Its no wonder that chicken owners ask the question ‘do possums eat chickens?’ Possums, more specifically the Virginia Opossum that lives in the Northern Hemisphere (different to Southern Hemisphere possums) will kill and eat chickens.
It’s kind of hard to imagine a cute little animal like the Opossum doing such a deed! But don’t let their looks fool you, Opossums killing chickens is more common than you think.
We have investigated the most effective steps you can take to keep opossums away from harming your flock.
What this article covers
Below are some quick links. Click any of them to go straight to the section you are interested in – or just carry on reading for the full article!
Do Possums Eat Chickens?
Yes, they certainly do. Opossums (to clarify what type of possum we are talking about) will kill and eat chickens.
Opossums come into conflict with chickens and their keepers when they are searching for food. If hungry they will steal chicken feed and eggs and also kill live chickens to eat.
Signs an Opossum Has Killed Your Chicken
If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of having to determine what killed your chickens, there are certain signs to look out for when doing your detective work.
Footprints: Check for any footprints around the coop to determine what type of animal was there. Opossum footprints have five toes and their footprint actually looks more like a handprint.
Chicken Carcass: An opossum will maul one chicken at a time and then eat the adult chicken from its back end.It eats the chicken from the inside and leaves a sack of skin and feathers behind. Opossums will eat chicks in their entirety and you may only find a few feathers left behind.
Eggs: Opossums cause eggs to be mashed and messy, often chewing the shells into small pieces and leaving those pieces in the nest
Where Can Opossums be Found?
Opossums can be found throughout most of North America including Canada.
Opossums are generally found in areas like forests, shrubland, mangrove swamps, rainforests and eucalyptus forests.
However they have adapted well to urban areas thanks to garbage and trash being easily accessible.
Their preferred habitats are old abandoned burrows and dens, brush piles, and hollow logs. Ideally the area will be near a water source.
In cities, abandoned houses, outbuildings, attics and other such secluded places provide ample private space for them.
Having Opossums around your property can be beneficial. They are useful creatures for keeping snakes and rodents at bay. The key to having a happy balance with their presence is to ensure they are not facilitated to prey on your chickens.
Preventing Opossums From Killing Your Chickens
The best way to prevent opossums from becoming a nuisance to you or your chickens is to ensure your coop and run are secured and are opossum proof.
Wire mesh with holes small enough to prevent even the smallest opossums from getting through will keep them out and a mesh apron around the bottom of your coop should prevent digging.
Check that door or window locks cannot be maneuverered open by the opossum.
Collect eggs daily and do regular checks around the coop to monitor whether opossums are hanging around.
Opossums are most active at night so chicken feed should be left inaccessible to opossums overnight and scraps should be removed at the end of the day.
Automatic or treadle feeders are great for keeping rodents and predators away. We use this Grandpas feeder which has saved us a lot of money on lost feed.
What To Do If Opossums Are Hanging Around?
If you see an opossum in your coop try and lure them out with some tinned cat or dog food or some chicken feed.
If this fails then get a long pole and gently prod them to move away from the area where they are not wanted.
They may bare their teeth and start drooling to discourage you from approaching them. Do not get close to them as they can carry disease and cause infection if they bite you.
If you leave them alone after this they are likely to move on and get themselves out of danger.
Sometimes they will fall over and play dead when being threatened, you may be able to pick them up with a long handled shovel and relocate them.
Some people go as far to buy an opossum predator urine such as from a wolf, coyote or fox to spray around the coop and run area to discourage opossums from coming back. This can be readily bought from Amazon.
It is possible to live in harmony with opossums, just ensure your coop is secured with small mesh wiring all the way around to prevent the opossum getting through any openings. Keeping feed and scraps inaccessible is also a great way to discourage them from hanging around your coop or run.
Wondering how to keep other predators such as hawks away from your chickens? Read our top tips here!
Chicken Care Shopping List
Are you looking for a shopping list of everything you need when caring for your precious flock? We have put together an easy reference of items for your convenience.