Chickens provide a cheap meal for predators that prey on these birds for food. Leaving the coop door open at night exposes your chickens to many critters who sometimes are friends. So, do possums eat chickens?
Sometimes back I found dead chickens inside the coop and there were signs of confrontations possibly from the birds and the enemy.
On the fence I could see the wire mesh had been widened and there were footprints of an animal I thought it was a possum.
What is a possum?
A possum also referred by some as an opossum is a small marsupial animal the same size as the domestic cat. It is endemic to some parts of North America, South America and Australia.
They prefer living in areas around forests and bushes where they take habitat in tree burrows. These animals are mammals where they give birth and breast feed.
Possums are nocturnal omnivores meaning they operate under the cover of darkness. They prefer living near humans where they rely on insects attracted by light at night, domestic waste, compost piles and grubs.
These omnivores will pay a surprise visit in the coops at night and steal eggs, bantam chickens and baby chicks. Some have been known to tackle and kill full grown chicken.
Can possums kill chickens?
YES! Possums can kill chickens for food. These predators are not very big and thus prefer small chicken like bantams and chicks. They also explore the nesting boxes where they steal eggs and eat them up.
Mostly, they will only get the opportunity to get inside the chicken coop if the door is not properly latched or was left open.
These predators will also take advantage of notorious chickens who prefer to sneak and spend the night out among the bushes.
Chicks and bantams are easily snatched because they are not big enough to scare them away. They are also not strong enough to resist these predators.
How do possums kill chickens?
Possums will kill chickens by biting on the neck while holding the bird with its paws. These predators have 50 sharp teeth that tear through the flesh with much ease.
After the powerful bite, the possum will first drink the chicken blood before proceeding with the crop, breast and internal organs like the chicken gizzard.
Possums do not eat live chickens because the birds will make noise and alarm the owner or the dogs. Some possums will eat chicken heads but they will also eat other parts to their fill.
After making the kill, some female possums may decide to drag the kill to feed its litter. What is left behind are some feathers that may have been plucked as the bird fought for is life and disturbed beddings and the predators foot marks.
How can I keep possums out?
When possums eat chickens, they get used to free opportunities and strike more often. The best way is develop new techniques to keep your flock safe. So, how?
Install live wire fencing
Live wires are a good way to lock possums out. This kind of fence uses electric current to electrocute and this way no animal can get through.
However, with this kind of fencing caution should be taken with little children not to get close. The best way is switching it on at night when kids are asleep.
Have dogs in your compound
Dogs are the best animals that can scare away most predators and thieves who may try to steal your chickens.
Possums will never dare get in a compound with dogs because they will get killed. If possums happen to frighten chickens at night, the dogs will quickly respond and deal with them.
Lock the chicken coops properly
Because possums like to operate at night, before going to sleep always check whether the coop door is well locked.
Latch the doors will and do a head count on your flock just to make sure they are all there. Using automatic coop doors can also help keep the chickens safe from predation.
At least have a rooster
Roosters are known to be very protective and can even face small predators that they can easily intimidate. Having roosters of some chicken breeds like Hamburg’s, Orpington chicken and Brahma is a good idea.
These male chickens will also make a loud noise sounding an alarm that will wake you up or tell the dogs there is a problem.
Hang motion triggered lights
Motion triggered lights are another way to scare possums away. The lights will suddenly go on when any predator gets close to their proximity at night.
This will frighten the possums to near death.
Use a radio
Although a radio may be noisy for chickens at night, it may confuse possums who may think there is someone guarding chickens.
What to do when you encounter a possum
If you suddenly find a possum, do not kill it. Call the local authority or the nearby zoo who will pick it and relocate it somewhere safe away from you.
Do not chase the poor animal with your dogs because they may kill it. Remember these animals play a vital role in the ecosystem by taming the populations of some insect pests.
This poor critter has a life of its own just as you have yours. Perhaps she has babies and it is hunger that has brought her to your chicken coop. Let her go.
Possums eat chickens by going through chicken wire and stealing the eggs too. These predators are not only harmful but in some ways they are helpful.
They will eat insects, snails and ticks. In a day, an adult possum can devour on 5000 ticks for its stomach to be full. This way, they help eliminate such harmful organisms to us, our animals and crop pests. So in one way possums are good to have around and in the other they are not.
Killing chickens for food is part of their life. This is what the Mother Nature has provided for these predators because they have to eat and raise their young.
So, do possums eat chickens? Yes they do
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