Owning chickens has many benefits, but keeping them safe can sometimes be a struggle, as there are a whole host of predators who would love to find their way into your chicken’s coop in the depths of the night to treat themselves to your chickens and their eggs.
So, when it comes to owning chickens, you want to make sure that you’re aware of all of the predators that could potentially harm them in order for you to be able to take the necessary precautions to protect your poultry against these predators.
One animal many people question is Opossums (Also check out How To Attract Opossums), many people are unsure of whether or not Opossums will kill Chickens.
So, if you’re wondering whether or not an Opossum is a threat to your chicken, keep reading on through our guide!
What Are Opossums?
Originally coming from South America, Opossums found their way into North America during the early 1900s, and they used to be farmed due to their dual-colored pelt and its meat.
The typical habitat for an Opossum would be woodland and fields, however, since their arrival in North America, they have had to learn to develop and adapt in the harshness of their new more urban environments.
They are also the only marsupial found in North America, and the females carry their young in pouches like many other marsupials.
Opossums are also nocturnal animals, which is why so many people consider them a nuisance, as they will often find their way into your backyard during the night when you are asleep.
They will tend to begin their search for food at the start of nightfall and will then be awake for nine or so hours before they return to their homes at the start of dawn.
They can easily navigate their way through the dark thanks to their fantastic eyesight, which is known to be twice as sharp as the human’s eye, so for them finding their way through the dark is super easy.
What Do Opossums Eat?
Because they’ve had to adapt to new environments to ensure their survival, Opossums have adapted to become rather opportunistic predators, so really they’ll eat just about anything, including things such as frogs, rodents, insects, fish, and even reptiles.
These animals have become proficient at surviving on bio waste found in trash cans and compost piles too.
Vegetable gardens and orchards are an Opossum’s best friend, and they will happily make their way through your vegetable garden in order to feed themselves, but what about your chickens?
Will Opossums Eat Chickens?
Unfortunately, you can add chickens to the long list of things that Opossums will happily consider a meal during the darkness of the night.
Don’t get fooled by their frightening appearance, because behind their scaly tail, bead-like eyes, and mouth full of super sharp teeth,
Opossums are actually non-confrontational predators, and when it comes to attacking your chickens, they’re much more likely to make a meal out of young chicks, hens that are nesting, and the eggs as opposed to a chicken that will fight back.
Signs Of An Opossum Attack
There are any number of predators that could have possibly made their way into your chicken’s coop and killed them, and unfortunately Opossums won’t hang around long enough into the morning for you to catch them in the act, so trying to uncover whether it was an Opossum or another predator can at first be difficult to decipher, but there are some telltale signs that an Opossum was at fault.
Discarded eggshells are always a sign of a possible Opossum visit, since they’re easy pickings for the Opossum, so they’ll probably go for the eggs first.
Dead or missing chicks may or may not be the fault of an Opossum, but a chick that has had either its underbelly or its chest opened and has been eaten from the inside messily usually indicates an Opossum.
How Do Opossums Get In?
Opossums are incredibly sneaky animals, (see also: Animals That Are Sneaky)whether it’s an open garage door, an outdoor trash bin, or animal food left outside, these are all things that can lead to a visit from an Opossum.
Unfortunately, Opossums are amazing climbers as they have opposable thumbs, so there’s really no fence too tall or big for an Opossum to make their way over.
As we mentioned, no fence is going to pose much of a problem for an Opossum, which means that in order to protect your chickens against these animals, you’re going to have to take a few other precautions to keep them safe.
The best way to protect your chickens is to affix a permanent roof cover on to your chickens’ coop, but try to avoid using any chicken wire as some predators can tear through this easily.
Covering your chickens also protects them from aerial predators as well as the ones on the ground.
You could also set up traps using fruit and other scraps in order to catch the opossums, or a motion detector that informs you when an Opossum has been detected.
Catching An Opossum
You should be very careful when it comes to catching and confronting an Opossum,as they can be rather aggressive when confronted, but they might also decide to play dead, in an attempt to get you to leave them alone.
But be warned, as an Opossum playing dead does not mean it is safe to handle to remove. So if you do catch one, you should contact your local animal removal service for them to handle it instead.
To summarize, Opossums can be one of the predators responsible for breaking your way into your chicken’s coop and helping themselves to eggs and defenseless chickens, so it’s important that you provide your chickens with the adequate protection to ensure that they are safe from Opossums, and other potential predators out there.