Sometimes squirrels will co-exist well with chicken; other times, the chicken will chase squirrels away from their food or eggs. If you’ve seen a squirrel or two in your backyard or farm, you’re probably wondering, ‘Will squirrels attack chickens?’.
In some cases, squirrels won’t run away from chickens. They’ll fight back. They don’t usually attack chickens, but when they are desperate to get to the chicks or steal the eggs, they will.
Can Squirrels Harm Chickens?
Yes, squirrels can harm chickens while fighting them for their food or eggs. Generally, squirrels won’t eat chicken, although they’ll feed on their dead carcasses. The only reason they would harm chickens is for their food, eggs, and chicks.
Do Squirrels Eat Baby Chickens?
Yes, they do. Squirrels are naturally herbivores but don’t shy away from eating flesh sometimes and will devour little defenseless birds like baby chickens. Squirrels are known to steal eggs, but they don’t stop there.
These cute furry creatures are from the rodent family, and their large incisors and molars can tear through baby chickens’ flesh given a chance. Ever heard the statement, ‘squirrels are rats with nicer clothes’? Looks like there’s some truth to that.
They are opportunistic feeders, much like those distant relatives (rats). When their natural food options are limited or unavailable, these mammals will have no choice but to eat the flesh of baby chickens if they have the opportunity.
Most people familiar with squirrels may find this chick-eating behavior unusual, but they are naturally wired like that.
Do Squirrels Steal Chicken Eggs?
If you thought that squirrels only eat vegetables, seeds, fruits, and nuts, you underestimated these little furballs. Squirrels will also eat insects, worms, young snakes, human snacks, and chicken eggs.
Just like with baby chickens, when other food sources are scarce, squirrels will eat what they can put their paws on. They will steal eggs from other birds’ nests or your chicken coop and run away with them just like they do with nuts.
Squirrels are hyperactive mammals and always need food to keep them going. When they are starving, they will do whatever it takes to get chicken eggs, even if it includes raiding birds nests when mother birds are away and stealing eggs from chicken coops.
Keep in mind that squirrels will only become egg thieves because there’s no food alternative at that time. While their natural food and first choices are nuts, fruits, vegetables, and so on, they also eat animal matter and will steal a chicken egg and eat it.
How To Stop Squirrels From Eating Chicken Eggs?
To stop squirrels from eating chicken eggs, make sure you collect the eggs twice a day. The most important thing they want from your coop is the eggs, but if you pick them frequently, there’ll be nothing for them to steal, and they’ll soon stop coming around.
If you have a large garden, keep the grass short to prevent bushy and overgrown areas near your coop. Squirrels hunt in the daytime and tend to hide in thick vegetation because they are at risk of predators in open spaces. The less cover they have, the more visible they’ll be before they attack the coop, so keep your lawn well-maintained with any overgrown grass at least 50-75 ft from your coop.
You can use guard dogs to stop squirrels from eating chicken eggs because their scent is disturbing, and squirrels are prey to dogs, so they won’t dare touch your coop. Remember that dogs are also potential chicken predators, so you must train them to guard the chicken, not eat them. Trained Dobermans or rottweilers will scare away squirrels.
If you love feeding squirrels but want to keep them from eating chicken eggs, it will help scatter some seeds and nuts outside your home or farm boundary. This will keep them happy and away from the chicken coops. They are looking for food after all, so give them some but scatter it far from the henhouse.
How about scaring squirrels away with a figurine or statue of a predator in your farm or compound space? This statue may put a damper on your compound design, but it’s an effective measure to keep your eggs safe from squirrels.
The mere shape or shadow of a hawk will send squirrels scampering. Squirrels are naturally timid and always on the lookout for predators. The fear of being eaten or killed will keep them away from your chicken eggs for good.
How To Squirrel Proof A Chicken Coop
Keeping squirrels out of your chicken coop will require extra effort but will be well worth it. Besides collecting eggs and eating chicks, squirrels also eat chicken feed and mess up the coop, destroying your property.
Chicken wire is good enough to keep the chickens in, but it’s not enough to keep the predators out. You’ll need hardware mesh for that. Hardware mesh, also known as hardware cloth, is made from a more robust material which their teeth can’t bite through.
Cover all windows, any holes, and vulnerable entry spaces with hardware mesh. A determined and hungry squirrel can break through the chicken wire or dig under the run to get into the coop.
Bury the hardware mesh 4 ft. deep around the coop when building it to keep squirrels from digging through the run. Generally, squirrels will dig up to 3 ft. deep, and occasionally up to 6ft.
When constructing the run, dig a trench then bury the hardware mesh to create a security perimeter underground. This underground hardware mesh will keep squirrels from digging.
Squirrels are repulsed by smells from black and cayenne pepper or garlic. Simply mix cayenne pepper in the chicken feed and around the coop. You can also sprinkle pepper flakes on the ground several feet away from your chickenhouse to keep the squirrels out.
Installing an electric fence is an effective way to squirrel proof your chicken coop. Usually, these fences are solar-powered with batteries that release electrical pulses throughout the fence.
A squirrel that comes in contact with your fence will receive an instant, unpleasant shock. It’s not painful or fatal to either the squirrel or chicken but will deter squirrels from trying to enter the coop again.
When constructing your coop, raise it over a foot above the ground so that squirrels won’t dig through the ground to get inside the coop. They might be excellent climbers, but they’ll have a tough time getting inside to attack chicken and steal eggs. Provide a detachable ramp for only when the chickens are getting in and out of the coop.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I keep squirrels from eating my chicken feed?
Store the chicken feed in metal containers and make sure you clean up any debris that has spilled. Squirrels love eating chicken feed, here’s some tips to help you prevent it.
Are Squirrels Afraid of Chickens?
Squirrels are naturally timid, and sometimes chicken will succeed in chasing them away. However, when these rodents are desperately hungry, they’ll put all fear aside to get what they want, even if it means attacking the chickens to get to the chicks and eggs in the coop. Chickens are protective of their young but are not as fierce as some other birds that squirrels would not dare to attack like the woodpecker or mockingbird.
In case you wondered or doubted, now you know for sure that squirrels are capable of attacking chickens, eating chicks, and stealing chicken eggs. However, they will only do these things when other food options are unavailable. They generally prefer to eat nuts, fruits, and seeds.
These little furry mammals can be frustrating and annoying, especially if you own a chicken coop. Whatever you do, refrain from poisoning them or trapping them as it is fatally harmful. Instead, use better alternatives to steer them off your coop.
You can keep squirrels away from your chicken house by using hardware mesh as an underground boundary, keeping a predator statue in the farm or compound, mixing bird feed with pepper, sprinkling nuts and seeds around the perimeter of your plot, and a lot more.
Squirrels are pesky but important as they contribute largely to planting many trees that the world desperately needs. When they bury their seeds, they grow into large trees. Sometimes they forget where they’ve buried their acorns, which grow into large oak trees.