Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wilflife Annoyances..... Quillpigs and Great Horned Owls

Living outside of town brings lots of great and fun wildlife sightings, but occasionally they can be painfull, annoying or costly. We had three that we managed to photo-document recently.

First, a number of our young chickens were killed earlier in the season by a racoon getting into the pen.......

This lead to a pen improvement project. We put in corner posts so the electric netting could be tensioned, put in more supports to prevent sagging and reduce gaps under the fence, put down landscape cloth covered by 10mil black plastic to keep weeds back, overlaid that with river stone and filled gaps with larger rocks.

This seemed to mostly be effective. We may have temporarily trapped a possum inside and we have a few more improvements to make, but we thought we were over the hump. Then death reigned. Young turkey started being slaughtered or disappearing almost nightly. The kill patterns were odd, some coon like, some maybe Tom turkey kills, some none of the above. A full sized chicken (who had taken to roosting outside with the turkey) was found dead in the pen, so we set a trailcam up on it and found......

Death from the sky! Two great horned owls appear to be the primary culprits in the latest batch of fatality. Only thing still outside are full sized turkey, not sure if those are even slightly safe, but penning them isn't very practical, may have to put bird netting over their perches if they start to get taken.

Lastly Loki and Nixie (In a last outing prior to Loki moving to Iowa) ran into a quillpig and came out of it worse for wear. I had though Nixie had learned to leave them alone, but apparently the pack hunting instinct overrode common sense and vet visits were the result.......

I find this picture fascinating, the quills coming up just behind her nose were driven through the roof of her mouth, through her nasal cavity and up and out from the inside. I asked the vet about it and he said it was not possible as the quills would have had to have penetrated the hard pallet. Luckily google has a better education than the vet and I was able to find the below skull image of the roof of a dogs mouth. Two holes (foramen in medical jargon) towards the front of the mouth allowed the quills to be driven all the way through. You could look into her nose and see quills sticking up like stalagmites. It's now three weeks later and I'm still finding occasional quills emerging here and there, but it seems like we are getting to the end of them and she's happy and active.

You can't see it in the pictures, but her mouth is full of quills.

Loki got off easy, Chelsea managed to get 53 out (mainly from his leg) and only 18 or so were left for the vet. to remove. Three days later the trailcam caught the potential source of their discomfort walking around the poultry pen.

With a bit of luck we will stay away from the negative wildlife encounters for a while.

1 comment:

  1. those trailcams are nice. glad nixie made a great recovery and is happy again.