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Do Possums Eat Chickens? How To Protect Your Flock

Luxifa Le

The short answer is that possums (sometimes called “opossums”) eat chickens and eggs. Possums will generally target the defenseless eggs over the full-grown chickens, but possums have been recorded killing chicks and full-grown chickens.

When a possum kills an adult chicken, the mess is similar to that left by a raccoon. They will kill the chicken with a bite to the neck then eat the crops and some chest meat. Sometimes, they’ll drink some of your chicken’s blood. Nonetheless, they will not carry the carcass away or eat the entire chicken. They’ll leave the body where it was killed.

Possums are not as crafty as raccoons. They can’t maneuver locks or doors the way that raccoons do. They can reach through wire fences and, in some cases, will pull out parts of your chickens if that’s all they can get their grubby little paws on.

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How to Protect Your Flock from Possums

chickens in coop
Image Credit: WFranz, Pixabay

Prospective chicken owners will need to take measures to protect their flock from possums and raccoons who will ravage the flock and eat your eggs. A hungry possum can wreak havoc on a flock if they get into the coop or run. Here are some ways you can help protect your flock from intruders.

Avoid Attracting Predators

If you have outdoor cats, avoid leaving any cat food outside for them at night. These foods are tasty snacks for neighborhood possums who might be looking for an easy meal. If you have bird feeders, ensure they’re secure and don’t contain any foods that might attract a nocturnal predator.

Ensure all garbage bins are closed tightly at night and clean up any fallen fruit from trees that might attract a hungry predator. Woodpiles and piles of debris are an excellent place for possums to hide, so clear them away if you can. During dry seasons, make sure there are no standing water sources that might attract a thirsty possum.

Minimizing the time that possums spend in and around your home will prevent them from setting their sights on your chicken coop and run.

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Make Sure Your Coop Is Securely Locked and Latched at Night

Chicken eating at night inside coop
Image Credit: thananya, Shutterstock

Possums generally can’t work locks and latches the way that raccoons can. Latching and locking your coop at night will prevent most nocturnal predators from getting in there and bothering your chickens.

Possums will be inclined to move right along and find a more accessible food source when they can’t immediately get past your latches. Secure locks can also help protect against other predators like foxes and raccoons.

Make Sure Any Wire Fences Are Secure and Stable

Possums will try to bend the wire, squeeze through the holes, or dig underneath the fence if they can. Chicken wire should not be your only barrier against predators; the chicken wire is designed to keep chickens in, not keep predators out.

Ideally, you want your wire fence to be a hardware cloth made of fine mesh. The holes should be no more than 1/2” large, but 1/4” is ideal. This will keep out raccoons, possums, foxes, and even rats.

When you put your fencing in, dig out a ditch and secure the fencing underground and above ground to prevent possums from digging underneath the fence and getting inside.

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Motion Sensor Lighting or Electric Fencing

electric fenced chicken
Image Credit: Pixabay

As night predators, possums generally don’t like the light, and being flashed with a giant spotlight when they move into an area is often enough to scare them away. For particularly tenacious possums, an electrified barrier around the inner barrier of your chicken coop and run will keep them at bay.

Ultrasonic deterrents also exist for keeping possums at bay, but the science is still out on their exact efficacy. These barriers emit a sound inaudible to humans but bothers pest animals and deter them from going near the area.

Trap and Relocate Possums

If you have a problem with a particular possum, you can trap the possum and relocate him away from your property. You should only do this if it’s legal in your area and ensure that you build the trap with enough strength to withstand the possum’s struggling and fighting when relocating him.

PetKeen does not recommend that untrained people attempt to relocate possums. Where possible, you should employ the assistance of a local wildlife foundation to protect you, your animals, and the possum.

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What Should I Do If I See a Possum?

Opossum
Image Credit: Jalynn, Pixabay

You don’t generally need to do anything if you see a possum near your chicken coop. If you’ve taken the proper precautions, it should pose no risk to you or your chickens and is likely just passing through on its journeys.

Possums will respond to threats by hissing and growling. They have a vicious bite and will bite if they feel threatened. So, try to shoo them off without getting close enough to be in bite distance.

Possums are unlikely to carry rabies because of their robust immune systems. Nonetheless, if you are bit by a possum, you should seek medical attention and rabies shots to nullify any chance of becoming rabid. Remember that rabies carries a 100% death rate if not treated before symptoms arise; by the time you’re symptomatic, your fate has been sealed.

When a possum feels particularly threatened, they will play dead, which is where we get the term “playing possum.” If a possum starts playing dead, it will collapse with its tongue hanging out of its mouth. It will even begin excreting a foul-smelling green substance so that it smells like a rotting corpse.

Again, if your coop and run are secure, you shouldn’t need to do anything to keep the possum away. If your property has been invaded already, it’s a good idea to call animal control to help relocate the possum to a more suitable home.

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Final Thoughts

Protecting your chickens is at the forefront of any farmer’s mind. They’re not just family; they’re also an essential part of your sustenance and business interests. With so many predators lurking in the wilderness, it’s no wonder that people are looking for the best ways to protect their flocks from the powers that be. We hope you’re able to find a solution that works well for your family and flock.


Featured Image Credit: royguisinger, Pixabay

Luxifa Le

I’m a freelance writer with a passion for animal science and technology. I love to share the world of animal science with people to help them make informed decisions for themselves and their pets. I’ve worked in professional pet care for over six years and realised I could help change the world of pet care by bringing the information people needed to them in terms they could understand. Knowledge is power and I love to help everyone become the most informed they can be.