How to protect your ducks and chickens from opossums?
From what I have noticed in the region where I currently live, opossums are animals with a very bad reputation, even though they are practically harmless to humans.
And in spite of performing an important function as a pest exterminator, because the possum can eat thousands of ticks in a year, besides, in spite of its disheveled appearance, almost no possum transmits rabies, unlike other mammals.
But I can understand very well what is the reason for this repudiation or dislike for this animal, the opossum is an omnivorous animal, they eat all kinds of food, from fruits, vegetables, to other small animals, insects, worms ect.
The problem is that the opossum can also consume young birds such as ducks and chickens, in addition to their eggs.
So if in your environment there are opossums and you have poultry, it is necessary that you have some security measures to protect your ducks and chickens.
How is Opossum dangerous for ducks and chickens?
Among some of the many problems of opossums, which is why they generate a lot of adversity from people towards them, is that they are animals that scavenge a lot in the garbage, just like rats.
This makes them be perceived as giant rats, even though they are not related, opossums are actually a kind of marsupial.
In their search for food, possums often “invade” human spaces without fear, and can be found inside homes, schools and other public spaces where food scraps are available.
I have a friend, I told her that I was researching to write a topic about opossums, and she told me that once in the roof of her house, on the sly, a possum had given birth, and that it was a problem to get it out.
If you have poultry in your yard or farm and they are within easy reach of opossums, the opossum could “borrow” the eggs, and if it happens to find a small bird, it will also feed on it.
The opossum is a nocturnal animal, it sleeps during the day and comes out at night to look for food, which is also why it is so difficult to detect it, and it could take chickens and ducks by surprise while they sleep.
In fact, opossums are considered one of the top 10 most dangerous animals to poultry such as chickens and rabbits.
How to know if your chickens or ducks have been attacked by Opossums?
I would not like to stigmatize this animal, but there is no doubt that opossums can be devouring animals, they can even devour snakes, and they are immune to their venom.
In South America, the most direct way to detect if a possum has attacked a duck or a chicken is to see the wounds or the form of the attack on the bird, opossums have a reputation as “vampires”, it is said that they like the blood of animals.
They cause a puncture wound, from which they only feed on the blood of the chicken or duck, and leave the rest of the animal intact. Other people claim that possums only eat part of the bird and leave everything else.
The problem is, there are really very few eyewitnesses to possum predations, it is a nocturnal animal, very elusive, but the fact that opossums can attack chickens and ducks is undeniable.
That of the opossums looking for food at night and feeding on the blood of other animals reminds me a lot of the story of the “chupacabra”, you know that story? it is still a very famous myth in Latin America.
There are other animals such as weasels, ferrets, racoons and foxes that are also capable of exterminating an entire poultry pen, be it ducks or chickens, but these are much more violent and agile than the opossum.
In general, weasels and foxes move their prey a distance away from their pen, opossums tend to cause wounds with their fangs, to suck them in.
7 Tips to protect ducks and chickens from Opossums
Some people opt for the hunting method, but this may be illegal in some states, besides, I don’t like to promote violence against animals on this website, there are natural ways to keep chickens and ducks protected from opossums.
1. Keep your areas lighted: Opossums are animals that forage at night and use darkness as an ally, a simple way to scare them away is to place the poultry in a lighted area at night, or strategically place sensor lights that turn on when they sense movement.
2. Don’t leave food out in the open: Do not leave any of your birds’ food out in the open, and do not leave a lot of accumulated garbage with food scraps near your birds in your pen or yard, as opossums will naturally seek out the discarded food, but will have the opportunity to steal an egg or attack one of the birds if they get within reach.
3. Avoid leaving comfortable corners near your pen: Yes, I know this is almost impossible, but the opossum does not build nests but seeks a “comfortable” place to have their offspring, any place that can serve as a dark shelter should be enclosed or protected. this advice goes hand in hand with the following.
4. Use repellents:, this is a good option to not leave any comfortable space for the possum to feel “at home” in your yard or corral, and thus reduce the chances of attacking your ducks or chickens, there are several commercial repellents, but if you opt for something natural camphor is very effective.
5. Seal all entry holes: Opossums can enter through holes, loose vents, crawl spaces and chimneys. They can also climb up to reach the roof. So, you need to cover all openings into your home. Block all unnecessary entry holes with rocks.
6. Have a guardian pet: If you have enough space and you like geese, keep a couple of them near your ducks and chickens, in a separate place, there is no better watchman than geese, sometimes even better than a dog, they can give the alert and scare away opossums.
7. Keep your ducks and chickens in sturdy cages with concrete floors: although they have claws, possums are not excellent diggers, they can dig into soft surfaces in search of food.
But if you keep your birds in a sufficiently sturdy and secure pen on a concrete floor, there is no way possums can get to them or their eggs.