Most Wanted: Top 12 Chicken Predators

Posted by Daphne Cybele
Fox Chicken Predators
Jean-Baptiste Marie Huet, 1766, via Fine Art Museum of San Francisco

Do you know the top 12 chicken predators and how to protect your chickens from them?

Your backyard chickens can be a magnet for predators. As chicken keepers, it's important to set up a secure chicken coop to protect your flock.

The first step to protecting your flock is to identify potential predators. Here is a list of the top 12 chicken predators so you can protect your backyard chickens.

1. Hawks 

Hawk
Audubon

Hawks prey on chickens and are hard to defeat without an enclosed overhead run.

2. Foxes  

Fox
Antique Fox bookplate via Grandpa's Market

Foxes are well-known for their love of a chicken meal. They are more likely to strike in the evening.

3. Weasels 

Weasel
Via LiveScience photo by Cecil Sanders

Weasels (including fishers which are in the same family) are fierce chicken attackers.

4. Snakes

Snake
Photo: The Walden Effect

Snakes can get into small openings and hide in coop bedding. Chicken coop construction should be sturdy, floors should be solid, and gaps in door openings should be 1/4 inch or less.

5. Unfriendly Canines

Canines
Christopher Bruno via Wikipedia

Unfriendly canines such as dogs, coyotes, and wolves can dig under fencing or push open unsecure sliding chicken doors.

6. Raccoons  

Raccoon
PBS

Raccoons can twist open chicken wire. Be sure to use welded wire mesh hardware cloth instead of chicken wire on window and door openings. Also, doors should latch tightly using a child-safe lock.

7. Great Horned Owls

Owls
Factzoo

These sneaky predators can walk right in the coop and sidle up to a roosting chicken.

8. Bears

Bear
Youtube

Yes, bears will break into chicken coops.

9. Felines

Felines
Mlive

Felines such as bobcats, cougars, mountain lions, feral cats, and even domestic cats are all chicken predators.

10. Opossums

Opossum
Cody Pope via Wikipedia

Opossums are omnivorous and will prey on chickens.

11. Skunks and Badgers

skunks and badgers
WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife

These animals are also known to make a meal of chicken.

12. Rats

Rats
Larry Friesen via Outdoor Alabama

Rats are also a threat - particularly to baby chicks and eggs.


When your chickens leave the safety of the coop during the day, it's harder to protect them from predators. Consider covering your outdoor run to protect your chickens from hawks and snakes during the daytime. If your chickens free-range, make sure they can take cover under something if a hawk flies overhead. A secure fence should help protect your flock from unfriendly canines.

If you are unsure what sort of predator is lurking around your coop, one way to find out is to watch for tracks in the snow or spread a layer of sand around your coop. Match the tracks from the predators on our list. We use a tracking book. You can also identify predators by the scat they leave behind or how they wound chickens.

Now that you know the top 12 chicken predators, you're armed with the knowledge you need to secure your flock in the safest possible coop.

These are common predators! Always make sure your hen house is safe and if they are free-ranging they need places to hide. Your chicken run should be protected with hardware cloth so at nighttime they're safe from domestic dogs and birds of prey!

Which chicken predators have you spotted or dealt with? Let us know in the comments below!

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Most Wanted: Top 12 Chicken Predators