Yes. Possums can kill and eat chickens, especially young chicks, bantams, or sick adult chickens. This is aside from their normal easy meals such as bugs, small rodents, road kills, and biowaste from the trash.
Opossums are nocturnal animals; they hunt at night. Also, their small body size and great climbing skills make it hard for most farmers to control. However, this article focuses on how you can manage this small creature and the best way to protect your birds.
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Do Opossums Kill And Eat Chickens?
Yes, opossums do kill and eat chickens. However, although opossums are scavengers always looking for easy meals, they’re opportunistic animals. Opossums are omnivores and won’t spare the chicken feed and the chicken once they access a nesting box.
An adult opossum is the same size as a house cat and a good climber due to its strong hind feet. These features make it easy for an opossum to sneak into a chicken coop and attack the birds. Moreover, if the latches are secure, opossums can still do damage to chickens they can reach by their small claws through the mesh wire.
Can opossums attack humans? The 50 razor-sharp teeth combined with a terrible hissing sound can be intimidating. However, opossums are docile. They don’t usually attack humans. Instead, they’ll either flee or play dead.
Nonetheless, it’s best you keep your distance; a threatened opossum can be dangerous. If pushed to the edge, the marsupial can bite and scratch. Opossums are also known to infect tularaemia. Therefore, it’s best to handle the opossum with care or call animal control if you find one in the chicken coop.
Do Opossums Eat The Whole Chicken?
There will be leftovers. Opossums are small animals and can’t eat a whole chicken. However, there’s little left if an opossum finds baby chicks or bantams.
Opossums mainly eat the chicken’s chest area, the crop, and thighs and leave the rest of the chicken. Opossum attacks are unique and easy to distinguish. They kill by biting the chicken on the neck and sucking the blood.
However, opossums are lazy hunters, unlike coyotes. Therefore, it’s not common for an opossum to attack an adult chicken. Unless there’s little food, they prefer eating small rodents, bugs, and road kill.
How To Know If An Opossum Ate Your Chicken?
Opossums are nocturnal, meaning they predominantly hunt at night when most active. Therefore, catching the culprit in the act can be difficult during the day. In addition, their grayish-black fur makes it hard for the chickens to notice an intruding opossum sneaking into the chicken coop.
However, there are still ways of knowing whether an opossum is living in your chicken coop. The clues are easy to identify;
- Count your chicks. See whether any chicken is missing.
- Never ignore a distress alarm from your chicken coop; it might be a predator.
- If any bird is wounded, inspect the bite marks. Are they located around the neck, the breast, or the thighs? These are the common area an opossum aims at in chickens.
- Inspect the carcass. If it’s an opossum, the carcass will be missing the crop and parts around the breast area and leave the rest. The mess is similar to that of a raccoon.
- Mark the feeders, and see if the chicken feed is eaten overnight. Remember, opossums are omnivores.
- Are there missing eggs or evidence of broken eggshells in the nesting boxes? Then its possible that an opossum has access to the coop. Although you need to remember your chickens, too, can eat the eggs, especially if they lack calcium.
- Weigh the droppings. Opossum feces are rounded, larger than rat’s dropping but smaller than dog’s droppings. Therefore, looking at the droppings, it’s easy to know whether an opossum is living in your chicken coop.
How Do Opossums Kill Chickens?
An opossum kills by biting the chicken at the neck to suck the blood first. Then, once the chicken is dead, it proceeds to eat the crop and the breast. Opossums have fifty razor-sharp teeth that can easily cut through chicken bone.
However, opossums are lazy hunters. They prefer easy meals. Therefore, they rarely force through secure latches; plus, they’re not as crafty as animals like raccoons. Therefore, opossums are not much of a threat compared to other chicken predators, for example, coyotes.
How To Stop Opossums From Attacking Your Chickens
Opossums have strong hind feet that make them excellent climbers, so a higher fence may do little to keep the chicken predator away. Also, their small bodies can fit through small openings in the chicken wire.
Therefore, to stop opossums from attacking, you need advanced options. What’s better, some of these options are applicable in keeping most chicken predators.
So, here are five ways to protect your chickens from opossum attacks:
Consider An Electric Fence
An electric fence netting, about one meter high, around the hen house will keep your birds safe from possums and other predators. However, this is not a Do-It-Yourself job. You need an expert to set the fence for you and install the safety measures. A 5,000 volt shock on your skin is not pleasant at all.
Moreover, having an electric chicken netting is advantageous in two ways;
- It keeps away the predators.
- It also keeps the chicken within their free-range area. It helps prevent backyard chickens from straying into unwanted areas, such as the garden.
Look For A Security Dog
Having a security dog in the compound at night will give opossums enough reasons not to come near the chickens. Preferably, have the kennel near the coop area, so the dog can easily guard the coop.
Consider Live Traps
Installing live traps around the susceptible area near the chicken coop is a good way of keeping your chickens safe. Plus, you get to catch the opossums alive by using a live trap. Then, animal control will take care of the animal and move it to a secure place.
Install Security Light Sensors
Opossums, like most night predators, are scared of sudden lights. Therefore, purchasing a light security sensor will help scare away the Opossums when they intrude on the chicken coop.
Turn The Radio On
It’s a cunning way of keeping opossums at bay, and amazingly, it works. Leave your radio turned on overnight in the chicken coop. However, keep the volume moderate so as to not disturb the sleeping hens.
Summary: Do Opossums Kill And Eat Chickens
Opossums are small and great climbers. Easy to sneak through small openings into the chicken coop and do damage. They mostly eat the crop and breast area of the chicken and leave the rest.
Do opossums eat chicken? Yes. However, they’re easy to control. An electric fence or a light security sensor around the chicken coop is enough to keep the deadly marsupials away. Alternatively, leaving the radio overnight in the coop will do the trick if the two first methods are expensive.