Last week a fox attacked our chickens. This was no sneaky night attack, this was a middle of the day, sun shining, full-on ambush. Luckily husband, Juno (our 20 pound terrier) and myself heard the raucous from inside the house and launched ourselves into the back yard.
A large healthy fox had his canines burried into the back of our beloved hen, Beatrice. Husband threw his keys and anything else he could dig out of his pockets while I shouted, but he refused to release his midday meal until Juno rushed into the mix and bit him on the muzzle. Beatrice lay limply on the ground and I grabbed Juno before anyone else got hurt.
Once the fox slinked off, feathers still stuck to his mouth, I was able to examine Bea. She sustained significant feather loss and 2 large bite wounds and a deep puncture to her back. As a vet, I know bite wounds can be the worst as we don’t know how deep those canine teeth have actually penetrated. Not to mention all the bacteria that can be seeded into the wound from the attackers mouth.
How to handle bite wounds…no matter what species:
1) Ensure all parties are safe. Safely separate the fighting animals without putting yourself in harms way.
2) Assess the situation. Is the victim breathing? Can you safely transport the animal to a local vet clinic? If there is any excessive bleeding can you place pressure on it?
3) Realize that the animal is most likely in shock. Place them in a safe, warm, and quiet environment until you can organize transport to a vet.
4) Immediate vet attention is essential, especially if the animal is having difficulty breathing or is actively bleeding.
5) The vet will assess the physical damage and stabilize the patient. After administrating pain medication and attending to serious bleeding or respiratory distress, your vet will then speak to you about whether X-rays, blood work, hospitalization, and/or surgery is recommended.
(after a few stitches, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories, Bea survived the fox attack. She is doing great four weeks later, and is still leading the carefree, freeloading life of a chicken who hasn’t layed any eggs for us in over 3 months!)