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Do Chickens Eat Mice?

Chickens are eating machines who and they’re also omnivores which means they will happily graze for living creatures as well as vegetable matter, seeds and grains.

When a chicken finds a tasty living morsel they’ll gobble it up quickly before it’s spotted by another member of the flock. They’ll hunt for protein-rich living treats of all shapes and sizes, including bugs, worms, slugs and snails – but do they have what it takes to take on a mouse?

While not commonly known, chickens can and sometimes do eat mice, as they are opportunistic eaters and natural foragers. This behavior is more common in free-range chickens that encounter mice in their environment. Eating mice provides additional protein, which can be beneficial, especially for growing or laying chickens.

Read on to find out more about chickens eating mice along with the potential risks of eating mice.

Are chickens good mousers?

Chickens make excellent mousers and in many cases, they’re on par or better than a cat when it comes to catching rodents.

Chickens have excellent eyesight which means they can quickly spot a mouse who has entered the coop or run during the day. They will go after the mouse and often fight within the flock to grab parts of the mouse from each other.

This sounds pretty gruesome, however, this is natural chicken behaviour in their aim to consume protein-rich treats. For a chicken, a mouse is a more unusual treat which will cause a lot of excitement within the flock.

Chickens will help to keep mice numbers down around the coop and any area where they can free-range.

Unlike cats, chickens are not so good mousers at night time because once it goes dark they can’t see and will stay still while they roost. If a mouse is able to get into the coop at night time there is little to no risk of it being eaten by a chicken.

Can mice make chickens sick?

There is a degree of risk with any rodents because they are known to spread disease, however, in most cases the risk to chickens is low and if a mouse happens to wander into the coop it would be very difficult to stop the chicken from eating it.

It’s also impossible to watch chickens all of the time to know exactly what they’re finding to eat, especially if they’re free-range.

One of the main threats to chickens though eating mice is the potential to eat a mouse who has been poisoned by a rodent poison.

Once a mouse has eaten poison it can take a number of hours for it to die and during this time there’s a risk it can be eaten by a chicken or another animal especially if the mouse is incapable of running away.

It’s for this reason that natural, yet humane methods should be used for rodent control if you keep chicken, or the job should be left to the chickens themselves.

Other than mice, have a look at other food your chicken can eat.

Can chickens swallow a whole mouse?

Gruesome alert! when chickens find a mouse they tend to peck it and pull it apart to make it more manageable for eating, it’s actually a good thing if this happens because it reduces the risk of choking.

While they do this, other chickens will join in to attempt to get part of the treat. This can lead to a squabble for the mouse within the flock as they all try to get it away from the chicken who found it.

Because other chickens will try to steal a mouse from the one who found it, this can lead to the mouse being swallowed whole. In most cases, the chicken will be unaffected by swallowing a mouse whole, but it’s good to look out for any signs of choking or digestion problems.

If your chicken does swallow a whole mouse, don’t panic because chance are it will just carry on doing whatever it was doing before like nothing ever happened.

It’s just good to keep an eye on the chicken for a little while to make sure the mouse goes down ok with no issues.

Once the chicken has swallowed food it will move into the crop where it’s softened up for digestion. In rare cases, a compacted crop can occur, so in the case that a chicken does eat a large amount of food in one go it’s good to be aware of this potential issue.

A chickens ability to swallow a whole mouse will also depend on the size of the chicken and the size of the mouse. A small breed chicken will struggle to swallow a mouse whole.

Do chicken coops attract mice?

Chickens themselves don’t attract mice, but chicken coops and run spaces do. This is because a coop provides everything a mouse needs such as warmth, shelter, food and water.

As well as chickens eating mice, there are some other things you can do to prevent mice from spending time around the coop, these are:

  • Make sure you only feed chickens what they need so there is no feed left on the ground or in the feeder.
  • Remove any leftover food in feeders if the chickens have gone in to roost.
  • Make sure there are no cracks or holes which a mouse can get through (except ventilation holes which should always be uncovered).
  • Closing the coop door after the chickens have gone in to roost will prevent pests and also predators from getting into the coop once it goes dark.
  • Keep chicken feed in a sealed container or bin making sure the lid can’t easily blow away or be knocked off.

Don’t worry too much if you do see a mouse because they are everywhere especially if you live in the country. Most of the time mice don’t pose any threat to chickens and unlike rats who can bring greater problems.

This article was first published on November 4, 2020 by Pentagon-Pets.

Example of a raised chicken coop with shelter underneath

Can you feed dead mice to chickens?

When chickens find and eat a mouse it’s really just a one-off treat which they can have and enjoy in addition to their normal feeding routine.

Chicken feed contains all the energy and nutrition which a chicken needs to stay healthy, so there is no reason why you would need to feed dead mice to chickens. Feeding dead mice to chickens on a regular basis poses a risk of disease along with potential digestion problems.

Although mice are a source of protein, a good chicken feed such as layers pellets contains all the protein a chicken needs. Chickens will also forage for lots of other good sources of protein such as bugs, worms, slugs, snails and worms.

Related post

Now you know everything you need to know about chickens eating mice, you might also find the following related posts helpful too:

What not to feed chickens – the ultimate guide

Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on November 4, 2020.

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Our recommended coop

Chicken coop for different flock sizes and different weather.

This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on November 4, 2020.

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