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Possum - Chicken Predators - How To Protect Your Chickens From Possums

 

Possum

 

General Information & Description 

 

The possum is North America's only marsupial mammal. (The female has a marsupium in which she carries and nurses her young until they are 2-3 months old.) Mature possums are roughly the same size as a cat, has grey to black fur, black eyes, pink noses, feet and tails, black ears and pointed noses. Possums are usually slow moving, nocturnal animals. Gentle and placid animals who prefer a quiet solitary life, they may growl, hiss and bare their teeth when threatened and will sometimes, when frightened and unable to flee, fall into a shock-like state, known as "playing possum". 

 

possum.jpg

Range

 

Though indigenous to Australia, Sulawesi and New Guinea, possums are also found in eastern, central and west coast states of North America, as well as some parts of Canada. They are absent from the Rockies, most western plains states and parts of the northern US.

 

Methods of Kill

 

Possums as Chicken Killers can be a problem for flock owners as they prefer hunting at night and may never be seen during the day. Hens often do not survive a possum attack. The possum's razor sharp claws have been known to lacerate their necks and bowels—leaving them to bleed to death. When possums gain access to chicken coops, they will eat the chickens and the eggs and they also like attacking and eating chicks. 

 

Prevention & Treatment

 

Possums are attracted by pet food, windfalls from fruit trees, rubbish bins, bird feeders and chicken coops. Make your property unattractive by keeping rubbish bins shut and secure, taking pet food bowls in at night and regularly pick up windfalls under fruit trees. Possums are very easily deterred by light and noise. Christmas lights have proven to be particularly effective in keeping them away. During the day, leaving a radio playing near the chicken run will also help deter them. Another very effective way of keeping them away from your chicken is by placing empty tins with ammonia soaked rags inside round the perimeter of your coop and run. Punch holes in the tins and keep the tops sealed. Possums are very good climbers, but can be prevented from climbing over wire mesh fences by installing a tightly stretched electric fence wire near the top of the fence 3 inches out from the mesh. Humane, live traps would hep if you have an existing possum problem. If you caught a possum in your trap, contact your local game warden or animal control office for assistance. Please note it is illegal in many states to relocate possums. 

 

For more information on possums and how to deter them see the Predators and Pests section of the forum.

 

Comments (3)

This is the most misunderstood animal of all time and yes they will kill your chickens and eat the eggs but they are following their instincts. Examine the flaws of your coop and fix the problem and the opossums will go away ~ they may hiss at you when caught but they are a very peaceful animal. Calling a game warden will most likely end in death and that is so unnecessary.  
I concur!  However.  I am wondering...after much research and of course I may be mistaken...  Has anyone seen a possum kill a chicken...perchance with a game cam?
 
I know people find the tell tale eating pattern, however, possums are generally not "attackers" of larger live prey.
 
They are, however, known to eat carrion.  I wonder...  
 
If a fox or coon or weasel has been through, and done the killing...an opposum comes behind and does the eating....they get the rap.
 
From everything I have read, they are all about an easy meal, if chickens are locked up properly there should not be an issue with this, "predator".
 
Thoughts?
I live in Virginia in a valley near the river where there are many animals. My neighbors failed to close the door to their coop one night. They heard a terrible noise, went out, found a possum curled up with the hens. Their rooster was fighting to protect the hens and in return the possum bite his backend several times and he lost his tail feathers. They killed the possum. Recently another woke them trying to get in the coop.
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