A surprise in the chicken coop!

So I found an unexpected visitor in the chicken coop this evening. I was out doing my normal end of day chore routine, except tonight it was dark. I have had a hard time adjusting to the earlier sunsets and have been late with my chores. Therefore, by the time I made it to the chicken coop, the sun had fully set and night had fallen.

Nighttime brings out a whole new set of creatures in the windy woods. With my headlight guiding the way, I turned the corner to the chicken house only to see a slip of a naked tail. Ugh! I thought, a rat! However, once I entered the coop I realized this wasn’t just a very big rat, but instead, was a very small opossum! It was standing on its hind legs looking up at one of the chickens as if to say “are you my mother?” This was definitely one lost little critter.

I watched as the opossum wandered around the chicken house trying to think of what to do. I couldn’t leave it in the house, it was all closed up for the night. So I decided I should get something to catch it with so I could move it. I left the coop quickly and went to the barn where I found one of my kid’s 4H chicken cages. As I brought it back to the coop, I saw that tail again. The opossum had thought about leaving the house, but when it saw me coming back, it ran back in again. As I entered the house, I quickly became confused. Where was this little opossum?

It had literally disappeared. I was baffled. I had just seen it enter the house. There is only one door. I frantically searched around for a hole or some other route of escape. As I was searching around, I noticed that naked tail hanging down underneath one of the chickens. That rascal opossum had hidden himself between two chickens sitting on their perch. I was not only surprised that the chickens didn’t care about the marsupial snuggled next to them, but also at the intelligence displayed by this little creature.

I had to move the chickens, and place the cage under the perch. However, I did not want to touch the opossum and risk being bitten. So I got a stick and had to push him off into the cage.

Of course I had to share the funny new “pet” with my family. They all agreed we were not keeping him! However, it is not every day you get to see a live opossum so close. We decided since he wasn’t a predator, we would relocate him down the road a bit. Hopefully, he will decide our coop is not a hangout.

This adventure did interest me in finding a bit more about opossums. They don’t eat chickens… but they would help themselves to a few eggs. They also like snails, small rodents, plants and insects. So, best to be sure I get back into the habit of shutting down the farm before daylight ends – to keep egg robbers and other nighttime creatures at bay.

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