How To Get Rid of Opossums
Opossums, more commonly called possums, are versatile animals that can cause a variety of nuisance concerns. From living in your attic or under your house, or eating pet food or garbage, these opportunistic animals are common in suburban areas.
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Opossums are slow, but excellent climbers, and will live in attics. They will also live under sheds or decks. They have a very strong immune system, but seldom live more than three years. They are nocturnal.
|Opossum Info: Opossums are unique for several reasons.
They are the only North American marsupials. This means that females have a pouch on the belly where
the young, up to 13, are carried and nourished for a time after their birth. Opossums also have a
prehensile tail, from which they can occasionally hang. They are also well known for "playing possum", or
feigning death, a defense tactic. Adult possums are typically about two feet long and about ten pounds. They are omnivorous, and will eat almost anything, including carrion and garbage.
Nuisance concerns: The opossum complaints received are usually due to one of three reasons:
1) They have taken up residence under a porch or shed.
2) They are stealing garbage, pet food, or harassing pets.
3) They have taken up residence in an attic, or gotten inside the home.
I frequently deal with possums in attics, a fact which surprises many people. Opossums in attics can leave quite a mess with
their large droppings. Opossums can also carry various parasites and diseases. They are not the cleanest of animals, and
carry a strong odor.
After you read the below information, in the event that you wish to hire a possum removal company, you may want to see how much does opossum removal cost?
How to Get Rid of Possums: While other wild animals allow a number of different control techniques, when it comes to opossums, the only real way to get rid of them is via trapping and removal.
Opossums are very easy to catch. Just set a large cage trap, at least 10x12x32, or a raccoon sized trap in the area where the opossum frequents. Then you can bait it with pretty much anything. Opossums
are opportunistic feeders and scavengers. However, there are a number of baits that far outperform others, and which can help prevent the catch of non-target animals. Many considerations go into
trapping, far beyond just the proper equipment, bait, and trap placement. Wildlife trapping is not the simple matter many people think it is, just like plumbing or electrical work is not simple. There
are also legal concerns - it's probably illegal for you to trap and remove or relocate possums in your state. It's also possible to capture an oppossum by hand, especially if
it's confined to a small area, such as in a wall or inside the house living space.
Top 8 Tips for How to Get Rid of Possums:
- If the possums are in your attic or under your house or shed, inspect your house to identify the entry points - you'll need to seal these areas shut after the animals are gone.
- Possums are one of the easiest animals to trap in a cage, and the only animal that will commonly enter a trap placed in an attic - that said, it's still better to set traps outside.
- If the opossums are living in your attic, you can often remove them by hand, or with a snare pole. They will often stay still or hide down a wall.
- If the possums are living under a shed, deck, porch, or elevated house, you'll need to install a steel exclusion barrier around the perimeter to keep them out. Leave one section open to set a trap or a one-way exclusion door.
- When trapping, use a large sturdy steel cage trap, at least 12"x12"x32". Always set the trap in the shade, to prevent overheating. Make sure the trap is on a solid, level surface.
- If a possum is eating pet food or crops or bird seed, you will need to either fence these things in, or remove these attractants from the outdoors for a period of time until these nomadic marsupials wander away from the area.
- It may not be legal for you to trap and relocate possums in your state, but if it is, and if you can do it yourself release them at five miles away from your property to keep them from returning.
- Repellent products, such as mothball or urine granules or powders, have no demonstrated effectiveness in keeping these animals away. However, an
aggressive dog might work.
Are Opossums Dangerous? They look somewhat fierce, like a giant rat, and they have 50 sharp teeth in their mouth, and sharp claws. They are not particularly aggressive, but like any animal, if cornered, they
will defend themselves. They do sometimes play possum, but I've also seen them
aggressively attack. Here is a photo and story of an aggressive opossum. Best to not let
your pet after one of them. They can also spread parasites and diseases via their droppings, but overall, I would not classify them as a particularly dangerous animal.
What about opossum prevention? Yes, prevention is always a good approach. You can keep your yard clean, keep your house sealed shut so that there are no entry holes that encourage the possums from entering your attic,
and you can keep pet food indoors, because these animals are notorious scavengers. Read more of my tips on how to keep away opossums here. Sometimes you can avoid trapping possums entirely.
However, in my experience preventative techniques often fail with this animal, because it usually has several reasons to use your property as its home.
HUMANE HINTS FOR GETTING RID OF POSSUMS
- Avoid cage trapping when possible. This is stressful on the animal, and it can get hurt in a trap, or die of heat stroke or dehydration. Rather than trap, attempt to eliminate whatever is attracting the opossum to your property. Bring
pet food indoors, use fencing, seal off enticing openings under a shed or porch, etc.
- If you must trap, always set the trap in a shady area, and check it diligently every morning (they are nocturnal and usually are caught at night), and relocate the animal as soon as possible.
- Relocation is stressful, on both the new animal and the existing animals in the area. Select your relocation point carefully, in an area with abundant resources and water.
- ALERT - if you have a possum in your attic or under your house, there are likely young possums. They usually cling to the momma opossum's back, but sometimes they become separated. If you catch or exclude just the mother, there's a
chance you will strand some young inside the building. They can actually be easily trapped with small cage traps and meat-based bait like wet cat food. If you don't get them out the young in your building will starve to death, then decompose and cause an odor problem.
- Prevention is always the best when it comes to wildlife control. Be sure to keep pet food indoors, and inspect your house to make sure you have no openings or vulnerable areas on your home that allow possums inside.
Here is a photo of a female opossum with some young down a wall cavity in an attic.
Wondering how else to get rid of opossums? Unfortunately there is no magic spray or device that you can use to make them go away. Some people
try to sell predator urine, such as coyote or fox urine to get rid of possums, but that doesn't work. They also try to sell
ultrasonic sound emitters. These devices are worthless at eliminating opossums. Some old
wives' tales recommend the use of
mothballs or ammonia-soaked rags to make them leave, but I've been to countless homes where these techniques failed - biologists
know that these attempts won't work. The ONE AND ONLY WAY to take care of your problem is with trapping and removal of the animals.
If you need to find a professional trapper in your hometown, just click our comprehensive list
of hundreds of wildlife removal professionals, and you can have your problem quickly taken care of!