Raising backyard chickens can be a rewarding experience. But nothing is more frustrating than going out to collect your eggs only to find the nest empty. If you’ve ever wondered ‘What is stealing my chicken eggs? ‘, you’re not alone.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll outline all the common egg thieves you need to watch out for and provide tips on how to protect your flock’s eggs.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: The most common chicken egg thieves include snakes, opossums, raccoons, skunks, ravens, blue jays, squirrels, rats, mice, foxes, dogs, and cats.


Types of Snakes that Eat Eggs

Several types of snakes are notorious for stealing chicken eggs. Here are some of the most common egg-eating culprits:

  • Rat snakes – These efficient rodent hunters also have a taste for eggs. Rat snakes are adept climbers and can easily raid nests.
  • Kingsnakes – Like rat snakes, kingsnakes are skilled climbers that will eat birds and eggs. They are found throughout most of North America.
  • Racers – These fast-moving colubrids are opportunistic egg thieves. They raid nests and can devour eggs quickly.
  • Coachwhips – These slender snakes can climb into poultry houses and are guilty of eating freshly laid eggs. They strike quickly at nesting hens.
  • Corn snakes – Though they typically eat rodents, corn snakes sometimes eat eggs when the opportunity arises. They’re found in the southeastern U.S.
  • Gopher snakes – These heavy-bodied constrictors consume eggs in addition to their regular diet of rodents and other small animals.

Other snakes known to occasionally raid nests and consume eggs include bullsnakes, pine snakes, and milk snakes. Generally speaking, any opportunistic snake that’s agile enough to climb into a chicken coop may eat eggs.

How to Deter Snakes

Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to try and dissuade snakes from stealing eggs:

  • Eliminate places where snakes hide – Keep vegetation trimmed near the coop and remove wood/debris piles, which offer shelter for snakes.
  • Use snake-deterrent plants – Plant marigolds, onion, or garlic around the coop, as snakes dislike their strong scents.
  • Apply repellents – Spread mint oil, cinnamon, or sulfur around the coop to make the area unappealing to snakes.
  • Install obstacles – Place hardware cloth mesh around the base of the coop to block snakes from entering.
  • Use predator guards – Hang cone-shaped baffles over nest box entrances to deter snake entry.
  • Get a watchdog – Some dogs, like terriers, will patrol for and chase away snakes.
  • Set traps – Both glue and live traps can help remove egg-eating snakes from the area.

Following a diligent coop maintenance routine and using multiple deterrents is the best way to protect eggs. Be sure to secure any openings snakes could use to access nests. Persistence is key when trying to outwit egg-loving snakes!


Opossum Egg Eating Habits

Opossums are notorious for raiding chicken coops and eating eggs. As opportunistic omnivores, they will eat anything they can find, including bird eggs. Opossums are drawn to chicken coops because they provide an easy meal. They typically enter coops at night when chickens are asleep on their perches.

An opossum can devour over a dozen eggs in one night.

Opossums use their dexterous front paws to pick up eggs and their sharp teeth to bite into them. They lick out the insides of eggs ravenously, leaving empty shells scattered across the coop floor. Some warning signs of opossums stealing eggs are holes gnawed in coop wire, eggshells with small holes pecked in them, or finding eggs missing from nest boxes.

Opossums Target chicken eggs because they are high in protein. Their appetite for eggs increases in spring and summer when female opossums are gestating and nursing their young. A female opossum with a litter of babies to feed can wipe out a whole coop of chickens’ eggs in no time.

Excluding Opossums from the Coop

Fortunately, there are several methods to deter opossums from pilfering chicken eggs. Securing the coop is the first line of defense. Check for any openings in the coop wire larger than 1/4 inch that need patching to block opossums.

Bury hardware cloth at least 12 inches around the base of the coop to prevent digging underneath.

Electric poultry net fencing around the coop perimeter can deliver a non-lethal shock to repel opossums. Motion-activated lights and sounds also help startle nighttime intruders. Make sure to collect eggs frequently, don’t leave any sitting out overnight.

Removing potential food sources compels opossums to hunt elsewhere.

Trapping and relocating repeat offender opossums away from the coop may be necessary. Just remember when evicting opossums to release them at least 5 miles away to dissuade their return. With vigilant coop maintenance and deterrents, chickens’ eggs will be protected from thieving opossums.


Raccoon Egg Theft

Raccoons are notorious egg thieves that can wreak havoc on a chicken coop. These clever bandits use their human-like hands to skillfully open nesting boxes and make off with eggs for a tasty snack. According to research from Purdue University, over 70% of predation on chicken eggs is caused by raccoons.

This is likely because raccoons are highly adaptable omnivores and exceptional problem-solvers.

Raccoons raid nests primarily at night and have very sharp teeth that can chew through wood, wire, and even aluminum. A raccoon can devour over a dozen eggs in one night once they discover an unsecured coop. They are willing to go through great lengths for this high-protein food source.

Raccoons are so persistent that if one entry point is blocked, they will search relentlessly for another opening.

Raccoon Prevention Tactics

Fortifying a chicken coop is essential to prevent recurring raccoon attacks. Below are some tips to deter these egg bandits:

  • Use welded wire fencing and securely reinforce any openings larger than 2 inches x 4 inches
  • Place locks on all doors and nesting box access points
  • Install electric fencing around the exterior of the coop
  • Use predator-proof latches on doors and windows so raccoons cannot open them
  • Deter raccoons with outdoor lighting and sounds near the coop

Raccoon raids can be very frustrating for chicken owners. However, taking proactive prevention measures can greatly reduce egg theft and damage. Be vigilant for signs of attempted break-ins and maintain a fully fortified coop at all times.


Do Skunks Eat Chicken Eggs?

Skunks are absolutely drawn to chicken coops for the prospect of a tasty egg meal. These nocturnal egg thieves have a great sense of smell and can sniff out a chicken coop from far away. Once they locate the coop, skunks will dig under fences or squeeze through small openings to get access.

They are dexterous climbers too, managing to get over barriers if a low spot is found.

Skunks use their long claws and snouts to crack open eggs once discovered. According to research from USDA National Wildlife Research Center, when presented with chicken eggs, skunks will eat about 3 whole eggs on average during each daily raid.

Since skunks are omnivores, eggs often become a part of their varied diet. In fact, studies show that chicken eggs may account for up to 10% of a skunk’s total food intake. Rural skunks in particular will regularly bypass other prey when chicken coops allow easy access.

Skunk Deterrents

Protecting chickens and their eggs from savvy skunks takes work. Here are some smart tactics to try:

  • Install an electric fence around the coop perimeter
  • Use motion-sensor lights and sprinklers
  • Make sure there are no openings bigger than 3 inches
  • Bury fencing at least 12 inches underground
  • Clean the area frequently to prevent attractive smells

Implementing multiple deterrents is best to keep those sneaky skunks away! Make your coop an egg-safe fortress.👍 Persistent skunks may need to be trapped and relocated by wildlife professionals.


Common Egg Eating Birds

Many species of birds are known to eat eggs, especially chicken eggs. Some of the most notorious egg thieves include crows, jays, grackles, magpies, ravens, opossums, raccoons, snakes, rats, foxes, and weasels. Here are some of the most common birds that raid chicken coops for eggs:

  • Crows – American crows and fish crows are incredibly intelligent and opportunistic birds. They watch chicken activity and patterns to find the perfect time to swoop in and steal eggs.
  • Jays – Blue jays often work cooperatively to raid nests. One jay causes a distraction while others steal eggs. Jays are brave and aggressive egg eaters.
  • Grackles – Common grackles are social birds that feed and roost in large flocks. Their sheer numbers allow them to overwhelm small flocks of chickens and rob nests.
  • Ravens – Clever ravens are effective nest raiders, mimicking hen calls to distract chickens while stealing eggs. Ravens can carry off multiple eggs in their large beaks.

Other habitual egg stealing birds include crows, magpies, common ravens, American kestrels, raccoons, opossums, snakes, rats, weasels, and foxes. These sneaky creatures will take every opportunity to swoop in and steal freshly laid eggs and are the bane of many chicken keepers.

Protecting Eggs from Birds

Fortunately, there are several effective techniques to deter egg-eating birds and protect your flock’s eggs:

  • Collect eggs frequently – Don’t leave fresh eggs sitting in the nest during the day when birds are most active.
  • Use fake eggs – Place plastic or wooden eggs in nests to discourage birds stopping by.
  • Block nest access – Enclose nesting areas so birds can’t physically get to the eggs.
  • Use nesting boxes – Dark, enclosed nest boxes keep eggs out of view and deter raids.
  • Get a guard dog – A dog near the coop will scare away bold egg thieves.
  • Use predator decoys – Fake owls, hawks and snakes placed nearby can frighten egg eaters.
  • Try repellents – Reflective tape, falcon silhouettes and “egg sacks” deter problematic species like crows.

Being vigilant and making your nests inaccessible goes a long way toward preventing clever birds from robbing you of your eggs. Persistent thieves may need to be trapped and relocated far away to break the habit.

With some simple precautions, you can outsmart those egg-loving birds and keep your eggs safe!


Mice, Rats, and Other Rodents

Rodents like mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, and voles are common egg thieves that can sneak into chicken coops and make off with eggs for a tasty snack or meal (The Happy Chicken Coop). These sneaky creatures are able to find even the smallest openings and cracks to access a nesting box.

Once inside, they will eat the eggs immediately or carry them away to store and eat later.

Mice and rats are especially problematic as they are prolific breeders, producing several litters per year with 5-12 young per litter. Just a few rodents can turn into dozens in a short period of time.

Left unchecked, populations can soar into the hundreds on a homestead with free access to shelter and food. Both mice and rats have sharp teeth that make quick work of even the toughest eggshells.

Voles and chipmunks may also access coops and nests in search of eggs and chickens to prey upon. Though smaller, they can still do quite a bit of damage. Squirrels are brazen and will boldly enter coops in broad daylight to steal eggs.

Rodent Prevention

Preventing access by rodents requires securing the coop carefully and monitoring for any openings. Use 1⁄4 inch hardware cloth over any ventilation areas and seal doors with metal kick plates at the bottom. Caulk cracks and holes both inside and out with weatherproof sealant (Quikrete).

Traps and poisons may also be used judiciously inside the coop to control populations, but extreme care must be taken so chickens and eggs do not ingest the poisons either through eating contaminated vermin or via the eggs they lay.

Ultimately excluding the pests is more effective than trying to control them once they gain access.

In addition to securing the coop, eliminating hiding spots and food sources around the outside can help discourage rodents. Keep the area around the run clean, storing feed in galvanized steel cans with lids. Removing debris piles, woodpiles, and dense brush eliminates harborage sites.

A barn cat on patrol provides an additional layer of defense against mice and rats approaching the coop. The cat serves both as a predator and a deterrent.

With vigilance and proper rodent-proofing, the sneaky egg bandits can be stopped in their tracks and prevented from pilfering eggs meant for the family table.


Foxes Love Eggs

Foxes are notorious egg thieves that can wreak havoc on a chicken coop. As opportunistic predators, foxes will happily take advantage of an easy protein source like chicken eggs if given the chance. They use their excellent sense of smell to sniff out nesting boxes and will attempt to raid them day or night.

Once inside a henhouse, a fox may surplus kill, taking more eggs than it can eat. Sadly, up to 30-40 eggs per night can be destroyed this way. Not only is this frustrating for chicken keepers, but it can be psychologically stressful for the hens as well.

Experts suggest collecting eggs frequently to minimize temptation for foxes.

Foxes employ clever tricks to access nesting boxes, like digging and chewing through wooden coops. Some agile foxes will even climb over runs and enclosures to steal eggs. Their slim build allows them to squeeze through remarkably small spaces.

Tricky foxes are smart too, learning to open latches and disarm locks.

Fox Deterrents

Fortunately, there are many fox deterrents available to outwit these egg bandits. Solid hardware cloth or welded wire is recommended for coops and runs to prevent digging and chewing. Burying barriers 12-18 inches underground further fortifies an enclosure.

Electric poultry netting can deliver a safe but memorable shock to teach foxes not to return. Motion-activated lights, sounds, and sprinklers also help startle midnight egg hunters. Securely locking doors and nesting boxes is additionally key.

Removing brush piles, hiding spots near the coop, and keeping the area clean limits a fox’s stealth. Finally, the additions of guard animals like dogs, donkeys, or llamas can deter foxes through intimidation. With the right prevention methods, foxes don’t need to steal all the eggs!

Fox Deterrents Description
Hardware Cloth Sturdy woven wire fencing that prevents digging/chewing
Electric Poultry Netting Delivers a safe shock to deter foxes
Motion Lights/Sounds Startles foxes approaching the coop

For more information on protecting chickens from foxes, check out these helpful resources:

Dogs and Cats

Your Pets Could be the Culprits

Many people keep dogs and cats as pets. While they can be loving companions, they may also view chickens and their eggs as prey. Dogs have a strong hunting instinct and can easily kill chickens or steal their eggs. Cats are natural hunters as well and may stalk, pounce on, and carry away eggs.

Even if your pets are usually well-behaved, their instincts can kick in when they see an opportunity for a tasty treat.

Some tips to keep your pet dogs and cats from stealing eggs:

  • Supervise them when they are around the chickens.
  • Train them to leave the chickens and eggs alone through positive reinforcement.
  • Provide places for the chickens to nest that are inaccessible to pets.
  • Install barriers like fences or crates to keep pets separated from nesting areas.
  • Distract them with toys or treats when the chickens are out.

While it takes time and effort, you can teach most pets not to bother chickens or eggs with proper training. Supervision, separation, and distraction are key to protecting your flock.

Keeping Pets Away

If your dogs or cats persist in threatening your flock, more stringent measures may be needed. Here are some ways to effectively keep pets away from chicken coops and runs:

  • Use sturdy fencing or barriers around the coop. Bury part of the fence to prevent digging underneath.
  • Install motion-activated sprinklers near coops to startle prowling pets.
  • Use a pen or kennel to contain pets when you are not home to supervise.
  • Place nasty tasting repellents around the coop and nesting areas.
  • Attach predator guards over access doors that allow chickens through but deter pets.
  • Use crates or partitioned areas in the coop where chickens can nest safely.

As a last resort, you may need to rehome a pet that is relentless in pursuing chickens. Safety should come first. Roaming pets pose risks to free-range flocks as well. Securing your chickens while finding ways to contain and distract pets will help prevent stolen eggs and loss.


Losing eggs to predators can be frustrating, but there are ways to outsmart these wily egg thieves. With secure coops, electric fencing, and deterrents, you can protect your flock’s eggs and enjoy the fresh bounty. Vigilance and learning your enemy’s habits are key.

We hope this guide helps you crack down on whatever is sneaking off with your eggs.

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