Clash of the Cute Baby Animals


Ida and possum

My husband managed to snap this cell phone picture of our four month-old chicken, Ida, during her first encounter with a baby possum.  The presence of a baby possum in our backyard is not a good thing–possums, skunks, and raccoons will all go after a chicken dinner when they can–but it was nonetheless quite entertaining to see little Ida process this new information.  She's quite bold for such a little thing–the other chickens flapped their wings and ran away in terror, but Ida marched right along behind the possum until he finally vanished.

For those of you who have been wondering how our separate flock situation is working out: we do still have them separated.  The two youngsters, Ida and Lady Bird, are sleeping in a makeshift pen in the run, and the adults sleep in the coop as usual.  They are now able to free range without supervision during the day.  They mostly stay away from each other, and if they do get too close, the younger birds are big enough and fast enough to get out of the way. Soon it'll be time to start locking them all up together for short periods while I sit outside and listen for signs of trouble.

Like I've got that kind of time.  But for now, anyway, it seems like the only way to get them back together as a flock.


  1. Sounds so similar to my cat situation of late. Suddenly, these long-time buddies can’t be together b/c 1 of them is terrified of the other. It’s his reaction to having a possible adoptee cat here for a day, then smelling the room she was in. Meds are being prepared to calm the terrified cat down.

    Cat and chick owners really have to know their social psychology.

  2. I didn’t know possums were a threat to chickens! Ida must be a very brave bird, and even though he’s a potential baddie, that baby possum is cute.

    Susan, have you tried Feliway for the cat situation? It did wonders for our cat when we adopted her — really helped to calm her.

  3. Not even baby possums are cute to me anymore, not after all these years of doing battle with the species over my birds, the feed bins, being chased out of my barn by a snarling giant of a possum. Not to mention the diseases they carry – I’ve lost stock, friends have lost very valuable horses. It makes one cautious.

  4. LOL. That possum is adorable. Trouble, but adorable anyway. When I used to volunteer at the SF zoo as a kid the possums were my favorite.

    The other day I had a neighbor kitty, a great big bengal named Leo, try to go after some chicken lunch. He chased Beryl, who ran around flapping. Then her sister Ethel puffed up like a turkey, ran up to the cat and pecked him square in the nose!

    He scrunched up like an accordion and walked away shaking his head and looking completely puzzled and slightly embarrassed.

    This second defeat came after my much smaller orange kitty had argued with him and backed him into a dip in the pond. It wasn’t a great day for poor Leo.

  5. I have a chicken groupie (read: neighborhood cat who thinks she’s an honorary chicken – I even found she had squeaked into the coop and was sleeping in the woodshavings one morning…) who is quite cowed by the rather fearless girls. Tallulah loves to sleep outside the run while the girls are scratching and dust-bathing and snarking at each other, but as soon as I let them out for recess they chase her up the fence and she retires to the roof of the shed next door to admire them.

    My two cats are scared of them, even though they know the coop is where those delicious eggs come from.

  6. What diseases are you talking about? I’ve done a good bit of possom research because they insist on living in my cellar and I’ve never read or heard of anything to suggest that possoms are big disease vectors. In fact, they rarely if ever get rabies. I’ve really come to like the possoms I’ve encountered. They’ve never been hostile, even when live trapped. Now those damn raccoons are another story.

  7. My experience with the opossum in the hav-a-hart more closely resembles this excerpt from William Alexander’s The $64 Tomato.

    As I had approached the trap, before I was within six feet, a snarling, teeth-baring, drooling opossum had starting leaping for my jugular. I had never been close to an opossum, but I had trapped squirrels and groundhogs, and I had never been afraid of an animal in the trap. Until that moment. An opossum is one nasty animal, with a long, tapered tail, sharp, pointy teeth, and really, really unpleasant eyes. And this one was clearly not happy with me.

    Fun book, BTW.

  8. Baby possum is cute but will grow up to be a chicken killer. I lost 3 birds to a possum years ago. It just yanked off their heads, ate the “fun” parts, and left the carcasses. I know it was a possum ’cause I caught it flagrante delicto one night. It’s pure luck that I wasn’t mauled, because I cornered it in the henhouse with a broom and then realized I hadn’t given it any way to get out. I finally sidled over and it scooted out. It was all my fault, for not securing the henhouse and the yard better. If you’re gonna have free-range chickens, you’re likely to wake up to some carcasses some day. My 2 cents: keep the yard securely fenced.

  9. I know we have raccoons in this area. It wouldn’t surprise if we had possum, too. My run may not be predator proof, but my coop is and I shut the girls in at night. Tomorrow will be their first (supervised) free range experience.

    One of them squawked for the first time this morning. My babies are growing up.

  10. Ohmygosh! I can’t believe you got that shot!

    I’m constantly scared that my ten pounds Italian Greyhounds are going to come face to face with a possum in our backyard one of these days…


  11. For Mary Contrary –
    For Mary Contrary – opposums are known carriers of leptospirosis, which is a serious concern in my area. They’re vectors for the parasite that causes most cases of Equine Protozoal Myelitis. They also carry tuberculosis, relapsing fever, herpes virus, tularemia, salmonella, spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis, trichomoniasis, Chagas Disease, yellow fever, and rabies. Rabies is rare enough in them I don’t worry about it. Some of the others aren’t problems here, some are.

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