The predators’ existence next to chickens is a significant concern for chicken keepers. Do possums eat chickens?
Can you notice their presence on your homestead? How can you protect your flock?
This article has all the answers to your questions and everything you need to know about possums. Read on!
Possums, also known as opossums, are predators about the size of large cats and eat many things–animals and plants.
They’re also the biggest threat to tiny chicks when they get an opportunity.
Their body is covered with grey-black fur. Also, they have pink noses and long snouts.
You can spot them from a distance due to their white faces and long, hairless tails.
The long tails help them climb and hang onto things easily.
Possums live in dens, and mostly, they eat whatever they find– insects, road kill, small rodents, dead things, fruits, and berries because they are lazy predators.
Their favorite prey are ticks. Besides, they eat bugs such as cockroaches, small snakes, and mammals such as voles.
This is why some people prefer keeping them around their homestead to control small animal populations.
Further, they’re considered good cleaners because they love eating leftovers.
Do Possums Eat Chicken?
The answer is simple, yes. Possums eat anything they can; therefore, if they get a chance to get hold of the smaller chickens, they’ll eat them.
They do not attack adult roosters or hens unless they’re starving; instead, they go for the eggs, chicks, and bantams.
It is also essential to note that they attack chickens during the winter when food is scarce.
How To Know If A Possum Ate Your Chicken
Below are the signs to check if Possum ate your chicken.
- Footprints: The shape of the footprints will tell if it was the Possum that ate your chicken or not. Mostly, you’ll see more of the handprint than a footprint, and it will be of about a 2-inch diameter.
- Eggs: Possums tend to eat the eggs and leave the shells. Seeing empty shells on the ground is a sign that it was the Possums that ate your chickens.
- Poops: Seeing a poop that looks like a dog poop is a giveaway.
- Trash Bins: Possums will always ransack all over, including the trash bins and feed sacks.
- Also, there might be chicken remains and feathers all over the area.
Now that Opossums do not live everywhere, there are high chances that an intruder is someone else.
If you have many chickens in your flock, it might be difficult to notice whether it was a Possum or any other predator that ate your flock.
Most times, you must be ready to protect your flock from any kind of predator.
What Signs Show Possums Are In Your Area?
Since mystery intruders may be many– foxes, skunks, raccoons, dogs, and cats, it might be challenging to say it is a Possum that invades the area conclusively.
However, few signs will show you the kind of hunter near your homestead. Mainly, the most typical signs are footprints and scats.
Where Are Possums Commonly Found?
Opossums live in forest habitats. They eat almost everything they can get hold of and thrive in many places. They are found in Central, South, and North America.
Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas. Tennessee and Delaware are the states where you can find the Opossums.
Also, you can find the Opossums throughout Canada and Mexico.
Initially, they lived in woodlands and rural areas. Lately, they have adapted to urban life as long as they can dig a barrow for protection.
It is because urban centers have massive collection points of the garbage and trash– where they can easily find carrion.
Ways of Protecting Your Chicken From Possums
Below are the steps to take when keeping your flock safe from predators.
Taking Advantage Of The Security Precautions
Possums attack chickens at night. Keeping your flock safe during the night will be essential.
Use a safety lock on your coop door. Fencing around your coop is a good idea too.
Even the Possums are nocturnal; they might attack your flock during the day.
Always be a watchdog when you let the flock free range on your homestead.
Using Lights and Music
Playing quiet music and hanging motion-sensor lights can scare away the Possums at night.
Don’t Attract Possums.
Leaving open trash bins outside can attract Possums. Besides, some foods, such as bird feeders and cat food, can also enchant the predators.
Always avoid leaving such food outside your coop at night.
Keep Dogs and Cats
Besides keeping the cats and dogs as pets, they can play a protective role, ensuring the flocks’ safety at night.
They prefer staying inside at night, but you can train them to guard your homestead against predators.
Possums are lazy hunters and will run away from dogs and cats whenever they feel they’re around.
Some Possums may be annoying and not ready to leave your locality.
Taking the initiative to catch them using a live trap and moving them is another good idea if the law allows it in your area.
Simple! If you have no information on where to move the Possums, liaise with the wildlife reveal company for prompt assistance.
What To Do If You Spot A Possum Near Your Coop
First, seeing Possums near your coop shouldn’t make you panic. They’re much more afraid of you.
When they realize you’re approaching them, they will run away when they see you near your flock. Seeing you near your flock will help them stay far away.
Furthermore, avoid screaming as it might cause a survival reaction, for instance, playing dead. In short, don’t do anything overly scary, and don’t panic.
The best two choices are;
- Let the Possums stay and distract them with food.
- Catch and relocate them– moving is easy.
Some poultry keepers who also keep cows prefer having Possums around. They consider them harmless and very useful in controlling tick populations.
However, they ensure they’re not entering the coop.
Possums also discourage snakes, rats, and mice in a homestead. The best approach to not letting them attack your flock is to give them food. A Possum with a full belly is unlikely to shoot anything.
Second, You can decide to remove the Possums near your coop; prodding using a long pole to move them away is the best option.
It’s a defense mechanism where the Possums brush their teeth as they start to drool. Even if you leave them alone, they might move away because they cannot stay in a place they perceive danger.
The Possums may also fall over and play dead. You can now use a shovel to take Possums out of the area. Remember never to provoke a Possum– it might bite you since it’s a wild animal.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re super thrilled to know whether Possums eat chickens or not, here are some of the commonly asked questions that can help you clear up your thoughts.
What Are The Most Common Chicken Predators?
Most chicken predators are nocturnal; they’re active at night when people are not in their vicinity.
They include raccoons, cats, skunks, dogs, foxes, birds of prey, and coyotes.
Remember to practice the safety precautions to keep all these predators out of reach.
Most importantly, use the standard precautions, use quiet music and moving lights, and avoid attracting predators.
However, you can train a dog that was once a predator to guard your flock and scare away other predators. By so doing, you can make a perfect pet.
Do possums Eat Chicken Feed?
Yes, besides Possums eating tiny chicks and eggs, they also eat chicken feed because they are very nutritious.
Remember to also clean the leftovers after feeding your flock because they can attract the Possums.
Are The Possums Dangerous to Humans?
Generally, Possums fear people and are harmless to humans. However, when you corner them, they might bite you but not pursue you.
They will only wander in your homestead looking for food if you leave them.
Also, if you feed them, they will not attack your flock. A full belly Possums are unlikely to eat chickens nor harm any human.
Do The Possums Hunt at Night?
Yes, the Possums are nocturnal, more active at night, and will hunt their prey whenever they have an opportunity.
For that reason, before you go to sleep, ensure your coop is well locked– preventing access by the Possums.
Possums eat chickens. If you control them well, they’ll be harmless to your flock.
We recommend having Possums around your homestead because of their good attributes, keeping in mind that they’re predators.
You should know how to take care of and secure your flock. Possums can help you clean the leftovers.
In summary, ensure your coop is predator-proof and very tight. Despite Possums having excellent attributes, Possums can eat all your chicken if you’re not very cautious.
Practicing preventive measures is crucial to ensure none of your flock becomes a predator’s meal.