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
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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
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
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
1) They have taken up residence under a porch or
2) They are stealing garbage, pet food, or harassing
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
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
an oppossum by hand, especially if it's
confined to a small area, such as in
a wall or inside the house
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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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!
Read more articles about opossums:
Do possums hibernate?
Do Opossums Make Good Pets?
How To Keep Opossums Out Of My Garden
How To Keep Opossums Out Of Your Garbage Cans
How To Find And Remove A Dead Opossum
How To Use One-Way Exclusion Funnels To Remove Opossums
What Diseases Do Opossums Carry?
Do possums dig holes or burrow underground?
Is An Opossum That Is Active During The Day Sick Or Rabid?
What Kind Of Damage Do Opossums Cause In An Attic Or Under A House?
Do possums climb well?
Will The City Or County Animal Services Help Me With An Opossum Issue?
What if you are bitten by an opossum
Should I Feed A Baby Opossum I Found?
What attracts opossums?
Do possums attack cats, dogs, or other pets?