Ferrets will actively kill chickens if given the opportunity and would show little mercy. They have sharp teeth capable of chewing through chicken coop fencing, and will find creative ways to get at chickens.
Even if ferrets don’t intend on killing chickens, they’ll roughly play with chickens causing death or severe industry. We’d recommend keeping chickens and ferrets well apart and take precautions even if chickens are kept in a coop.
Keep reading to find out how and why ferrets kill chickens, and how you can keep chickens and ferrets together safely.
Ferrets are carnivorous predators and will actively hunt chicken wherever possible. Ferrets can easily burrow into chicken coops or chew their way through chicken wire fencing. They’ll often pick on the smaller chickens and will also eat chicken eggs.
Do Ferrets Actively Hunt Chickens?
Ferrets are crepuscular predators that roam around looking for prey. Wild and pet ferrets can threaten your chicken flock if the coop isn’t protected.
Wild ferrets are skilled hunters, and they dig the ground to end up in the coop. Once they’re inside, all your chickens will be at risk.
Pet ferrets are fun animals that you can keep inside the house. But if you’re keeping your pet ferret in an outside enclosure, your chickens can still be in great danger because they’re escape artists and will manage to sneak into the coop.
However, the prey drive in ferrets is less than that found in other animals like weasels. This is why a ferret might only play with a chicken and not attempt to kill it.
Nevertheless, ferrets’ play is rather rough, and even if a ferret doesn’t kill the chicken on purpose, it’ll be severely injured or traumatized.
This is why it’s best to keep ferrets and chickens away from each other.
Adult chickens can be too large for your pet ferret to kill, but it will happily kill and eat your baby chickens. So, you should move your pet ferret to the house if you decide to raise chickens in your backyard.
Ferrets also enjoy feeding on the eggs. Larger chickens might be partially safe from the attacks of ferrets, but they can still get killed even if the ferret won’t eat them.
How do Ferrets Kill Chickens?
If a ferret is attacking your chickens’ coop, you’ll probably find many dead chickens but only one or two chickens eaten partially.
Ferrets can dig into the ground until they reach the chickens’ enclosure.
Unfortunately, they’re usually active around dusk and dawn when the backyard is quiet, so you might not be around to rescue your chickens.
These animals have four strong canines that they use to kill their prey. They eat all parts of the animal, including the bones, feathers, and internal organs.
They also need to eat frequently, so they will be regular visitors at the coop unless you do something about it.
Ferrets prefer to hunt baby chicks because they’re easier to target. They’ll also feed on the eggs found in the coop.
This is why you need to make sure that the chickens’ enclosure is sealed adequately because these animals can squeeze their bodies through the tiniest gaps and will attempt to sneak and feed on the chickens whenever they have the chance.
Do Ferrets Eat Chickens?
Ferrets prefer to have eight or ten small meals a day rather than one large meal. If they happen to sneak into the coop, they’ll probably kill and eat only chicken per night, and they’ll also drink its blood.
However, they might frequently visit to feed on the rest of the flock.
If you’re keeping a ferret as a pet, you can definitely feed it chickens. You can serve your pet ferret raw or cooked chickens once a month or twice a month if you’re buying special ferret food.
Ferrets can eat homemade food as long as it’s rich in proteins to keep the body in good shape. Protein pellets and protein supplements are essential to ensure that your pet ferret receives all the nutrition it needs.
Cat food also works, but in this case, you should consider feeding your ferret kitten food instead of the one made for adult cats. Kitten food has a higher protein content than adult cat food because it’s supposed to help the kittens develop.
How to Keep Chickens Safe from Ferrets?
Raising chickens and ferrets in the same household is possible, as long as you can guarantee that they’ll be away from each other.
If you have a chicken coop in the backyard, then your ferrets belong in the house. Ferrets are fantastic indoor pets, and you can take your pet ferret for a daily walk if you want it to enjoy the fresh air.
However, leaving the ferret unattended in the backyard means that your chickens will always be in danger.
The same applies to indoor chickens. They should never be left alone with a pet ferret in the same room.
Pet ferrets are tolerable of other animals, but their prey drive might take over, and they’ll start killing your pet chickens.
How to Keep Ferrets Away from Your Chicken coop?
Wild ferrets can present a significant danger to your backyard chickens if the coop isn’t ferret-proofed.
Chicken wire isn’t enough to keep your chickens safe from ferrets because these animals have flexible bodies and sharp teeth and claws, so they can easily cut the flexible wire and squeeze their bodies into the tiniest holes.
Nevertheless, there are other things that you can do to prevent the ferrets from stealing and killing your chickens. Here’s how to ferret-proof your chicken coop to guarantee the safety of your flock.
- Use concrete floors in the run, pen, and coop. Ferrets are able to dig through the soil, but they won’t be able to penetrate through the concrete floor.
- Clean the coop regularly and remove rotten food. If a chicken dies, remove it from the coop immediately.
- Clean the area around the coop because garden produce will attract ferrets.
- Remove longer grass in the backyard where ferrets might hide.
- Lock up your free-ranging chickens in the coop. Although some of your chickens might prefer to roost in the trees in your backyard, you should keep them safe in the chicken coop overnight if there’s a ferret nearby.
- Seal all the gaps in the coop. Ferrets and other rodents can squeeze their bodies through the tiniest holes, but hardware wire cloth will be a better option. Unlike chicken wire, hardware wire cloth isn’t flexible, and it has small holes that the ferret can’t pass through.
- Repair any cut wire in the fence or in the coop to keep the predators away.
- Bury the coop’s walls at least 12 inches into the ground. This way, the ferret won’t be able to move it and sneak into the coop.
- Consider raising the coop’s floor a few inches off the ground. Chickens will be able to fly into the coop to roost, but the ferrets will struggle to reach it.
- Use motion-sensor lights in your backyard. When a ferret approaches the coop, the lights will turn on and scare the ferret away.
Can you Keep Both Ferrets and Chickens?
You can keep both ferrets and chickens in the same household if they’re away from each other.
Unfortunately, ferrets will be tempted to attack your flock, driven by the smell coming from the coop that tells the animals that there’s plenty of prey nearby. Ferrets have an excellent sense of smell, and could easily detect a chicken coop in the garden.
This is why you need to make sure that your pet ferrets have no access to the chickens you’re keeping in the backyard or in a separate room.
The coop should be reinforced to prevent the ferret from sneaking and examined regularly to fix any gaps or holes that a ferret might be able to squeeze its body through.
Keeping both animals in the same room in the house should be avoided. Although a chicken can be a great indoor pet, and the ferret might accept its presence, it might attempt to roughly play with it. Even if the chicken doesn’t die, it might end up badly hurt.
In this case, it might be a good idea to keep both animals in separate rooms or watch them closely if they’re present close to each other. It’s not recommended to keep multiple ferrets in the same house with a single chicken because one of them is likely to kill it.
Ferrets are amazing pets and can be tolerant of other animals in the house, but they should be kept away from chickens.
Whether you’re raising free-range chickens in the backyard or keeping a chicken as a pet, you need to make sure that it’s protected from wild and pet ferrets.
In the backyard, you should ferret-proof the coop to make it inaccessible to ferrets. It’s crucial to seal all the holes because ferrets have flexible bodies that they can squeeze into the tiniest gaps. Keep your pet ferret inside the house to prevent it from attacking your flock.
If you’re keeping a pet chicken in the house, you should consider keeping a ferret in a different room.