A fox has died in extraordinary circumstances after losing the ultimate game of chicken during a night-time raid on a henhouse.
Students at Gros-Chene secondary school in Brittany were shocked to discover the dead body of the fox riddled with peck marks during their morning rounds last week.
The school maintains their brood of free-range chickens ganged up on the animal, attacking it in large numbers and overcoming it.
“There, in the corner, we found this dead fox,” Pascal Daniel, head of farming at the school, told news agency AFP. “There was a herd instinct and they attacked him with their beaks.”
The animal was reportedly surrounded, then killed in a corner of the building home to 3,000 chickens.
“It was a juvenile of five or six months, about 60cm long. He did not seem sick and in any case, he did not have scabies,” Mr Daniel said.
He suggested in recent months the hens had “learned” how to deal with such a scenario.
He said: “The hens can arrive en masse and the fox, surprised, could panic in front of the number.
“The hens have been there since July, so for more than seven months, and have probably learned to defend themselves.”
Apparently no chickens were found to have been injured during the incident.
It is thought the fox entered at dusk and then become trapped inside by light-controlled automatic doors that close when the sun goes down.
Regional paper France Oest quoted a wildlife expert from Brittany who said they were “surprised” by the turn of events.
They said: “There may be a group effect, but also other reasons – the fox was young so inexperienced. It could already be weakened, even injured, and we know that chickens will confront a weak animal with no vigour.”