand watch..they are just too fast.

    The sure way to protect them is a covered, secure yard, pen.

    Hope things go well for you and that you lose no more birds.

    LQ
     
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I thought maybe a weasel. But I don't think they eat the whole bird.


    Nomad
     
  8. Gercarson

    Gercarson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Cats are not all that afraid of raccoons - but they are terrified of coyotes and foxes - also, foxes are much "brighter" than coyotes and will figure out a way to get their dinner. Here in Northwest Florida "something" opened the door of what I thought was a very secure chicken coop and cleaned out my breeding stock. The signs pointed to either a raccoon or fox - the signs weighted mostly to the fox. The fact that you say feathers were left at the wooded edge make me think you have a fox problem. Is there a way you can let your dogs do night patrol as well as daytime security? Free range is ideal in my opinion, but sometimes it is best to have a varmint proof enclosure. Sorry to hear about your loses.
     
  9. Runners

    Runners A real Quack!

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    My mother - who lives near Lake Placid (So. central Florida) - has a problem with a black panther. It claws through chicken wire & hardware cloth, it's heavy enough to split seams when it jumps on top of the run.

    She has seen it, but won't kill it and doesn't seem to mind feeding it a chicken or duck every couple of days. Seems to think "it's protected" so there's nothing she can do. It only comes around at night, removes the entire bird and leaves just a few feathers where it eats it, which is usually on the edge of an open area.

    Panthers are like most predators, creatures of habit. They do quit when they're dead, the food runs out, or attempting to obtaining the food is painful. Electricify everything, sides, top, might work... but this one broke right through places where heavy wire was joined together.

    She no longer has ducks or chickens, and is also minus 1 cat & mini horse foal.

    I know what I'd do... but, she's decided to sell all the livestock...
     
  10. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone :) I've looked for prints but haven't found anything I can definitively identify yet. Mostly my dogs have run across anything by morning. If it is anything other than a racoon or an opossum, I will not kill it. I am willing to share my birds. They are destined for snake food anyway and their time is limited. I like to let them free range so they can have some quality time chasing bugs and taking dirt baths in the short time they have. It eases my guilt but they will die one way or the other. My hobby or breeder birds are kept in secure pens all the time or locked up at night. That probably sounds very strange to some of you, I'm a strange sort of person I guess :) If it wipes me out, I'll have to build another coop and wait it out, but around here someone else will shoot it, whatever it is. Note to self: must move further away from civilization. I'd love to see a coyote! :)
     
  11. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Hi Gercarson. I've seen racoons open locking mechanisms before. They are very diligent little guys. Sorry to hear about your breeding stock if you want anything I have - don't keep show birds or anything "fancy," just some heritage breeds- I'll give it to you. I can't let my dogs out all night to guard the place. The Catahoula will not let me sleep. She'll chase down all opossums and wild pigs within 5 miles :rolleyes: What a girl! :) It has to be something she can't catch or something that intimidates her. She has been acting a little skittish lately, come to think of it.
     
  12. OUVickie

    OUVickie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I wonder if it could be a bobcat or possibly a puma?
    If she's going wild and your domestic cats are acting freaky, they must smell something. Big cats will mark their territory and the dog and smaller cats can detect that scent. For the smaller cats, that's like a warning "stay out of my territory". Bigger cats are quick and can bound up trees in a flash when they hear someone coming. I had a bobcat cross in front of me the other day on the county road - I swear it was like a streak!
    Good luck solving the mystery!
     
  13. Gercarson

    Gercarson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thank you Tango - I have "started over" and am satisfied with what I have - actually I love what I have now. Coyotes are probably in your area right now and if you are out late at night and hear that high pitched "dog" barking in the distance - listen a little more closely. You attitude is very sensible - I hope you decide to stay right where you are and just really dig in - sink deep roots and make it your life-time home.
     
  14. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    @@@@@ RUNNERS..just what do you mean by "Black Panther"? That's a term used for Leopards and Jaguars who quite often have melanistic individuals but this is unknown in the Cougar(Felis concolor). We don't have naturally occurring Jaguars in Florida or Leopards either.

    It's quite easy to protect birds from Cougars and Jaguars both..although Jaguars are much stronger than the Puma. I am thinking that there is an American Black Bear at work there at your Mom's. IF so, help can be found at her local Fish & Wildlife office. ;)

    LQ
     
  15. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    @@@@@ RUNNERS..just what do you mean by "Black Panther"? That's a term used for Leopards and Jaguars who quite often have melanistic individuals but this is unknown in the Cougar(Felis concolor). We don't have naturally occurring Jaguars in Florida or Leopards either. So, if this indeed a big cat and it is really black it's an escaped pet and should be shot or captured.

    It's quite easy to protect birds from Cougars and Jaguars both..although Jaguars are much stronger than the Puma. I am thinking that there is an American Black Bear at work there at your Mom's. IF so, help can be found at her local Fish & Wildlife office. ;)

    LQ
     
  16. Actually bobcats are not a match for most dogs any more than a house cat is. We have had cocker spaniels kill bobcats. The catahoula should be more than a match for the average bobcat. The backbone of the bobcat is a very weak point which can be broken by most any dog the size of the bobcat. Of course the dog has to be willing to attack the cat and not depend on bluff to scare it off, which is usually the problem with many dogs.
     
  17. Tango, if there is only one or two entrances to the "hen house" put a couple cookie cooking sheets across the entrances with loam or damp sand. Doing so after closing up for the night will show the tracks in the morning if you have a visitor.