I feel horrible!!! Was it right? Was it wrong? IS there a right answer?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by canesisters, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. canesisters

    canesisters Songster

    Aug 18, 2011
    Yesterday afternoon I saw a possum crossing the yard. It was average size and looked as healthy as any of them ever do. It came across the driveway, under the fence, toward the house and disappeared behind the porch. By the time I got outside I couldn't tell if it had gone under the porch (solid on 3 sides and DARK) or crossed the front yard and gone into the woods. It was raining and getting dark so I let the issue drop and went back inside.

    I don't have kids (the reason many give for reacting to wild creatures). I DO have 3 dogs who live all day inside the yard. I have also gotten chickens this summer - so still 'new' chicken owner figuring out all the chicken stuff. And I have a barn cat who is getting older and not as spry as he used to be.

    Tonight when I came home the dogs were barking frantically at the rose bush. Nothing at all like their usual "HI! You're home!" bark but something wild and completely not normal for them. I went over and found a possum (same size - guessing the same one) laying just inside the fence. I guessed that he was 'playing possum' because of the dog's frantic reaction.

    I puzzled for just a moment... Assume it IS dead and scoop it into a feed bag to get rid of later? What if it isn't really dead? What if it 'comes around' and attacks me? Scoop it into a cage?? And do what with it?? Assume it's not really dead, get the dogs inside and let it go?? And when it comes back tomorrow? Or the next day?? It is laying INSIDE the yard - if it wasn't for the fact that it's almost right on the radio fence, the dogs would've already gotten it. If it wasn't really dead, would I be facing injured dogs too?? And what about when it discovers the coop?

    I decided that I only had a short time before it stopped playing dead so (not having a gun) I went to get a shovel. As it laid there playing dead - I drew back and smacked it in the head with everything I had. It jumped and twitched and went still. I scooped it into a feed bag and left it in the barn to dispose of tomorrow.

    But I feel terrible! It was just laying there. I can not say if it had been injured prior to me killing it... I can not say if it would've ever been a problem - or would have even come back after being harassed by the dogs....

    What would you have done? Geez, this is horrible.

  2. everyone has to deal with animals this way sometimes. don't feel horrible about it, your dogs would have killed it in a much less humane manner[​IMG]
  3. Leslieb118

    Leslieb118 Songster

    Nov 8, 2011
    Well, possums are icky critters in my book. I've had a few around here over the years and my dogs would bark at them and the possum would growl back, really snarling back. I've never seen one play dead, though. I didn't have chickens back then, but if it were to happen to me now and they were posing a potential problem with the flock, I'd get rid of it. I probably couldn't do it myself, but my 18 year old son loves to hunt and it would've been a good task for him.

    Don't let it get to you. I know that's probably easier said than done, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I did have a raccoon climbing up the run one night. Luckily the chickens were all locked in the coop. My son saw it and was going to take care of it, but by the time he went back out, it was gone.

    When my German Shepherd confronted a possum one night all they did was bark (the dog) and snarl (the possum) at each other. I went outside to see what was going on and it snarled at me and ran away. I don't think they'd really "attack" dogs or people, but I'm sure they're probably disease ridden and you wouldn't want them around anyway. You did the right thing, in my opinion!
  4. canesisters

    canesisters Songster

    Aug 18, 2011
    Thank you for you kind words of support.
    Part of me knows that it was the right thing to do.
    Part of me is in tears for killing something that (at the moment) posed no immediate threat.

    I hope that I never have to deal with this again.
    (wishful thinking just might help me sleep...)
  5. mkr

    mkr In the Brooder

    Apr 29, 2011
    Oppossums are nocturnal. A possum out in the afternoon is pretty unusual in my experience. I don't think they carry rabies as commonly as some other critters, but being out in the open during the day could indicate it was rabid or otherwise sick. I think you made the right call.

  6. FlaRocky

    FlaRocky Songster

    Yes, you did right. They are carriers of Lepto, that is very contagious. In horses it can lead to blindness. Dogs can get Lepto. Also they will attack your chickens for eggs and will reach in and pull the heads off of them. In my opinion the only good opossum is a dead one. I had a mare go blind from Lepto and she was pregnant and had to raise the foal blind.


    Ride the Glide.....Got Gait.....I Do.....
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
  7. leadwolf1

    leadwolf1 Songster

    May 1, 2011
    I would have done the same...or, should I say my DH would have [​IMG]

    One thing about possums, they are never infected with rabies. They are marsupials and as such, rabies won't touch them.
  8. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer Premium Member

    May 11, 2010
    I had to kill a baby raccoon that for some reason spent an entire morning screaming. I didn' t know what was screaming out in the woods, so I got the .22 rifle, loaded it, and went searching with the safety on. A few minutes later I found a distressed baby raccoon trying to climb a tree. My maternal instinct sprang from out of nowhere, and for a moment, I was tempted to take it in. Then the protective instinct crept into place, and I did what needed to be done. It didn't suffer is all I can say. I felt regret and shame for taking a life in such a manner. But I know I will do so again in order to protect my flock. I know I will feel regret, and hope I will always feel regret, because when I no longer feel anguish at taking a life, I will be a heartless human being.

    You gotta do what you gotta do.
  9. janinepeters

    janinepeters Songster

    Jun 9, 2009
    I make sure my coop and enclosures exclude predators, so they cannot get my chickens and I don't have to worry; I can enjoy both chickens and predators. For me this would have been an opportunity to observe and learn. I would have taken the dogs in, taken some nice photos of the opossum, and then watched for it to wake up.
    1 person likes this.

  10. bigoledude

    bigoledude Songster

    Jan 16, 2011
    SE, Louisiana
    The aftermath of what possums do to chickens would have you feeling much worse, I promise. When they enter your yard, kill them.

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