A Guide to the Backyard Opossum.
Late at night, you hear a strange rustling in the backyard. Could there be opossums in your backyard? The family dog begins to bark inconsolably. Do you let the hound out to attack the assailant?
All sorts of questions run through your head when a midnight stalker is caught in your yard, but alas, this time it was just an opossum.
What do you do when there is an opossum in your back yard?
Learning about the Opossum:
Opossums, incorrectly called possums, are cat-like marsupials 21-36 inches long and weighing from about 4- 15 pounds. They usually have grey fur with a white face. Their long snout, dark eyes, hairless ears, and long hairless tail make them appear to be members of the rat family. But because they carry their young in a pouch, they are, in fact, marsupials.
These marsupials are nocturnal, sleeping in the day and awake at night. That is why they are not often spotted in the daytime, but instead opossums in your backyard are heard in the night.
Opossum Nesting Dens:
Opossums do not build their own dens; rather, they find existing and abandoned dens and claim them as their own. They look for old abandoned animal burrows, brush piles, woodpiles, or hollow logs and trees. If they come across a cozy spot under your backyard steps, decks, or shed, that will do just right for the nesting opossum.
While the opossum would naturally prefer to be in a woodland area, the essential factor for the marsupial is caring for the young. They need food, shelter, and water available to them. Therefore, backyards seem to be attractive, nesting places. These critters need a readily available food source, and your trash cans have just that!
Opossum Food Sources:
Opossums are omnivorous creatures. They will dine on just about anything they can get their paws on. They are excellent scavengers, picking off dead animals, small animals like chicks and snakes, insects, and plant matter. Opossums simply aren’t real picky eaters.
Are Opossums a Danger?
Opossums are not aggressive in general, but if they feel threatened, they will his and show their teeth. They can bite, but that is not their second line of defense. First, they will hiss, then “play dead.” It will only fall to its side, curl up, and open its mouth, “playing possum.”
As far as disease-carrying, they are not biters, and rarely carry rabies. But they can make a real mess of the area in which they reside.
Signs of Damage from an Opossum:
Opossums are opportunistic critters, ready to use whatever they find to suit their needs. If they take residence in your backyard, it is essential to look for signs the marsupial is creating damage to your area. Look for…
- Opened trash cans
- Overturned flowerpots and bird feeders
- Torn ductwork
- Torn insulation
- Compost piles awry
- Raided chicken coops
- Droppings inside the shed, under the steps, in the attic, and the basement
How Can I Avoid the Opossum Making a Mess of my Home?
As a homeowner, you can do things to eradicate the pest from the backyard or house. Opossums seem to be impervious to repellent smells, so that won’t work here. Wire fencing that is three to four feet in height will assist in deterring the opossum.
There are also opossum repellents that are like an electronic motion-sensor sprinkler, to chase the critter away. Those are usually the best option if you sense a problem.
Here are a few additional suggestions to opossum-proof your backyard and home.
- Avoid feeding pets in outdoor bowls.
- Keep grills clean after each use.
- Place trash cans in a garage with tight-fitting or heavy lids.
- Clean up and remove fallen fruits and birdseed feeders.
- Remove woodpiles and possible den items.
- Fix broken screens and vents.
- Trim branches that can lead to the attic.
- Secure entrances to the garage, basement, and shed.
Can You Get Rid of the Opossum?
As with any wildlife, ridding an area of animals is tricky. It takes skill, patience, and a watchful eye. There are a few things you can try when there are opossums in your backyard..
A live trap can be set if an opossum gets in the house, attic, basement, garage, or shed. The best time to try it is in late fall or early winter months before they nest for breeding. Since they are nocturnal, you will need to set the trap at night with a small smelly fish for the bait.
If you catch the critter, call a wildlife removal company, like World Class Wildlife Removal, to humanely remove the opossum and relocate it.
If all those efforts still don’t work, OR if you don’t want the headache of removing the opossum yourself…
Call the professionals at World Class Wildlife Removal to safely and humanely remove the opossums in your backyard, clean the area, and seal off any entry points for you!