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27 May 2010 / Liz Johns

The Night A Hedgehog Attacked My Hen

Hedgehog pretending to be sweet and adorableIt was a summer Saturday night. And I’d forgotten to close the door to the chook house.

3 o’ clock in the morning and David and I were awoken to the sound of a chicken screaming. No, I’m not using poetic language here, it was definitely a chook and it was definitely screaming. I’d never heard anything like it before. We hopped out of bed quick as a clichéd flash and ran outside to check the chook house. The door was open; the chook house was empty. This particular chook house was a converted dog kennel used by two of our chooks, Big Foot and one-legged Monkey. There are no perches inside and the two chooks spent every night safe and snuggled on the floor. Safe unless you leave the door open at night of course.

An investigation in the dark with a torch found Big Foot wandering around close by. But Monkey was squashed up against the gate … ON TOP of a hedgehog. She couldn’t move as she was pinned against the gate and stuck on the hedgehog’s spines. And screaming. We lifted her off, brought her inside, and checked her over. A few feathers missing but otherwise unharmed. (Phew). I rustled up a cheese and grape salad (her favourite dish) and she tucked in and calmed down. Put both chooks to bed, shut the door, and the night’s drama was over.

The next day I had a peruse on the net for chook-hedgehog incidents wondering if this had happended to anybody else and I found this hedgehog attack story that also happened in New Zealand. One chook was found dead in the morning with a stoat as a primary suspect, but the next night the owner heard a commotion in the hen house, went out and found a hedgehog gripping one of the chook’s legs in its mouth. I found out that although rare, hedgehogs do sometimes attack adult chooks by holding them firmly by the mouth and just hanging on until the poor chook dies of exhaustion.

Who would have thought it? I never knew that hedgehogs, those adorable, prickly beasties, would pose such a threat to full-grown chooks. They were too ‘nice’ to something like that, surely.

There was a second, less dramatic, hedgehog incident a few months later. It was early in the evening, only just dark and I went to the close the chook house door. Monkey was standing outside which was unusual as she usually took herself to bed. It was then that I found a hedgehog curled up asleep on her straw bed. I removed the intruder and then waited for about 10 minutes whilst Monkey looked in the door checking out every corner to see if it was safe. Finally she decided it was and hopped in.

So there it is chook owners, beware the killer hedgehogs. And don’t forget to close the chook door at night.


Leave a Comment
  1. wingclipped / May 27 2010 7:22 pm

    Wow! It was 3 o’clock in the morning – are you sure you didn’t dream it?!? Who would have thought the hedgehog would turn out to be such a vicious predator?


  2. Peter / Jul 6 2011 9:14 am

    Happened at our place yesterday.

    An injured hen over there in the torch light and over there an angelic looking ‘not me gov’ hedgehog. If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t have believed it!


  3. Johnny / Dec 6 2011 9:33 am

    Sunday night in Wellington,during a shower,i heard an awful scream coming from the garden.It sounded like a child but was in fact one of my lovely chooks!
    I sprinted down,torch in hand,to find a Hedgehog dragging at her wing and really determined to take her.I had little hesitation in despatching with the introduced pest,then cuddled my girl and took her into her coop.Goodness knows why she was outside in the dark OR what her sisters were thinking as she wailed.
    Death to Hedgehogs!!!


  4. Astrid / Jul 13 2012 1:56 am

    HI! Last night my lovely hen has been killed by a hedgehog!!
    Two nights before, she had ben screaming like hell and woke me up. I went to check and found a hedgehog nearby!
    Last night, unfortunatly, I din’t hear any scream… but this morning I found my hen dead, wounded by the spines of the hedgehog. Very, very sad 😦


    • Frances Bungard / Feb 19 2015 2:08 am

      Heard screaming in the garden tonight was our silky bantam that had a sore leg. It was away from the other chickens beside it was a hedgehog, could it have been attacked? By a hedgehog.


      • Liz Johns / Feb 26 2016 11:14 am

        Sadly yes. I hope your bantam is ok now.


  5. Sally Ann / Sep 28 2015 1:13 pm

    Tonight I was woken by blood curdling screams from the hen house we have no foxes or stoats so my henhouse is open with perches inside…. imagine my shock when I found a chicken being pinned down by a hedgehog held by the leg screaming… I flicked it off and it ran off I couldn’t find it in the dark. The unfortunate bird could not perch so I put her safely in a cat box for the night. Checked the others were all perched safely and came inside. I Googled the attack and came up with your blog.. I would never gave believed it. I have mysteriously lost chickens before thinking they just died in the night but now maybe I found the culprit…. hedgehog hunting in the morning I think.


    • Liz Johns / Feb 26 2016 11:13 am

      I know – it’s incredible isn’t it. Hope your chicken survived the attack okay. I’ve heard of a number of cases of hedgehog attacks, some fatal, against hens, so I keep my chooks safely locked up every night now. Once bitten (literally!) …


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