Face to butt with a possum

KCNC06

Crowing
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
419
357
261
Central NC
When we go out in the evening I normally try to get home before dark or not too long after dark so I can get the chickens closed up in their house. We live pretty far out in the country, in the middle of many, many, many acres of woods. Despite all the warnings about predators we got prior to buying our chickens, we haven't seen many so far - it's been almost a year since we got our first birds. Though in the past month we saw a fox, and have seen possums in the trees a few times. None of them have ever bothered the chickens, the possums just seem to be interested in the chicken feed. We have a covered area beside the chicken coop inside the pen where we feed the chickens - with all the rain we had last fall and this winter it seemed to be the best way to keep the food dry. I also brought up several leftover Christmas trees from the tree lot at my work that I've set up around the covered area to make a wind block/tree house where the girls can hide out from the weather or hawks/eagles.

Anyway, back to trying to get home close to dark. Last night we were out a little later than I would have liked, around 10:45...well after dark. I immediately went out to the chicken pen. All the girls were in the house, sitting on their roosts, everything was completely normal. I said good night to them, closed their door and went around to the side of the house to hang their feeder. For the past month or so I've been hanging the feeder from a center rafter in the covered area so nothing can get into it at night. I picked up the feeder and turned to hang it up, and for some reason thought to shine my flashlight around in the "tree house" area. As I straightened up and turned, I found myself face to butt with the biggest dang possum I've ever seen up close. I was literally about 2 feet from this beast's butt! Scared the bajeebers out of me! There were two more smaller possums much higher up in the trees.

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This is probably about the 6th time we've found possums in the trees in the chicken pen. They've never bothered the birds. Even when we had our guineas and the guineas roosted on the roof of the coop at night, the possums never bothered anyone. My husband wanted to shoot this big possum last night, but I wouldn't let him. He was standing out in the pen with me pointing my 9mm at this big guy all ready to pull the trigger. I said no. First, it was after 11:00 by the time he got out there with me and I think it would have freaked the neighbors out a little if they heard us shooting that late at night. Second, I'm sure it would have freaked the chickens out more than the possum did (which would have been a lot since they weren't phased at all about the possum being there). Third, so far we've been really lucky and the possums haven't bothered the chickens at all. I know, I know! The key word there is "lucky". I am a little afraid that it's only a matter of time before the possums go after the chickens. But as long as I get home early enough to close them up before the possums come out, we shouldn't have a problem. I hate the idea of killing a creature that hasn't done anything wrong, but it seems like it would be a waste of time to attempt to trap them and move them somewhere else. We literally live in the middle of probably a few hundred acres of woods. We can't get rid of all the possible predators.

Is it possible to lure them to another area? Maybe put a compost pile somewhere farther away from the chicken pen? I would guess that possums aren't all that different than any other creature...who really wants to work for their food when they can get it prepared for them?
 

JP33

Songster
10 Years
Nov 14, 2009
564
0
129
Southeast, Louisiana
IMO trap them and relocate every one you catch. They have found your chickens and their feed and will keep coming back.

I have now heard from several people how possums have murdered their chickens. One young couple had 25 chickens that were killed off by possums.

They are cute and harmless until they kill. Act now, before they have killed your chooks.


...JP
 

KCNC06

Crowing
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
419
357
261
Central NC
Can they really be relocated though? They aren't like squirrels? I know with squirrels they basically have a certain number of squirrels per area, if you trap a squirrel and move it somewhere else, it really just squeezes another squirrel back into your yard. Not that I'd try to relocate squirrels. I just watched my grandfather fight that battle for years. I know I'd be heartbroken and beat myself up if on of these beasts ate my chickens, especially if I could have done something about it now. I'm guessing these are probably the same possums that we scared out of our attic shortly after we moved in here last year. The previous owner had been sick for about a year and died six months before we bought the house, so there was plenty of time for the possums to take over the attic. They had a lovely nest up there right over our bedroom.
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Ick!

I guess it's time to get a have-a-heart trap. So what do we do if we actually trap them? Just put the trap in the car and drive them a few miles up the road?
 

JP33

Songster
10 Years
Nov 14, 2009
564
0
129
Southeast, Louisiana
Quote:
That is what I would do. Your other choice is to kill them. I would choose to relocate them. No need in killing anything unnecessarily.

Place a towel or blanket over the cage once they are trapped inside to lessen their anger/anxiety.

Best of luck!


...JP
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 3, 2009
117,912
332,389
1,957
New Jersey
In most states relocation of wild animals is illegal, and it is really unfair to dump your problem on someone else.
 

jjthink

Crowing
13 Years
Jan 17, 2007
4,623
44
274
New Jersey
Unfortunately, if you are not closing up your birds till after dark, and at times well after, it will take a near miracle for there not to be a predator catastrophe at some point. Raccoons, fox, dogs......just for starters.
It's hard, I know, to keep on a chicken's schedule!!
JJ
 

plumberroy

In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 19, 2009
91
0
29
Quote:
You beat me too it!!! Why would you dump your problem on some one else
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and it can cost you a fine because it is illegal in most places .
Sooner or later they will get hungry for chicken, I have lost more chickens to possums than all other critters combined .
After losing 3 red pyle game bantams to a possum 20 years ago , I have declared JiHad on possum
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Roy
 

teach1rusl

Love My Chickens
10 Years
Jul 28, 2009
10,017
174
356
Floyds Knobs, Indiana
My Coop
My Coop
When I was younger possums would come out to our back shed and eat the cat food we kept out there. We had (too many) litters of kittens around back then, and the possums never bothered them. Personally, I would only shoot one as a last resort (an actual attack). You have many options: Cover your run, get an auto. door on a timer, cut back branches and such down lower so they don't have cover, put the food totally away (not just hang it out of reach, which actually was a GOOD idea), put up a motion sensor light (fairly cheap option there), get a good dog, live with them, because there's a very good chance that they would never go after your birds, or shoot them. I do agree with others who said it's not a good idea to relocate. It really is just passing the buck, unless you live in the middle of a national forest or something (and I'm not sure of the legality there). And possums are ALWAYS going to be around. So if you move one, another will take it's place...which is kind of why I feel like just leaving it is best. The one that takes it's place may not be as passive as the one(s) you have now.
 

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