Opossums are unique animals, being the only marsupials in North America. They are nocturnal, and will frequently “play dead” in the face of danger. Don’t assume a motionless, drooling opossum in your garbage can is dead. Gently tip the can on its side, and allow the opossum several quiet hours to leave the can itself.
Opossums regularly consume insects, snails, worms, rats, mice, and carrion. They can actually help keep your yard free of these pests.
They are far less of a health risk to you or your children or pets than nearly any other wild animal. Rabies and viral diseases (e.g., distemper) are practically unheard of in the opossum.
Opossums are exceptionally non-aggressive and non-destructive. They will not dig up your lawn, chew wood or wires, or create burrows. They do not bite anything that is not a food source or anything that is not threatening them.
Adult cats and adult opossums generally get along together, or ignore one another. Dogs are a serious threat to opossums, but not vice versa.
Just because you see an opossum around does not mean that it is the animal causing your trouble. Opossums are much less secretive than animals that cause damage, and you are more likely to see them, when it is actually another animal doing the deed. It is very unusual for them to be the culprits of any damage to property or lawns.
Discouraging Opossums In Your Yard
Remove Food Sources
Keep garbage cans covered with secure lids.
Bring cat or dog food inside at dusk.
Keep fallen fruit from fruit trees off the ground.
If you have a compost pile, insure that it has a secure lid, and cover any scraps with a generous amount of leaves and clippings.
Minimize Hiding Spaces and Habitat
You may have to clear low-lying shrubbery or brush to make your yard less inviting to opossums. Install trellis or grate material around the sides of porches or decks to eliminate denning areas for opossums under these structures.
Keep your yard well lit all night. Do this for quite awhile so that transient opossums will not consider your property attractive. Being nocturnal, they are most comfortable in the dark. This is one of the most effective things you can do.
Fences are sometimes effective in keeping opossums out of specific areas; however, opossums are excellent climbers. You could try blocking any path or route normally traveled by opossums in your yard. Barriers might include branches or small temporary fences that make it hard for them to get through.
Mixtures made with food items such as peppers and onions may be cooked and strained, and used with a standard garden sprayer around perimeters and other areas you wish to discourage animals from visiting.
Success has been reported to encourage animals to leave a particular place by placing lights or a radio during the day when the animal is trying to sleep, if they are denning on your property. Flashing Christmas lights are particularly effective.
If there is one particular place that you wish to discourage the animal from coming to, you may try this: Puncture a coffee can in various places, and place rags soaked in ammonia inside. Put the lid on the can and place it in the desired area. Use several if necessary, and replenish the ammonia daily. DO NOT USE AROUND BABIES!
If gutters or other vertical surfaces are being climbed, you can try covering them with an 18" high length of sheet metal, or covering them with vegetable shortening up to an 18" height to make them slippery.
Trapping and relocating wildlife is not a humane or effective solution. Click here to learn more about why you should not trap and relocate wildlife.