Hi all, This is my first post and I'm sorry it's not a more positive one! We recently got four hens--a lakenvelder, dominique, faverolle, and bantam (I don't know what she is, but she's cute, brown, and tiny!) and experienced our first lethal predator attack last night (an opossum). I haven't kept chickens since I was a kid, so am new to all of this. The chickens are around two months old and haven't started laying yet. Our chickens are in a wooden coop with a small run (something we got on Ebay) that sits on a wooden house door that is propped up on concrete blocks (good for cleaning and gives the hens a place to hide from the four kids who own them). The coop is housed inside a large, chain link dog run with six foot walls that is covered. We live in southern California where the dirt is really packed and full of large rocks, so it's hard to burrow under. We also put large rocks all around the dog pen (only two sides are exposed since it's set against a tall concrete block wall). I noticed that the lakenvelder wasn't feeling well yesterday afternoon. She wouldn't come out of the dog run, was dragging her wing, and was really lethargic. The other hens weren't bothering her, so I thought I'd check her out this morning. She was my least favorite and hard to catch, so I feel guilty that she was the one attacked! At first I thought she was ill, but now I think she may have already been attacked since we were away for the weekend. The hens are always locked up in the dog run when we're away, but I don't shut them inside the wooden coop. Around midnight I heard the hens making loud noises (they still peep, but it was a frantic kind of peeping). Luckily, their pen is right outside my window. When I opened the pen, the three surviving hens ran out and I saw that the opossum was in the wooden coop. I also figured that the lakenvelder was already dead because I didn't see or hear her. I caught the three hens, put them in a dog carrier, and kept them in the kitchen (make sure your flashlight has good batteries--I had to wake up my daughter and ask her to hold the flashlight and it was really dim. Hard to find chickens like that at night!). The opossum wouldn't move, so I just kept the pen door open, disposed of the dead chicken this morning, and cleaned the coop and pen out with bleach and water. I understand from reading previous posts that the opossum will probably come back (if it hasn't already paid the pen a visit) and if I had been more awake last night I might have tried to kill it with a shovel or pitchfork. I'm going to ask the city today if they have live traps we could use. In the meantime, I have a question for all of you: how can I better secure the pen? I think the critter got in by squeezing through the door. There are gaps on both sides and the door swings open into the pen. The door was shut when I went out, but this is the only way I can think it got in. Maybe through gaps in the tarp roof, although that is also pretty secure. I think I can use some hardware cloth to secure one side of the gaps in the door, but the latch side is a puzzle. Any suggestions? I'd be up for putting something on the door each night to close it up, but it would have to be something I could put up and take off without much hassle. In the meantime, I'll shut the hens up in the wooden pen at night so they are safer. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me and apologies for the length of this post!