Many animals will not pass up the opportunity to attack, kill and eat a chicken. If you’re a poultry farmer you likely know how attractive these animals are to wild animals looking for a meal.
If you notice that your chickens are being attacked and that the animal attacking it is only eating the chicken’s head, you may be concerned. So, do raccoons eat chicken heads? This article looks into it
Raccoons do eat chicken heads, raccoons, as well as other animals, like weasels, possums, hawks, owls, rats, minks, and skunks, will not eat the whole chicken after attacking and killing it, only the head and a few other parts will be eaten
Do raccoons eat chicken heads?
Many animals that eat chickens leave clues about their presence. If a chicken is left with a missing head, a raccoon is a likley culprit
Raccoons are omnivores, they eat plant matter as well as animal matter. They are also opportunistic feeders, they eat anything they can find.
To chickens, raccoons are super predators and if left out, raccoons will definitely take the chance to eat a chicken, if they cant eat the full chicken they will eat the chicken head.
Why raccoons eat chicken heads and not bodies:
Chickens are large-bodied animals with small heads, their head will fit through the opening of a fence but their bodies won’t. Raccoons don’t know this
One case where a raccoon will only eat the chicken’s head is if the raccoon tries to pull the chicken through a fence but fails.
Chickens can be quite curious, and this can be their downfall. Raccoons know this and will reach in through the fence. The raccoon will wait until the chicken approaches and once the bird is close enough, the raccoon will pull its head off.
The raccoon will eat the chickens head on the other side of the fence and then leave
Signs of raccoons attacking chickens:
Other signs that your chicken has been eaten by a raccoon (if the raccoon can access the coup) is a carcass left with the insides eaten out and the feathers scattered, if the raccoon doesn’t carry the animal far away you’ll find it close to the chicken coop.
Missing eggs can also mean that your chickens have been visited by a raccoon
Other chicken head eating animals:
Raccoons aren’t the only animals that will eat a chicken’s head. Weasels do this as well. Weasels will infiltrate the chicken coop, eat a couple of chicken heads and leave (if the weasel is not found by humans).
Possums are capable of this behavior as well, just like the weasel, the possum will make its way into the coop, eat a couple of chicken heads, and disappear.
Depending on the circumstances, hawks, owls, rats, minks, and skunks can do this as well
Will raccoons kill chickens and not eat them?
Raccoons won’t kill a chicken and not eat it, raccoons generally only kill animals for food.
Raccoons use a lot of energy when killing animals for food, they will only kill the animal if there is no other food option available. Killing chickens and not eating them is a waste of energy
However, raccoons will kill chickens and not eat the whole bird, the raccoon will eat the head, the crop, undigested food in the crop, the chest, its entrails, neck, breast, and a little of the meat. They will only dine on more of the bird if they are very hungry
One animal that will kill a chicken for sport is a dog. If you find that your chickens are left dead in your yard but not eaten, only roughed up, then you can safely assume that your dog did it. Dogs will kill chickens for sport
Can raccoons chew through chicken wire?
Yes, raccoons can chew through chicken wire. These animals have very strong and sharp teeth which will chew through chicken wire like it’s tissue paper
Raccoons don’t always need to chew through your chicken wire in order to enter your chicken coop. These animals only need a small hole in your wire to gain access. The animal can squeeze through, create a bigger hole, and enter the coop to get to your chickens or eggs
If raccoons are chewing through your chicken wire, the next best thing to do is to use hardware cloth. Hardware cloth is quite sturdy, it is more unbreakable to raccoons.
You can also prevent raccoons from getting into your chicken coop by securing this cloth underground. To do this, bury the hardware cloth 2-4 feet deep around your chicken coop. This will keep raccoons out
In conclusion, yes, raccoons do eat chicken heads.
Different animals attack and eat chickens differently. Raccoons do not eat the whole chicken when they attack one. If the raccoon tries to pull the chicken through a fence, it will rip the head off and leave the rest of the body
If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other raccoon related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Do raccoons eat jalapeños?, Do raccoons eat hummingbird food?, Do raccoons eat humans?, Do raccoons eat grapes?