When an Opossum is in the Chicken House
Kevin Felts 09.20.17
This evening around 8:30 p.m., the dogs started barking. Living in the country as we do, the dogs have a lot to bark at, so this was not unusual. However, this time, they were barking at the chicken yard.
The dogs have been trained not to go near the chicken house. But I’ve found that sometimes late at night, they sneak over there (I have trail camera pictures of the dogs just outside the yard). Nothing to worry about, though, as the chicken yard and house were closed up.
In reaction to their coopside barks, I put on my shoes, grabbed the Jaxman X1S light off the table next to the front door, and off to the chicken yard I went. The yard is around 75-90 yards from my house.
Upon arriving at the house I looked in the front window, and there it was–a juvenile opossum walking along the roost right next to the chickens. So what to do? The door going into the yard was closed; I grabbed up a 4-foot-long steel bar that is kept next to the chicken house.
A few months ago, several of my chickens were killed. Was this the guilty chicken-killing beast? Sadly no, this was a juvenile opossum that was terrified and wanted to get outside.
The poor creature was so pitiful as it crawled between the boards of the pallet floor.
To help it escape, I opened the four-foot-wide front door, and the door going into the yard was opened. I guess the flashlight blinded it because it left one set of pallets, went around the inside walls, passed up both doors, and tried to go into another pallet.
At this point I gently grabbed its tail, pulled it out of the pallet, carried it to the chicken yard and safely released it. The door to the chicken yard and the front door were then closed.
To help ensure the young opossum’s safety, the dogs were put inside my house.
Why not kill it?
This was a poor juvenile opossum that was just looking for something to eat. Opossums are not dangerous creatures; when given the opportunity they will run away.
Couple of good things about ‘possums: they are resistant to rabies, and they eat all kinds of bugs.
The opossum was just doing what it does naturally.
However, opossums will gorge themselves on chicken feed, and will sometimes kill chickens. A larger opossum may have killed some of my chickens, but it was not this one.
If the opossum had been caught eating a chicken, things would have been different.
The juvenile was safely released, the chickens are safe, and I am happy with the outcome.