Although chickens and squirrels can co-exist, you may sometimes find chickens chasing squirrels away from their eggs, chicks, or food. But do squirrels ever fight back against the chickens?
Can squirrels attack chickens? Squirrels can attack chickens, and such attacks may end up with the chicken getting harmed. More times than not, such attacks are precipitated by a tussle for food and eggs. But it could also be triggered by chickens fending a squirrel away from their chicks.
In this article, we find out if squirrels can kill baby chicks. We also discuss some ways to keep squirrels away from your chickens.
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Will Squirrels Kill Baby Chicks?
Squirrels will kill baby chicks if they have to. Many people think squirrels are herbivores, so this revelation might come as a surprise. However, squirrels are omnivores, and if there is a need to eat flesh, they will. Plus, they are opportunistic feeders, so if the baby chicks are the only available food, they will go after them.
With their large incisors and molar teeth, squirrels can easily tear through the flesh of a baby chick. Of course, what comes after is the inevitable death of the defenseless baby chicken.
In the absence of options, squirrels can go as far as stealing a nestling that has just hatched. Lucky for the squirrels, baby chicks are helpless during the nestling phase since their parents are out in search of food. This state of helplessness gives them the perfect opening to attack and kill baby chicks.
Will Squirrels Attack or Kill Chickens?
Squirrels will attack chickens for their feed, chicks, and eggs. Then in some cases, squirrels will kill chickens during such attacks.
Generally, their primary targets are eggs and feed. But with time, if you do not nip them in the bud, they may start going after the chickens.
This menace is not exclusive to ground squirrels as tree squirrels also do the same. However, ground squirrels pose more of a threat than tree squirrels because they always hunt in packs.
Fortunately, most squirrels are afraid of humans. So, they can be easily scared away when caught in the act.
How to Keep Squirrels Away From Your Chickens
The following are some ways to keep squirrels away from your chickens:
Although chicken wires can help keep chickens in a coop, they are not strong enough to keep squirrels out. Hardware mesh (hardware cloth), on the other hand, can effectively keep squirrels and most predators out of the coop.
To keep a squirrel away from your chicken, cover every vulnerable entry space in the coop like the windows with hardware mesh. Also, bury the hardware mesh around the pen at least 4 feet deep.
When a squirrel is hungry and determined, it can easily chew through chicken wire or dig its way into the chicken coop. But with hardware mesh, this is very unlikely.
Squirrels cannot chew hardware mesh as readily as they chew chicken wire. Plus, since the mesh is buried at least 4 feet into the soil, the squirrels are unlikely to dig deep enough to go under it. In many cases, squirrels dig up to 3 feet deep, occasionally reaching 6 feet.
When you construct the run, bury the hardware mesh in a trench to create an underground security perimeter. The hardware mesh buried underground will prevent squirrels from digging.
Squirrels do not like the smell of garlic, cayenne pepper, or black pepper. So, you can apply some of these deterrents around the coop to keep the squirrels out.
Alternatively, you may mix them into the chicken feed. Ensure that you do not add something chickens cannot eat to the mix.
Besides the methods above, you may also sprinkle some pepper flakes a few feet away from your chicken coop.
Another effective way to protect your chickens from squirrels is by installing an electric fence. These fences are usually solar-powered, and they come with batteries that release electrical current throughout the barrier.
When a squirrel comes in contact with the fence, it will receive an instant and unpleasant shock. Although the shock is neither fatal nor painful to a chicken or squirrel, it will keep the squirrels away from your chickens.
Elevate the Coop
When you construct your chicken coop, ensure it is well elevated above the ground. This way, the squirrels cannot get into the chicken coop by digging.
Although squirrels are excellent climbers, they will find it difficult to get inside the coop to attack the chickens.
If you elevate the coop, ensure you provide a detachable ramp to get the chickens in and out of the pen.
Use the Figurine of a Predator
You can also keep squirrels away from your chickens by scaring them away with a statue or figurine of a predator.
The mere shadow or shape of a hawk is enough to send a squirrel scampering. Squirrels are timid and are always keeping an eye out for predators. The fear of being killed or eaten will prevent them from attacking your chickens.
Although the figurine may not blend with your compound’s design, it is an effective method to keep your chickens and their eggs safe from squirrels.
Keep Your Grass Short
For those with expansive gardens, always keep the grass near your coop short to prevent overgrown or bushy areas. Ensure the grass on your lawn is well maintained, and any thick bush should be at least 50-75 feet away from the coop.
Squirrels like to hunt during the day and tend to use thick vegetation for cover to reduce the risk of being attacked by predators.
In the absence of such cover, squirrels become easy to spot. Therefore, they can be stopped before they attack your chickens.
Use Guard Dogs
Another way you can keep squirrels away from your chickens is by using a guard dog. Aside from being natural prey to dogs, squirrels find the scent of dogs disturbing. So, understandably, they will stay far away from your chickens with a dog around.
Remember that dogs will also prey on your chickens. So to prevent them from attacking the chickens, you have to train them to guard the chickens.
A well-trained Rottweiler or Doberman will keep squirrels away from your chickens without attacking the chickens.
Squirrels certainly can attack chickens. But they usually do this when they are unable to get any of their regular food options.
On the bright side, it does not take much to stop squirrels from killing your chickens.
With any of the methods we talked about, your chicken coop should be squirrel-free in a short time.