The Case of the Egg-Sucking Possums


When my egg production starts slowing down it typically means that there’s a predator afoot scaring my girls. When production is down AND I begin finding cracked eggs in the laying box I know who the culprit is. Pleasantly plump possums probably pilfering and plundering.

As of the day of this writing, I have captured three fat and shiny egg-filled possums so far. The first one ended up killing poor Telsa last year! Knowing Tesla, she spazzed out, flew off her roost and accidentally started a fight to the death with not-too-cute-but-kinda-cute possum.

Here’s the only footage my security camera got before I logged in and accidentally pointed it downward…

I trapped that fool that very night! And despite the blood of Tesla still floating around my saddened melon, I did not seek justice. The possum was just being a possum. I was also impressed how silky smooth and shiny it was! Months of nutritious and easily-procured eggs had gone a long way to make THE healthiest possum I’ve ever seen.

So I decided to re-home the fat beast. I did so in the cover of night (about 3am I recall). Thinking that I was surely breaking some law or another I thought it prudent to hide in the shadows. Let the darkness wash over me.

It wasn’t until I had another intruder recently that I actually called The Humane Society and asked the question in my best “anonymous citizen” voice. Turns out the agent told me to do exactly what I did anyways. As they are a native species, there are no laws governing relocation and local canyons are the best spots to do so. It’s also best to do before sunrise if you can so they have a little time to get adjusted before the heat and light of day. I opted on transporting her into a fancier neighborhood than my own. Cuz, screw those entitled pricks. Joking (not joking).

I was alerted to her presence when I noticed at 10pm all my hens were out of the coop and having fits in the run. I quickly closed the coop door to block any escape attempts and made my way to the laying box. She was literally in the egg laying box slightly reclined with a half of an eggshell in one hand and her other on her belly. I shit you not! Like Nero, reclined and satiated, she seemed almost off-put by my flashlight and interrupting demeanor. “Can I help you ape?”

Dramatization

The video above tells the rest of her story so I shan’t bore you with double details. I will say that the one thing I noticed was how young she was. Knowing that possum litters are typically large in numbers I just know that there are many siblings in the general area.

I decided it wise to reset the trap the next night to see if I can catch any brothers and sisters. Not two nights later I caught this fuzzy fella. Mind you, I’ve no idea as to their actual sex. They just gave me a male or female vibe is all.

His sibling was a much calmer possum than he was. She didn’t hiss or gape once during the the entire catch and release. I credit slow movements and a light cooing sound when I was moving her. This fella however was a little bit gapey, but no hissing at least. Pro Tip: you can change the negative tone of the fear-gape digitally when you add a little pizzazz to it in the form of wavy text…

Heyyy buddy.

I took him to the same spot as his sister. I’m positive that there will be more coming so I’ll keep re-setting that trusty ol’ trap of mine. Maybe they’ll have a sweet family reunion and exchange tales of eggs of yore.

As of this week, all then hens have been laying normally again which tells me that night time visits have slowed down enough for them to feel safe again. The butt nugget factory is in full production mode again.

I also went into the neighboring property as the weeds were taller than me back there and I thought I may find a burrow or three. I decided it would be prudent to cut back all that growth so there isn’t such a cozy and well-hidden highway into my bountiful oasis. Plus at night I can better patrol the perimeter if I remove some cover.

I left some spots for little critters to hunt, hide, and bang in. I’m no monster after all. But now there’s a patrolable perimeter and good sight line for me and my dog.

I wanted to share this story so people know that there are options that don’t involve killing an animal for doing what comes natural. Possum are far more beneficial than they are troublesome. They eat ALL the ticks! They are also the only marsupial we have here. That’s pretty neat.

little cutie!

You don’t have to mean or homicidal with unwelcome guests, you just have to be smarter than them when it comes to protecting your flock.

But that’s just, like, my opinion man.


6 Replies to “The Case of the Egg-Sucking Possums”

  1. I certainly hope your possums appreciate the thought you put into choosing a new neighborhood for them. We have the occasional possum guest on our front porch, eating the porch kitties’ food. I just grin back …

  2. I’m pretty sure they’re pissed at the shocking lack of yummy eggos in the wilderness. “The service here is terrible. I’ll be taking my travelers checks to a competing resort!!”

  3. Thanks for the reminders of my own opossum trials & tribulations.

    I have no chickens to defend or alert me to them- that’s left to the poodle. She has helped me wrangle wayward baby opossums who were determined to enter the house thru a torn screen door.

    After this happened a few times I realized: Mamma had moved into the safety of the yard, under a storage shed, with babies in tow. It was a good choice: my yard is full of tasty bugs and fallen fruit.

    Then, after a few weeks, mom moved out and left a gaggle of opossum pups behind to fend for themselves in a secure fenced yard. From mom’s perspective this must have been a logical course of action and responsible parenting.

    This happened each summer for a few years, leaving me to capture the abandoned youngsters and relocate them before the poodle did what hunting-breed pups do: dispatch the wide-eyed youngsters with a quick, neck-breaking flick of her head. (I admire her ratting skills, but baby opossums were another story)

    Once I realized what was going on I began evening patrols, wearing gloves and carrying a flashlight. One baby was captured and relocated to the local canyon. Several others were collected and transported to the safety of the porch of Project Wildlife, with a note and donation to help defray their care and feeding.

    The babies are cute, but the parents are ornery.
    I hope they are doing well, wherever Project Wildlife dropped them off.

    1. Hi Lori! So nice to hear you’re doing the nicer option. Possum are far more beneficial than they are a nuisance. And cute in an ugly way. They deserve some respect.

      I really like the live trap I got a few years ago. And I just keep it set and ready for the rest of the siblings. Three so far! And I bet there are plenty more.

      I also dig your writing style. So feel free to comment on all my posts! A very welcome voice.

  4. Thanks for your stories- happy to comment!

    Your posts remind me I need to set up a blog about my monarch adventures this summer (I’m a butterfly rancher during this teaching recess)

    As you point out: for many reasons, on many levels, Opossums are the good guys. They eat decaying fruit, and their consumption/resistance re:ticks is more important than ever. We need to understand their physiology, copy it, and immunize the rest of us from Lyme etc.

    I try to persuade other gardeners to treat them as a valuable resource vs. invasive pest. They aren’t exactly “charismatic”- more functional than aesthetic.

    Re:the poodle- I adopted her after my mother died. My mom cultivated a lovely garden that I also care for- but she also had a fear of opossums and worried the big hissing adults would fight with the poodle. So I bought her a live trap for capturing the big guys- and she may have caught a few.

    I think I still have it- but the babies are easy to grab (with gloves). I usually toss a towel over them, gently pick them up, place them in a box, and leave the towel in place to keep them warm & calm until Project Wildlife volunteers take over their care.

    My more recent concern has been raccoons. They look cute- but they could do serious damage to the poodle.

    I had a trio of youngsters climb a tree and dance on my roof last summer. When I shooed them away, they continued their party on my truck, that was parked under the tree: I discovered muddy raccoon footprints on the windshield and hood.

    Another one left a… “calling card” on top of the canopy over my outdoor storage/workshop (under yet another tree)

    Wildlife… it’s their world, we just visit it from time to time.

    1. Ah, a teacher would explain the stellar sentence structure and writing skills. My mom was a teacher and has recently taken to the occasional “lol” or other such abbreviations. To which I protest verily! Proper English is a dying art it seems. Says the pedantic man. I digress.

      I get the occasional raccoon in the yard. Not many in my inner city settings. We have an arrangement here where I keep my little pond stocked with goldfish for them so long as they leave my hens alone. It’s worked for six years now. You might enjoy this casual summer reading in the subject…

      https://mindyourdirt.com/2016/08/27/the-poop-of-the-night-beasts/

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