Milk Maid

Opossums no longer welcome here!

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It tastes like chicken.” Chicken is delicious and is great for cooking many different dishes. It’s not just humans that think so either. Recently, my flock of chickens found this out the hard way.

I had just started feeding my calves when my dog Pixie started barking, which isn’t unusual for her. I didn’t think too much of it, so I just kept feeding my calves. As I turned the corner, I saw my chickens running all over the place and a huge opossum in their barn and a pile followed by a trail of blood and feathers.

If you’re a regular reader of my column, I’ve written about two of my previous opossum encounters recently. For the most part, my previous encounters had been civil with opossums, but they were also small and young opossums. Anyway, after calling for help, this opossum where eradicated from the chicken barn and premise.

And, the next morning, another opossum with blood and feathers on it, was trapped outside of the chicken barn. The good news is there are two less chicken eating opossums, but the bad news is one of my chickens is gone. Just a few days previously to the chicken incident, I lost two of my rabbits to a opossum attack.

They were two of my sweet, older bucks that I let free roam in the barn, so unfortunately they didn’t have a chance. So, my peaceful tune to opossums has changed. I’m not in favor of killing an animal just to do it, but nuisance animals are different. I’m naturally a curious person and I’m still pretty upset about losing those animals.

To help me understand these critters better, I actually emailed the Marshall office of the Department of Natural Resources to ask them questions about opossums. One of the first questions I had was why are we seeing so many more opossums than in the past?

Wendy Krueger of the DNR said, “We are observing more opossums in southern MN the last several years after relatively mild winters. Since they have naked ears, nose and tail they are susceptible to prolonged freezing temps which have limited their populations here in the past.”

Krueger also sent me along with several pages from the DNR manual. She sent me information about opossum trapping season. Honestly, I didn’t know there was a season for that. Anyway, the season runs from October 20 through March 15 and there isn’t a limit on how many you can trap.

However, there are rules and regulations, so if you’re interested, the information is available through the DNR. The DNR recommends contacting them or wildlife authorities about nuisance animals. I also didn’t think a opossum would take down a large bird or a rabbit but I was severely wrong.

“When they kill adult chickens, they will usually be killed by bites to the neck, and the opossums often just eat the contents of birds’ crops and occasionally some of the chest. Sometimes they will just drink the blood. In any case, they don’t normally consume the whole bird.”

Everyday is an adventure I guess. While my chicken was devoured, my rabbits were vampire like victims and that was weird and gross. I know many Mascot readers have small animals like chickens and rabbits and enjoy them immensely. You can try to protect them with proper housing and other strategies, but sometimes things just happen that are out of you control.

I still think opossums are ugly, and I feel a little bit bad for them, I wish they would get the hint they are no longer welcome here.

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