That Wasn’t No Fox in the Hen House
Evening chores are usually done in a matter of minutes. Refill waters, close up the chicken coop, say goodnight. When Agapi graciously offered to do my chores last night that’s what we both expected. Well did he get more than he bargained for.
Five minutes went by. Ten minutes. By fifteen minutes I was getting worried. Did the wonderfully disappointing winter storm Toby drop a tree branch on his head? Just as I was heading for the door to check my husband popped his head inside and announced there was an intruder in the hen house.
Now I’ve told this man repeatedly to start any bad news of accidents or the like with “everyone’s ok” but he has yet to do so. I instantly envisioned decapitated chickens drained of blood littering the chicken coop floor. My face must have said as much because he quickly shared that all the ladies were safe on their roost bar. However there was a possum squatting in one of the nest boxes.
It was eating the chicken food. Gross.
It had sharp teeth and long claws with a rat like tail. Gross.
It had its dirty little behind all over where the eggs we eat are laid. Extra gross.
Guess we might have to upgrade our fencing. This is the first real incident we’ve had with a predator (aside from one run in with a hawk) but I doubt it will be the last.
After reporting the intruder to me Agapi went upstairs for his pellet gun. At first I thought that might be a drastic measure but a few quick internet searches convinced me otherwise. Possums are known to eat chicken eggs as well as the chickens themselves. Their sharp teeth and claws make it easy to sever a chicken’s neck and drink its blood Dracula style. The only remotely cute thing about a possum is the fact it carries its babies in a pouch. Otherwise it’s way more vampire rat than cuddly kangaroo.
Now I’ll admit, unlike with Larry, we shot first and checked regulations later. Turns out in Connecticut there is a specific hunting and trapping season for possums but property owners may dispatch one outside of the regulated season if it is causing property damage or is an obvious threat to public health and safety.
It gnawed the edges off the chicken feeder, scratched up an egg box, ate some chicken eggs, and was arguably an imminent threat to our flock. Property damage? Check.
Despite strong immune systems it is possible for possums to transmit diseases and their presence may contribute to unsanitary conditions. It was in our egg box. Ew ew ew. Threat to public health and safety? Check.
We already knew from previous research the pellet gun was kosher to use in the backyard and it proved to be quite effective at point blank range.
See all that blood? We discovered one of the chickens had a ripped comb the following morning so more justification on the property damage front. Was I sorry to kill a wild animal just trying to get by? Absolutely. We might butcher the rabbits and chickens for the dinner table (that’s not fun either) but I hate to see a life taken needlessly. This poor guy simply preyed on the wrong flock of chickens.
Better luck next time buddy. Or rather there better not be a next “buddy” in our hen house.