Do Weasels Eat Chickens & How to Keep Them Safe

As chicken keepers, it’s our job to keep our chickens happy, healthy, and safe. This means protecting our chickens from the dangers of the outside world. Chickens have many natural predators and need some form of protection at all times. If you know what animals prey on chickens, you can learn how to keep them out effectively. Predators can vary from area to area, but if you have weasels in your area, you might be wondering if they’re a threat. Do weasels eat chickens? How can you prevent weasels from getting into your yard?

Do Weasels Eat Chickens

Yes, weasels are a natural predator of chickens and will eat them. Weasels are excellent hunters and can easily squeeze themselves through holes to get into your chicken coop and/or run, but there are ways you can keep them out.

What Are Weasels

Weasels are small carnivores with long slender bodies. They are part of the Mutelids family of carnivorous animals, which includes stoats, polecats, ferrets, and minks, and they are primarily located in the Northern Hemisphere. 

They can be found in the wild in Central and Western Europe, the Mediterranean region, North Africa, Asia, some parts of North America and have recently been introduced in New Zealand.

Most weasels are brown with white underparts, although their entire coat turns white during the winter. Weasels are usually captured and hunted for their high-quality fur known as ermine. Their tail hairs are also commonly used for paintbrushes.

Weasels are very powerful and skilled predators. They generally hunt alone and can travel up to one and a half miles away to find food. They’re built for chasing rodents through their burrows and can fit through holes the size of a quarter. 

They’re notorious for getting into chicken coops and killing chickens. Weasels must eat very frequently and kill a lot more than they can eat at once and stash the rest for later. This is why some chicken keepers might find dead chickens dragged to the corner of their coop or run but not eaten.

What Do Weasels Eat

Weasels are carnivores and primarily eat rodents such as mice, voles, rats, and rabbits. Mice and voles make up about 80% of the weasel’s diet, but they can also eat and hunt other small creatures such as fogs, birds, shrews, chipmunks, fish, and even insects.

Although weasels prefer to hunt smaller animals, they have been known to eat chickens. This usually happens if they are having trouble finding food elsewhere.

How To Tell If Weasels Are Getting Your Chickens

According to Country Pests, if weasels are responsible for killing your chickens, it will be undeniable. Some predators of chickens will run off with an entire chicken making it impossible to tell what predator problem you’re having. With weasels, they usually kill more than they’ll eat at that moment and leave a lot lying around, making it easy to tell they were there.

Chickens that weasels have attacked might have missing heads or bitten necks. Weasels kill their prey by biting their necks which might sometimes mean a decapitated chicken.

Weasels have also been known to attack near the vent of chickens, causing their entrails to spill out. This might also be common with raccoons or skunks as well.

Another sign of a weasel attack is a chicken that is bloody but not eaten. Weasels will usually kill more than they can eat at the moment, which means a lot of dead chickens for you. Weasels might drag your chickens to the corner of the coop or run “stashing” it for later. They might also line up the dead chickens in a row.

How To Prevent Weasels From Getting Your Chickens

Considering how dangerous weasels can be to your flock, it might be a good idea to weasel-proof your yard and chicken coop. This will also make sure other natural predators of chickens will be kept out too.

Always start first by taking preventative measures. This means removing things from your yard that might attract predators like garbage, left out food, fallen fruit, and even hiding places like piles of branches or debris.

You should always lock up your chickens in their coop at night. If your chickens are out roaming around or their coop door is open, it’s an open invitation for predators to come and get them. In their coop, they have some form of protection.

You can weasel-proof your chicken coop by sealing any holes or cracks they might get into. You can also raise your chicken coop a few feet off the ground. This will prevent them from digging into the inside or come in through any cracks in the side.

Motion-activated sprinklers have also been used successfully to scare away weasels and other predators. Weasel traps should be used as a last resort but can effectively solve the problem. Just make sure to buy live traps so you can safely relocate the weasels without causing them any harm.

What Other Predators Do Chickens Have?

Unfortunately, chickens have a lot of predators. Other predators you should be aware of are iguanas, bears, coyotes, foxes, hawks, etc.

You can’t watch your chickens all the time, but you can take steps to ensure the chicken coop or run is properly secured to help keep them safe.

Conclusion

Weasels will eat your chickens if they are having trouble finding other food. They are a natural predator to chickens and are excellent hunters. Weasels are very long-bodied and skinny carnivores that live primarily in the Northern Hemisphere.

Weasels prefer to hunt smaller animals such as mice, voles, rats, rabbits, frogs, they will raid chicken coops. 

Signs of weasel predation include decapitated chickens, bloody but not eaten chickens, chickens with entrails out, or dead chickens lined up neatly in a row.

Weasels need to eat often and therefore will kill a lot more than they can eat all at once. This means if they attack, you might find a few dead chickens at a time. There are ways you can prevent weasels from getting your chickens. Some of the things that work best are motion-activated sprinklers, filling in holes in your coop, and raising your coop a few feet off of the ground.

If you know you have weasels in your area, it’s essential to take precautions and make sure your chickens are safe.