If you keep a flock of chickens, then one thing you are going to need to think about is predators. Now, depending on where you live, the types and kinds of predators may vary and each brings about their only level of threat, complications, and the considerations you will need to take to protect your birds. Possums are one such predator that you may be concerned about. But what are the things you can do, especially if you have a local population nearby? This is the recommended approach to take.
So, how do you keep possums away from chickens? To keep possums away from your chickens you are going to need to both reduce incentives for them to visit and make it increasingly difficult for them to be able to gain access to the coop. Removing food quickly, ensuring the coop is securely fastened and reinforced, and erecting deterrents all work well.
Possums are omnivores with their main diet consisting of insects, especially beetles.
These marsupials do enjoy a wide array of food in their natural habitat that includes insects, worms, frogs, nuts, fruits, and dead animals.
They also prey on small rodents, moles, shrews, and voles.
Possums are not usually a threat to chickens, but they are opportunistic eaters.
In other words, they eat what they can get their hands on!
For this reason, if they can access the coop, they can quickly kill small chicks and small hens as well as eat the eggs.
One thing to note here is that not all possums are omnivores; distinctive species differ in the amount of vegetation and meat they consume.
The Calurmyinae are frugivores meaning that they eat raw fruit and certain vegetables.
Lutrine and Patagonian opossums mostly feed on other animals, and sadly this includes chickens.
It’s worth noting that possums are Australian and opossums are from North America.
However, opossums are shortened to possums. Both animals might look different, but they are both a potential threat to chickens, and you must keep your flock safe.
Worried About Predators?
Discover all the main predators and threats to your chickens, including how to keep them all out, and your birds safe.
Let us now take a closer look at those questions that you may be having, such as how much of a danger they are to your birds.
We will also be looking at if they can get through chicken wire and the things you can do to remove a possum that does successfully make their way into the coop.
Lastly, we will look at those practical steps to take to prevent possums from getting onto your property, to begin with, so be sure to keep reading to the end to get all the information you need!
Are Possums Dangerous To Chickens?
Possums are not usually a threat to chickens or any poultry birds, but they are opportunistic, and they like their food.
If they can access a chicken coop or the run, they will kill and eat the chicks and small hens, as well as the eggs.
Possums are not very aggressive, but they have very sharp teeth, and they can kill a hen very quickly.
They are likely scared of roosters due to their size and the fact that they are often protective of their hens, willing to fight any predator to protect the flock.
It’s essential to take precautions in protecting your chickens from possums and other predators.
The excellent news is possums are not good diggers; they don’t necessarily like to go to much effort for their food.
These marsupials avoid noisy and lighted areas. Something as humble as a string of fairy lights and a radio is enough to deter these creatures – they are not the most determined killers.
Ultimately, if you don’t take some simple but necessary steps to keep your flock safe, possums are potentially dangerous to chickens.
Can Possums Get Through Chicken Wire?
Possums have a mouthful of sharp teeth that can easily tear through various grades of chicken wire. For this reason, chicken wire isn’t sufficient to protect your flock from predators. Its main purpose is keeping chickens in and stopping them from wandering off!
Hardware cloth with a fine mesh, however, is excellent at keeping possums and other predators out. Using 1/4″ or 1/2″ is advised.
This is the one to buy off Amazon, just take a look at the reviews and you’ll soon see how many chicken keepers swear by it!
Even with solidified wire mesh, you must make sure that it is securely attached and fastened to your coop or run.
Otherwise, small animals will try to pry it off or bend it so that they can easily squeeze through.
Chicken wire may be cheaper than mesh, but possums can quickly get through and kill your flock.
This is of course tragic, especially considering all the effort you put in to caring for them and raising them.
How To Get A Possum Out Of A Chicken Coop?
If you ever encounter a possum in your coop, you will need to quickly remove them. I understand that this can be a challenge; and they can be quite intimidating to deal with.
Possums, thankfully, are not carriers of many diseases such as rabies because they have robust immune systems, so passing these over to you or your birds is not a concern.
They respond to potential danger by baring their teeth, growling, and hissing, and they can even bite with their sharp teeth.
If they are in a state of extreme fear, however, they will feign death. This is known as “playing possum.”
When they play possum, they will lay perfectly still, tongue sticking out, and they will emit a putrid smell, with a green substance coming from their anus.
It’s far from a pretty sight, but it does afford you the opportunity to act and get them out of the coop.
Otherwise, if you can, you can look to catch them by hand. Many chicken keepers report to doing this.
By wearing a pair of animal handling gloves, like these best sellers Amazon, you will not need to touch the possum directly and you will not need to worry about any bites.
While wearing these you can attempt to pick up the possum, whether they are active or playing dead.
However, you’ll likely find that they resort to the latter if you get close enough.
Thankfully, possums are not renowned for being particularly intelligent or agile so you should be able to get them.
If you are really frightened of these animals, then you could always consider contacting a pest control service in your area.
They will be able to do the deed for you and may even be able to take them away with them.
One thing to remember is that once you catch them, you’ll then need to get rid of them.
Some people will release the possum back into the wild but this can result in them coming back.
So it is advised that you relocate a trapped possum to a new area; releasing them back into a natural environment away from suburban areas.
How To Keep Possums Away From Chickens
It’s essential to take the necessary steps in protecting your flock from possums and other predators.
Possums are not necessarily the biggest threat to chickens, they are not that willing, and they don’t like to work that hard for their food.
Be aware that these creatures are not skilled at opening locks or latches, but they can climb fences, and they can dig underneath them.
That being said, a possum that has got inside your chicken coop is a terrible threat to small chicks. They sometimes kill adult chickens too.
They typically kill these birds by biting their neck, and they will eat the contents of the bird’s crops and chest.
They also drink the blood – ew -but they usually eat the whole bird.
You want to prevent a blood bath, so taking the following steps will prevent that from happening:
Clean Up Your Yard
Having a clean yard is essential in keeping predators away. Don’t leave out any food overnight. Clean up any seed from the ground.
Pick up the fruit that fell from nearby trees.
Remove any dirt, debris, bushes, and woodpiles, make sure you leave no hiding spaces for predators.
Place the lids on the garbage cans, and don’t leave out any water sources. All your coop’s entrances should be closed securely and latched adequately at night.
Wire Mesh Must Be Securely Attached
Wire mesh on your coop and the run must be securely attached, as small animals will attempt to bend and pry it so they can squeeze through.
Don’t use chicken wire; it’s not enough of a barrier to keep your flock safe.
Chicken wire only keeps your birds in, but it doesn’t keep predators out.
Possums have very sharp teeth that can tear that wire in no time; instead, use a hardware cloth with a fine mesh ( use 1/4″ or 1/2″).
Make Some Noise
Many predators are frightened of humans, so playing a radio at night by the coop is an excellent deterrent for possums.
Equally, the music should not be of a disturbance to your birds. They may even enjoy it.
Get A Rooster
Consider getting a Rooster as a form of protection!
An aggressive rooster is an excellent deterrent who are willing and able to fight off any predator. They are very protective of their hens.
A guinea fowl or a guard dog is also perfect protectors.
Collect Eggs Everyday
Predators almost always go for the eggs, it’s fast food for them, and they don’t have to work hard to get them.
Make sure you collect the eggs frequently to prevent possums and other unwanted visitors.
Install Electric Fencing And Motion Sensor Lighting Around Your Coop
When electric fencing is installed correctly and functioning, it is enough to keep out any land-based predator.
Most nocturnal predators dislike being caught in the spotlight, and a sudden light shining on them, triggered by their movement is likely to scare them away.
These motion sensor lights on Amazon are very versatile and affordable. They’re great for installing near and around the coop.
Trap And Relocate
If things become unmanageable, you should consider trapping and relocating a nuisance possum.
Check with your local authority that this is legal where you live.
A wildlife removal company or local authority can remove your problem possum safely.
Possums are essential to our ecosystem because they consume insects, slugs, rodents, snakes, and other animals; for this reason, you shouldn’t kill them.
Possums are mostly scavengers that don’t want to work too hard for their food.
They are, however, avid climbers that will do their best to get any eggs and will even go for the juveniles if given the chance.
You will know that a possum, or another predator, has got to your eggs because you will find parts of the egg and the shells around the coop.
Thankfully, these marsupials are not the worst danger to your flock, but always remember that the potential is always there.
These creatures, like many predators, are attracted to the smell of food, and this will bring them to the coop.
Don’t leave out any pet food.
Clean up any seed that has fallen to the ground from bird feeders. Pick up any fruit from the land that has fallen from nearby fruit trees.
Beyond this, make sure you take the appropriate steps in keeping your flock safe.
If possums can access your coop, even worse predators are capable.
Rest assured that once you have done all you can to protect your chickens, you shouldn’t have to worry about the sight of a possum.
Increasing visibility in your yard is crucial, especially as these creatures like to sneak around out of sight before gaining access to your chicken coop.
Possums and other predators don’t want to be seen.
Keeping your backyard clear of dirt and other debris will eliminate hiding spaces for these pests.
A well-designed and safe coop is essential, but even more so is a human presence, human voices put off possums and other creatures; having a radio on all night near the coop is an excellent deterrent.
Possums will not go out of their way to kill a chicken but may do so if they are hungry enough, presented with the opportunity and they believe they can kill the bird. Chicks and young birds are therefore particularly vulnerable. They typically kill these birds by biting at the neck.
Possums do eat chickens if they have been able to kill them. They will mostly attempt to eat the contents of the bird’s crop and chest.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.