Opossums are native to North and South America while the possum is native to Australia. Opossums and possums are nocturnal marsupials and therefore feel most comfortable in the dark. They spend most of the day sleeping in hollows or similar refuges and emerge after sunset to forage for food. They are generally around the size of an adult house cat. They have short legs, which are very functional. They have long claws and thumbs on their hind feet that allow them to climb wooden fences as well as brick walls and trees. Their strong feet can grab the surface of different materials enabling them to climb effectively.
Their prehensile tails can be wrapped around branches and other things to stabilize the animal while climbing. The tail can also be used for carrying things such as nesting materials. They will sometimes use their tail to hang upside down from a tree branch. Opossums are generally known to be good climbers and swimmers, especially when threatened. They can climb up trees very quickly when running from danger.
Common Possum Traits
Possums are nature’s sanitation workers. They will happily scavenge for food sometimes through garbage cans, eating carrion, small animals, insects, reptiles, eggs, plants, and garbage and enjoy the fruit which has fallen to the ground. This means they can make a mess in the yard. They can survive in some very poor conditions. The Opossum may often be seen feeding on road kills, which of course, makes the animal vulnerable being hit by a car.to also being killed.
Like all marsupials, Opossums carry their young in a pouch. They give birth after a 12-14 day gestation period, and the young will emerge from the pouch 70-125 days later. Opossums can have as many as 5-15 babies at a time, which quickly creates a problem for any homeowner if they take up residence.
Opossums have lost much of their fear of humans and will even enter a home through a pet door or open window in search of food.
Opossums generally avoid confrontation but will bare their teeth, hiss or growl or may bite if threatened. Sometimes they will exude a repulsive, smelly, green fluid from their anal glands to ward off predators or when they are threatened. They are relatively low on the animal food chain and will seek out hiding spots to keep themselves shielded and protected. Opossums really do play dead. They will flop down on their side, shut their eyes, and let their tongue hang out of their mouth to trick predators. Pet and Opossum confrontations sometimes occur, and pets are often injured when this occurs.
Similar to other wildlife, Opossums can carry viruses. They can pass these on when they scratch and bite. Some of the diseases they can transmit include – leptospirosis, coccidiosis, tularemia, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis. They are often infested with fleas or ticks, mites, and lice. For these reasons, only trained and licensed personnel should handle Opossums.
Where Do Possums Live?
Opossums love trees. They will climb a tree and will stay aloft as long as possible. They live in burrows that they fill with dry leaves or even shredded paper. Opossums are solitary animals but will share a space with other animals or take shelter in abandoned burrows, in tree cavities, and beneath other dense covers. They will remain in a location as long as food and water are readily available.
In urban and suburban areas, they often den under steps, porches and garden tool sheds Opossums will occasionally make their homes in attics and roofs. They make an untidy nest of sticks and whatever else may be available. Opossums particularly like making their homes near water sources like ponds, swamps, and drainage ditches.
How To Get Rid Of Opossums
By taking a few precautions, it is possible to deter Opossums from visiting for too long. Opossums have successfully adapted to human environments and can quickly become nuisance animals in urban and suburban settings. They will often disturb pets and create a racket outside while going through garbage. To help deter Opossums that want to come into your yard, make sure you pick up pet food at night, keep lids on garbage cans, and close potential entrance points to your place. Opossums are attracted to odorous trash cans, uncovered compost heaps, and other containers that may be left outside. Possums can only jump about 1m high and cannot climb sheer walls, so a 1.5m tin fence will help keep possums out. Alternatively, other modifications can prevent Opossums from climbing over existing fences. Some adaptations of electric fences have been successful preventative measures also.
To help keep Opossums out of fruit trees, cut lower branches away from the ground and cover the trunk with heavy plastic sheets secured with duct tape. This will prevent the animal from climbing. A cut-up plastic trash can will also work.
As well as searching for possible food sources during the mating season, opossums can also be looking for safe, dark, and warm places to raise their young. They will look for cavities in cellars or attics and spaces under a porch, deck, or shed. Be sure firewood is stacked tightly, leaving no significant gaps suitable for a den or a place to hide.
Preventing access is the most effective way of controlling damage caused by Opossums nesting in a roof cavity. Block all possible entry points to the roof or attic with sheet metal, or wire netting. Remember, opossums can rip off some materials easily with their claws. If you have seen a possum entering via a particular entry point, you will need to wait till after sunset to block that hole. A fairly easy way to ensure that the unwanted animal has left is to sprinkle a smooth layer of flour just in front of the entrance point so you can then track the animal’s footprints. If you have trapped a possum inside, you will hear its noisy attempts to escape.
Another preventative measure to keep Opossums out is to put chicken wire along the entire outskirts of your yard. The only problem with this is that it will need to be about four feet high and could be quite a costly exercise. Some success has been achieved at keeping possums away by setting up motion activated sprinklers or lights. These tend to startle them.
How To Get Rid Of Opossums
The best thing to do if you have a possum invasion in your yard is to call on a wildlife control company or professional. There are legal means to control Opossums, and the methods are similar to those for skunks or raccoons. Some regulations can prohibit the relocation of this wildlife. Check to ensure there are no municipal or county restrictions pertaining to the removal of these animals before taking action.
An array of chemical products is marketed for repelling various wildlife species.
Repellents affect one of the animal’s senses – either taste, smell, or hearing. The scent of a natural enemy will cause fear. Electronic repellers repel animals with a flashing light, sound, or water.
It is possible to purchase predator urine repellent to deter possums. Natural fox urine is very useful, but avoid contact with your hands as the smell will stay with you for a while. It is best applied to plants or applied to a given area needing protection from the possum, to create an invisible odor barrier. Repellent placed at the base of a tree could warn the possum not to climb that tree.
Opossums are not wary of traps, which may be an effective way to get rid of these animals. They can easily be caught with a box or cage-type trap. These can be set along trails of known routes. Fish-flavored canned cat food works well as a trap bait but may also inadvertently trap cats or other unsuspecting animals. As an alternative, raw chicken eggs or jam or peanut butter spread on bread is effective. Other baits can include overripe fruit such as grapes, bananas, and melons. Bear in mind that you will still have the problem of disposing of the animal should your trapping be successful.
What smells do possums hate?
Possums generally do not like the smell of household ammonia, mothballs, or naphthaline chrystals. These animals don’t like the pungent smell released by such things. A reasonably high concentration may be needed as well as regular application to be effective. Be wary as such remedies are not legal or recommended by many authorities because of their ability to build up toxins in the soil.
Granule shakers are available as possum repellent. This type of repellent contains ingredients such as black pepper, peperine, and capsaicin (hot pepper extract) and has the added bonus of being safe for use around pets and children. These granules provide an annoying smell for the possum as well as discomfort if the repellent is stepped on.