05 Mar How to Get Rid of Opossum
Opossums are common lawn and garden animals that can be found in the US and Canada. They are distinguishable by their white face, their sharp snouts, and their gray-striped bodies. They are known to live near wooded areas that have water reservoirs.
Perhaps the most known trait of the opossum is their tendency to play dead. They usually do this when their stress levels are high, meaning that if they will be cornered by a human, they might act dead to defend themselves. What makes it more convincing is the fact that they release a chemical through their anus to fully complete the act, the smell of the chemical being too foul for you not to believe that they’re dead. This is a natural and uncontrollable act that they do whenever their stress levels are too high.
If not stressed to that point, though, opossums can try to defend themselves by baring their sharp teeth towards humans, which may sometimes be enough to drive them away. Generally, they are defensive animals and would prefer to stay by themselves.
How can they be a nuisance?
Opossums can be a nuisance for most homeowners in both rural and urban areas. This is because they thrive mostly on people’s garbage, rummaging through every possible trash that they will be able to reach. They can even be more of a nuisance when they manage to enter people’s home and stay inside their attics.
How can you trap them?
- Opossum Traps
Opossums are trapped using metal cages that can be set up within your house. You will just need to put in a food bait inside the house and you can easily trap opossums inside. After all, they are not picky eaters and will generally eat anything that are easy to smell. Metal cages are preferred for trapping opossums as it is more humane and safe.
Place the traps near your food source or where you suspect the opossum to be living in. Examples of hiding places for opossums include your attic and underneath your porch.
After trapping opossums, you can set them free into the wild again. Make sure to reinforce your home after to prevent opossums and other pets from going back again.
Before trapping one, though, you still need to make sure that your state allows it. Some states particularly has laws against trapping wildlife and you might be fined if caught. In this case, it will be better for you to call for wildlife removal services which will make your job easier.
- Opossum Baits
Opossums aren’t really hard to bait as they eat whatever they can find, including garbage. They can be baited using fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. The last is excellent for baiting them as it can be easily smelled. Dog food is also good for attracting opossums.
- Opossum Repellents
No matter how foul something smells, an opossum will ignore it. That is why they can easily go through a house’s garbage. Peppermint oils and mothballs wouldn’t really work against them. These are often used to repel pests in general, but most of them actually hunt through garbage anyways, meaning that they have tolerance for these kinds of smell.
Instead, what you would need are devices that are electrically-activated. An example is a motion-activated water sprinkler. If you put this near your garbage bins or in the paths that an opossum will have to walk through to get inside your house, you can be sure that they will not go near your house.
To make sure that they don’t go near your house in the first place, make sure that your garbage bins are tightly shut. The smell of garbage attracts them, after all. Also, make sure to clean after the fallen berries, fruits, and feeds in your yard.
- Opossum Poisons
It is not advisable to poison any type of wildlife for the sake of humane pest control. Even if you manage to kill the opossum, you might also poison the next level in the food chain, which are the predators. Examples of predators that hunt for opossums include large eagles and foxes. They will also die if they manage to eat an opossum that was poisoned (the latter are easily hunted as they become lethargic and weak).
- Opossum Removal
Opossums can be removed from your house using traps as mentioned above. They mostly reside in the attic. They will build nests out of scraps and shredded papers.
If you think that you are too inexperienced as to capture them yourself, it would be better to call for wildlife removal services. They are experts in eradicating pests and making sure that they never visit again. Look for services near your house in the case of an opossum infestation inside your house.
Additional tip for getting rid of Opossums
- If opossums manage to enter your house and stay inside your attic, it will be better for you to take them by hand or trap them from there. Be sure to catch them quickly, though, as they can be fast and can easily hide in the parts of the room that is hard to reach.
- Opossums are easy to trap in cages as they are opportunistic feeders and will readily go to any available source of food. They also easily enter cages without hesitation.
- If you manage to find opossums and some other rodents inside your house, you must immediately look for their entry holes. After all, the fact that they entered your house shows that there might be a structural problem in your house. For example, low-lying windows and small wall cracks can be a sign. For those that cannot be covered with concrete or wood for ventilation purposes, you may try putting wires over them to make sure that rodents cannot squeeze past it.
- Opossums can also target your root crops and the likes. If you notice opossums entering your garden to steal these from you, you may try setting up wire meshes to make sure that they do not cross over. Aside from this, you may also try putting these away from where opossums usually go. This might make you safe from opossums, but other pests that can burrow underground can still be a problem for you, though.
- As mentioned above, common repellents like mothballs and predator urine are usually put by some as to drive pests away. However, most of them are actually ineffective because of these creatures’ tolerance to smell. After all, they hunt for food in the garbage, meaning that they are not picky in any way. A particular strong smell won’t bother them.
- When opossums act dead (characterized by being really stiff and emitting foul liquid from their anus), take it is a good chance to finally take the pest away from your property. After taking them far from your property, you must now start addressing the problems that may have caused them to be attracted to your lot (examples include exposed food sources, holes in the walls, etc).
Are opossums dangerous?
Opossums look really dangerous because of their large amount of teeth, their large size, and their resemblance to rats. When left alone, they are generally neutral and will not naturally attack humans that they see. In fact, most of them will try to avoid contact with humans, and in the worst case, drop to the ground to act dead. However, they can be aggressive sometimes if you happen to startle them in bad situations. It is generally not advised to make contact with any of them as you may cause them to be aggressive or you may accidentally touch them, which is a bad idea considering the amount of diseases that they carry.
For starters, opossums are not rodents. Even though they look a lot like squirrels and rats (and even behave somehow like them). They belong to the marsupials, which are animals that contain pouches on their front to carry their babies. Other animals belonging to this family are the kangaroos and wombats.
Fun fact: Opossums are known as one of the oldest animals in the Earth. Their earliest roots have been found to already exist back then since the extinction of the dinosaurs.
- Oposum lifespan
Wild opossums live up to about 2 years, which is quite short. This is because of the presence of many predators including cats and humans. They can live up to 4 years, but this length can mostly only be reached by those in captivity. The longest lifespan of an opossum recorded was 6.6 years (only one).
- Black opossum
Opossums are generally colored black. Their heads are colored white, though, and their tails are pink. The color of their face and their posture are their best distinctive features to separate them from a rat or a squirrel.
- White opossum
White opossums are generally a result of either albinism or leucism. It is not the natural color of opossums as they are animals that need camouflage in order to escape from predators in the wood. Albino opossums have red eyes and those with leucism will still have a natural color for their eyes.
- Newborn opossum
Because opossums are marsupials, they carry their babies around inside their pockets. The youngest opossums can be seen as small and pink. They are called joeys. They will need to stay inside the pockets of their parents for 50 days, after which they can attach themselves to the backs of their parents for another 50 days. After that, they can go on their separate way, their sexual maturity being achieved at their sixth up to eighth month.
This can be likened to the process of how kangaroos and koalas take care of their newborn. This is because they are all marsupials.
- Opossums skulls
Their skulls, like their heads, have pointed snouts. They also have an impressive set of 50 teeth, each of them sharp.
Opossum babies are born tiny (about the size of a honeybee). They are born pink. An average litter size for opossums are about twenty, but only about half of these remain alive.
To fully mature, these small babies climb up to their mother’s pouches through a swimming motion. If they don’t manage to do so, they will die undeveloped.
These babies need to stay inside the pouch for about 50 days, some of them leaving it sometimes in order to ride their mother’s back as the latter hunts for food. After this, the opossums leave their mothers and go on their separate ways.
Opossums live near waters in the wild. They live inside other animal’s burrow, in tree cavities, and anything with a cover. Inside houses, they prefer to live inside garages or attics where they will make messy nests out of anything that they can brush up into a pile (like newspaper shreds or leaves). They can also live behind boilers or places near your garbage.
Opossums are known for scavenging human’s garbage. This is because they have an excellent skill of separating food from that cannot be eaten.
As mentioned above, they are omnivores. Some of the foods that they commonly eat include small birds, rodents, fruits, berries, insects, and snails. They also sometimes eat dead animals.
They may also be attracted to houses that have food sources available in the open, like pet food.
They are also known to be intelligent enough as to remember places where they have stored food. This might be the reason why they always come back to garbage bins that are not properly sealed.
Possum vs opossum
The use of “possum” to call opossums are only a shortcut, but not necessarily a formal name for it. This is because there exists an animal called possum itself.
Possums are generally found in Australia while opossums are found in North America. The latter is the only known marsupial in this continent.
Opossums are known for their sharp snout, their abundance of teeth, and their white heads. Possums can be distinguished through their round ears and their round face which is far from the looks of an opossum. Their bodies are also comparable to a squirrel as their tails have fur while opossums have no fur on their tails.
Simply put, if you’re living in Australia, the people will probably talk more about possums. In North America, opossums are the one being mentioned even if the name is shortened.
Pests can easily be distinguished by their tracks. If they happen to visit your house and leave footprints, you will be able to distinguish an opossum’s by looking at the fingers. Both their hands and feet have five fingers, however, their feet will have one finger (by the thumb position for humans) that is very distant from the other fingers. It will appear to be pointing horizontally while the other four will be pointed vertically.
Pests like rats and raccoons are known to be prone to being rabid, which may pose as a dangerous threat for nearby humans. Because opossums are mostly confused to be a rodent, they are sometimes killed in order to prevent spreading rabies.
However, opossums actually rarely only contract rabies. Rabies will need a temperate host. Opossums are known to have low body temperatures and a good immune system.
This doesn’t mean that they are immune to having rabies, though, so if you see one that displays rabid behavior, immediately avoid them at all costs to avoid contracting the disease yourself.
Opossum poop is hard to distinguish from that of a dog’s as it looks normal compared to other common household pests.
Signs that tell you that it is automatically an opossum’s include 1) not having a dog in your house and seeing poop that looks like a dog’s and 2) not seeing a skunk inside your house. Skunk droppings look a lot like an opossum’s, so its absence basically tells you that the latter is inside your house. A skunk will only enter your house to take care of their babies and for warmth. They also won’t go to your attic, while an opossum will.
General opossum facts
How do you get rid of opossums in the attic?
Opossums in the attic can be removed by using traps. Do not use poison to kill them as their corpses may leave a smell that will linger in your house even after being removed. It is also more humane to simply trap them and release them outside after.
It is also a good idea to call for wildlife removal services if you aren’t skilled enough as to build a trap in your attic.
How do you get rid of opossums in your garage?
Opossums are removed from your garage with the same way with how you remove them in your attic, which is through traps. To avoid them from coming back, make sure to seal all entry points.
What do opossums eat?
They are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and meat. They eat berries, fruits, snails, dog food, etc. They are also known to go through people’s garbage to look for food.
Can opossums get rabies?
Yes, but they only do so rarely. Their low body temperatures and their strong immune system makes it hard for the virus to survive inside them. You still avoid opossums that display symptoms of it, though.
What is the difference between opossum and possums?
Opossums are generally found in North America while possums are found in Australia. Opossums have sharp snouts and white heads while possums have round ears and round faces. The latter is also colored brown while the former is colored gray to black.
Are opossums blind?
Opossums are not blind, but their night visions are limited, which is why depend on their sense of smell and hearing to hunt for food.
Where do opossums live?
Opossums live in other animal’s burrows, in tree cavities, and places near swamps and streams. Inside homes, they prefer to go attics and garages.
Do opossums carry diseases?
Opossums carry a lot of diseases, which is why you shouldn’t touch wild ones. Some of the diseases they carry around include leptospirosis, relapsing fever, and tularemia.
Do opossums hibernate?
Opossums do not hibernate. They are not picky eaters, which means that they won’t struggle to look for food sources even in the cold.
Are opossums nocturnal?
Opossums are nocturnal creatures, meaning they prefer to be awake during the night. This is the reason why garbage bins in some houses become scavenged in the night. This is also the reason why some dogs bark loudly in the night.
Do opossums have pouches?
Yes, they do. Opossums are marsupials, which means that they carry their young ones around inside their pockets. There, these baby opossums develop until they are ready to go their separate way.
Are opossums rodents?
No. Opossums are marsupials, which is a family of animals separate from rodents. They look a lot like rodents though, which is why they are often confused together.
How many babies do opossums have?
They usually give birth to about 20 babies, but most of them never survive. In most cases, only about 4 up to 8 babies survive enough as to teat and to mature.
What do you feed a baby opossum?
Orphaned opossums are fed with syringes or an eye dropper. They can be fed with a formula of sugar, water, and some salt.
It is better to call for wildlife services in your state, though, as the baby opossum may die if left orphaned in your house.
Opossum Removal Services
In the end, gaining knowledge about opossums, from their habitat, diet, and general behaviour will definitely aid you in trying to get rid of them. However, in the end, it may still be the best decision for you to call for wildlife control services.