Protecting Your Chickens from Opossums: Tips and Tricks.

Protecting Your Chickens from Opossums: Tips and Tricks.

As a chicken owner, protecting your chickens from predators should be one of your top priorities. Predators such as opossums, raccoons, and even snakes can wreak havoc on your chicken coop and cause significant harm to your flock. In this article, I will discuss the opossum, a common predator that can cause significant damage to your chicken coop, and provide you with some tips on how to protect your chickens from them.

Understanding Opossums

Opossums are the only marsupial found in North America. They are generally nocturnal and feed on a variety of things, including insects, fruits, and small animals such as rodents and birds. Opossums are omnivorous and will eat just about anything, including garbage and pet food left outside. They are also known for their ability to play dead, a defense mechanism that helps them avoid predators.

Although opossums are not typically aggressive, they can cause significant damage to your chicken coop. They are known to kill chickens and eat their eggs, so it’s important to take steps to keep them away from your flock.

Signs that an Opossum was in your Coop or Run

  1. Chicken or egg loss: If you notice a sudden decrease in the number of chickens or eggs, it could be a sign that an opossum has been feeding on them.
  2. Claw marks: Opossums have sharp claws that can leave visible scratch marks on coop doors or windows, or even on the ground around the coop.
  3. Droppings: Opossum droppings can be found in and around the coop. They are usually small and cylindrical, about the size of a grape.
  4. Disturbed bedding: Opossums may burrow under the bedding material in the coop to gain access to the chickens or eggs. If you notice disturbed bedding, it could be a sign of opossum activity.
  5. Footprints: Opossums have distinct footprints that can be identified by their five toes with sharp claws. You may see these footprints in the dirt around the coop or even on the bedding material.
  6. Food scraps: Opossums are omnivorous and will eat just about anything, so you may notice scraps of food or garbage around the coop if they have been feeding in the area.
  7. Broken eggs: If you find broken eggs in your coop or run with no evidence of a predator breaking in, an opossum may have stolen and eaten them.
  8. Scratching or digging: Opossums are known for scratching and digging, so if you notice any signs of this around your coop or run, it could be a sign that an opossum is present.
  9. Foul smell: Opossums have a distinct odor, so if you notice a foul smell around your coop or run, it could be a sign that an opossum has been there.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action to protect your chickens from opossums and other predators.

Live Trap and Dispatch

If you have an opossum problem, the most effective way to deal with it is to live trap and dispatch them. Live trapping allows you to catch the opossum without harming it, and then release it in a safe location far away from your chicken coop. You can then dispatch it humanely, such as using a carbon dioxide chamber. If you’re not comfortable dispatching the opossum yourself, you can contact a wildlife control professional to do it for you.

Install a Fence

One of the most effective ways to keep opossums and other predators away from your chicken coop is to install a fence. A fence should be at least six feet high and buried at least six inches into the ground. This will prevent opossums and other predators from digging underneath the fence to gain access to your chickens.

In addition to the height of the fence, you should also consider the material it’s made of. A chain-link fence may be less expensive, but it’s also easier for predators to climb. A wooden or vinyl fence may be more expensive, but it’s also more difficult for predators to climb.

Install Motion-Activated Lights

Another effective way to keep opossums and other predators away from your chicken coop is to install motion-activated lights. These lights will turn on when a predator approaches, which can scare them away. The lights should be bright enough to startle the predator, but not so bright that they disturb your neighbors.

In addition to motion-activated lights, you can also install a sound deterrent. There are several devices on the market that emit a high-pitched sound when a predator approaches. This sound can be annoying to the predator, and it can also alert you to their presence.

Use Chicken Wire

Chicken wire can be an effective way to keep opossums and other predators away from your chicken coop. Chicken wire should be used to cover any openings in the coop or run, such as windows or vents. This will prevent predators from gaining access to your chickens.

It’s important to note that chicken wire should not be used as a fence. It’s not strong enough to keep predators out, and it can also be easily cut or torn. Instead, use a stronger fencing material, such as hardware cloth or welded wire.

Clean Up Around Your Coop

Opossums and other predators are attracted to food, so it’s important to clean up around your chicken coop. This includes removing any spilled feed, as well as any fruits or vegetables that may have fallen from nearby trees. You should also make sure to securely store any garbage or compost bins, as these can also attract predators.

In addition to food, predators are also attracted to shelter. This means that it’s important to remove any piles of debris or brush that may be near your coop. These can provide a hiding place for predators, making it easier for them to sneak up on your chickens.


Protecting your chickens from predators like opossums should be a top priority for any chicken owner. By understanding these predators and taking the necessary precautions, you can help keep your flock safe and secure. Remember to install a fence, use motion-activated lights, cover openings with chicken wire, and clean up around your coop to deter predators from coming near. And if you do have an opossum problem, live trapping and dispatching is the most effective way to deal with it.

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About James Polystead

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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