Possums or opossums are nocturnal, so it is not often that people witness their behavior. If we happen to see them, they are likely viewed roaming near the road, rummaging through trash cans, or passing through the yard. Most people likely do not think of possums as nasty predators that will go so far as to eat another animals.
In this article we will answer the specific question, “Do possums eat chickens?”. This is an important question to answer for not only the professional farmer (who likely already knows the answer), but also for the many people who love to raise chickens in their backyard and wish to protect them at all costs from predators.
Possums Eat Chickens?
Possums are omnivores, which means they eat both animals and plants similar to most humans. However, when we think of opossums eating animals, most of use likely picture a small rodent, a frog, or maybe a larger animal that is an easy meal as road kill. Many readers probably picture the chicken being too large for an possum to kill. But, are possums really a concern for killing and eating your chickens?
The answer is yes. Two of the favorite foods of possums are eggs and birds. The backyard chicken coop often provides a readily available supply of these two food sources for possums. As Becky’s Homestead explains in the below video, opossums won’t kill and eat the full chicken. That is behavior is reserved for much larger predators.
Possums will commonly kill at the neck and eat only a portion of the chicken around this area. Since grown chickens are relatively the same size as possums, the biggest concern is with the younger chickens and eggs. These are easier prey and less of a potential threat to an possum. However, this does not dismiss the possibility of a larger chicken getting killed.
Chickens falling prey to possums is quite frustrating and often a sad experience from some. However, it is a reality that people who raise farm or backyard chickens often must deal with if their chickens are not adequately protected. Fortunately, there are a few ways to safeguard your chicken coop to greatly reduce the odds of a possum attack.
How to Protect a Chicken Coop from Predators?
Here are few tips to protect your backyard chicken coop from not only possums, but other predators that may be lingering nearby looking for an opportunity to attack:
- Farm Dog – As Becky indicated in the above video, a dog that is devoted to roaming the farm or backyard can go a long way in frightening off opossums and other predators. Of course, you must be certain that the dog will be friendly to your chickens and their eggs.
- Build a Deep Fence – A fence that extends down beyond the soil surface will help deter animals from digging under the fence to gain access to the chickens.
- Motion-Sensing Lighting – Possums are nocturnal and do not appreciate a sudden light shining at their faces. A motion-sensing light that is strategically placed will kick on when possums come near the chickens and potentially drive them off.
- Small Mesh Fencing – A fence that enables a predator to fit through the fence meshing or reach through to grab chickens is inadequate. Be sure your fencing does not have any obvious areas where a predator can easily access the chickens or eggs.
- Maintenance – A thorough examination of the coop area will reveal any potential holes in the fencing, ground that needs to be filled, or other repairs needed to protect the chickens.
- Protect from Above – Of course possums cannot fly but they are good climbers, similar to raccoons, who are also chicken predators. The best overhead protection results come when fencing is placed above the coop to guard against climbers and predators that attack by air. Additionally, cut back any tree limbs that may be hanging near/over the coop to eliminate easy access points.
- Routinely Collect Eggs – If possums or other predators do not have the temptation of eggs at their disposal, they may quickly move on to an easier meal.
- Electric Fencing – One or two-wire electric fencing around the coop will provide a healthy zap to predators like possums that will likely make them regret trying to go in for a kill. This is a much more affordable option than you might image.
- Train Them – Chickens can be trained to return to the hen house every night with the influence of a food reward. The hen house helps hide the chickens away from hungry predators.
- Eliminate Cover – The area around the coop should be cleared of vegetation so that predators do not have the ideal shelter to plan an easy attack. You want possums and other predators to feel exposed so that they may think twice before trying to kill a chicken or eat eggs.
Possums are a real threat to kill chickens and their eggs. However, possums are not the only predators of chickens. You should be aware of hawks, bobcats, owls, coyotes, bear, snakes, racoons, and several other animals that may view your coop as a major opportunity for food.
By taking the necessary steps to protect your chicken coop, you will ensure that predators will have an extremely difficult time entering the coop to kill. You’ve likely spent a lot of time, effort, and money into your chickens. You owe it to yourself and the chicken to provide the best protection possible within your means.