If you frequently hear noises coming from your garbage can, then it’s probably one of many small mammal pests.
Decide to take a look and you may find that it’s a possum!
If you have a possum infestation and you have no clue how to deal with them, you’re in luck!
In this article, I’ll be giving you useful tips on how to get rid of possums.
What to Know About Possums
These marsupials are also known as opossums. They are small mammals that eat just about anything. Being omnivores, they can eat exactly the same things humans eat.
Opossums can be found in urban areas and they are used to seeing humans. They aren’t fond of attacking humans, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous.
An opossum can carry diseases such as coccidiosis, tuberculosis, leptospirosis, and toxoplasmosis.
These diseases can be transmitted to humans when they scratch or bite. A person could also contact any one of these diseases if they make contact with opossum urine or feces.
They are scavengers that go around in search for food and water, and they will pay return visits to environments that offer them what they need. An opossum is most active at night and that’s why you hardly see them during the day.
They are slow runners and they don’t see too well at night. However, they have a sharp sense of smell that guides them to locations where food might be.
They can become very problematic if they invade in twos or threes.
An opossum can breed all year round and a litter can consist of up to 9 babies. If they carve out a home in a section of your yard and breed, you will have a much bigger problem in the near future.
It takes about 12 days after breeding for the babies to be born. They crawl into their mother’s pouch and live there until they are mature enough to move on their own.
Luckily, there are several ways to get rid of them. But let us first understand what attracts them.
What Attracts Possums To My House?
To fully understand how you can get rid of opossums in your house, you need to first determine what attracts them.
They possess a keen sense of smell and can pick up the scent of food from long distances. They go around sniffing until they find the source.
Below are a few things that can attract opossums to your house.
1. Pet Food
If you’re the type that feeds your pets outside, then there are a chance opossums will sniff out the left-overs at night.
Opossums are nocturnal, so if the left-over pet food isn’t quickly disposed of from your property, or it’s left to sit out overnight, you may find that it’s gone by morning.
2. Filled Up Trash Cans
This can also attract an opossum to your property. A trash bin stuffed with all sorts of disposed of food is an invitation for opossums and other rodents to visit.
They will have easy access to the contents of the bin if it isn’t tightly sealed.
3. Partially Rotten Fruits
Some fruits may fall off your garden trees and left on the ground to rot. If they are not quickly disposed of, opossums can pick up the scent and come scavenging.
Remember, they are omnivores so they can eat fruits too. Sweet fruits are their favorites. Examples include mangos, pineapples, berries, and nuts.
How Do I Get Rid Of Possums In My Yard?
Possums are slow animals and they don’t see too well. This makes it easy to get rid of. Yet, you need to employ the right approach to do so.
I also have to mention that they possess a special skill, and that’s their ability to pretend they are dead. This means you should be careful when approaching one.
Remember, they are packed with transmittable diseases!
Below are some useful tips on how to get rid of possums.
1. Identify Them
There are several pest animals that would do the same things opossums do. Before you take any eradication measure, you need to be sure it’s actually opossums you are dealing with.
You can confirm their presence by listening closely to the sounds coming from the trash bin. If it’s fast screeching or hissing sounds, then it’s probably a possum digging through your junk.
Another way to confirm is by checking for scratch marks around your bin or walls. You should also check through any dug up holes to get a visual.
Tracks made with opposable thumbs as well as missing pet food is also a sign. Yet, you can’t be absolutely sure it’s an opossum responsible until you actually see them.
While opossums and possums are almost identical, they have a small distinction in their tails. The tail of a possum is longer and furrier than that of an opossum. All other physical features are constant.
Opossums can be found mainly in North and South America, while possums are majorly found in Australia.
They grow to a mature height of about 36 inches. This height is measured from the tip of their nose to the tip of the tail. Almost the size of a small dog.
Both possums and opossums have pointed heads and pink-colored noses. They have a set of small, sharp teeth which are 50 in number.
You can also identify them by the opposable thumbs on their back legs.
Keeping their physical features in mind, you can check around the trash bins and other holes using a flashlight. If you spot an animal that carries the above-mentioned features, then you have a possum infestation.
As you search for them, make sure you put on some protective gear. Possums may bite or scratch if they feel threatened and transmit diseases in the process.
Put on a pair of thick leather gloves and a pair of boots to spare your fingers and toes from being bitten by the pest. Also wear long pants amd long-sleeved shirts while you’re at it.
A face mask will also come in handy. This is because possums have a very foul smell.
2. Use A Live Trap
Once the pest has been identified, you can start getting rid of them. An effective way to do this is by setting a live trap on your property.
Catching and killing possums is not illegal in some states in America. Mainly because they are destructive pests that contribute little or nothing to the eco-system.
Still, you should be sure of animal trapping and killing laws in your particular state to be sure you are on the right path.
With a live trap, you can catch the animal and hand it over to animal control to do the rest. If you would like to dispose of the possum yourself, then you can do so in a humane way.
A gunshot to the head will kill the pest. But be warned, do not attempt to shoot an animal if you have no gun training!
You can make a trap yourself or buy a ready-made model. Most people prefer the former.
The trap should have bars that are strong enough to contain the animal. It should also have enough space to contain the possum.
Normally, a possum wouldn’t just stroll into the trap. You will need some bait to lure it in. Use some sweet fruits or leftover sandwiches to draw them in. You also have to be patient after you have set the trap as you may not get an instant catch.
The stronger the scent of the bait, the faster they will pick it up and head for the trap.
As they enter the trap, the spring door will shut behind them and they will be trapped without being harmed.
Using traps as a control method is effective if you’re dealing with a single opossum in your yard. This is because the trap can only take one of them at a time.
If there are more, then you will need more traps, or employ a more effective method.
Set the trap in a location they can easily access. If you’re lucky, your traps might catch other pests on your property.
If you don’t know how to set it, you can get a friend who has the experience to help you.
3. Motion Activated Alarms
This device is designed to scare off many types of pests from your property. Opossums included. It works with a sensor that picks up movements within a set range and sounds an alarm if the pest comes too close.
Just like rats and birds, possums are not brave animals and they may flee your property if they feel they are being threatened.
A motion-activated alarm is loud and chaotic, and this will keep the animals uncomfortable. Some models allow you to adjust the volume.
Make sure you install the alarm in the area where the animals are most active for the best results.
4. Use Smoke
Possums like to take residence inside burrows that are situated in moist areas. If you notice a group of these animals in a hollow log or a hole in the ground, you can get rid of them by smoking them out.
This is an unorthodox way to get rid of them, but it works. The smoke is not to be used as a form of trapping. It is only meant to drive them out.
To do this, you can gather a small pile of hay or dry grass and set it on fire. Place the burning bunch near the entrance of the hole and let the smoke do the rest.
They will become uncomfortable with all the smoke inside the hole and will have to make a move.
Survival instincts will tell them to run out of the hole, hence abandoning their home. Feeling threatened, they may look for another property to invade, but they will be out of yours.
This method of pest control is effective in removing the animals from burrows dug around your home.
Be warned though, you need to be up-to-date with your state laws regarding lighting fires. You should also inform your neighbors of your plans so they will not panic if they see smoke coming out of your compound.
Light fires safely and make sure you have an extinguisher by your side at all times.
This method of possum control may seem risky, but it is effective if proper care is taken.
5. Use Opossum Repellents
Possums hate the smell of naphthalene and ammonia but both substances are banned in most states in America. This is because they are toxic and can damage the soil.
Nonetheless, there are other repellents you can try that are perfectly legal. Commercial products made from predator urine extracts have been proven to deter possums.
A natural predator includes foxes and wolves. Possums have a sharp sense of smell and will easily recognize these scents.
Visit a pest control store near you to get a possum repellent. Spread it in areas where they are most likely to visit to repel them.
If they pick up the scent, they will assume there are predators lurking around your home and they would stay clear.
6. High-pitched Sounds
You can install ultrasonic devices in your home to get rid of these pests. One that produces a high-pitched sound that is inaudible to humans is a good choice.
These devices are usually triggered by motion and will release the sound anytime a pest comes within range.
Possums are like every other mammal pest when it comes to high-frequency noises. They hate it and that is why they make good repellents.
These devices can be installed on the ground or on the walls of your home. You can have more than one since possums are scavengers that can move around several areas of the house.
Be warned though, this control method is best suited for those who do not have pets of their own. This is because the high-pitched sound will affect them too and they may run away.
7. Animal Fur
Similar to the scent of predator urine, the smell of pet fur can also be a deterrent. Their natural instincts is all it takes to know that dog or cat fur means danger.
This is not to say you should keep your cat or dog outside all day and night. You can simply trim off some of their fur and scatter it around areas where the pests usually visit.
If you have a dog that sheds regularly, do not throw the hair away. Gather them up and scatter round too. If your pets play outside, then they’d probably shed around the areas where the pests usually visit.
8. Call A Pest Control Service
If you’re not the type to face a possum, you can hire pest control experts to do that for you.
A professional pest control service will know exactly what to do since they have a lot of experience eradicating pests of all sorts.
You will have to pay for their services though, and it doesn’t come cheap.
However, you can rest assured that a reputable pest control service will get the job done.
All you need to do is go to the internet and search for one closest to your home. A quick tip is to contact about 3 or 4 of them and compare prices before you make a final decision.
You can also contact animal control, as they have a better understanding of wild animals.
How Do You Keep Possums Away?
When you successfully get rid of possums, the next step would be to make sure they do not return to your home.
Keeping possums away isn’t that hard. As long as you are clear on what drew them in, you can take adequate steps to keep them out.
Follow these tips to keep possums away from your property.
1. Seal Off Entry Points
Possums are good climbers so they can make their way up your roof and into the attic of your home. They can also creep in through your windows and the pet doors.
For this reason, make sure you close your windows and doors at night. Install wire mesh screens as an extra precaution. They should be made of durable materials so the pests cannot chew their way through.
You should also climb up your roof and check for any breaches that may lead to the attic. If you find any, you should get wooden boards and nail them shut.
Your garden would also be a target for possums so you need to deny them access too. You can use a wire fence around your garden to keep possums away.
Lastly, if you find holes by the corners of your garden floor then you should seal them too.
Possums do not dig by themselves. They’d rather find an already existing hole to reside and breed.
When possums enter your property, they usually don’t have the intention of leaving. As long as there are spaces for them to live and breed then they will stay. The idea here is to make your environment inhabitable so they will leave.
2. Do Not Feed Pets Outside
Feeding your pets outside your home will increase the chances of possums returning. It is best you feed your cats and dogs inside to avoid having left-over pet food on your deck.
If you must feed your pets outside, be sure to clean up thoroughly after they are done eating and take the plates back inside.
3. Keep Your Trash Cans Tightly Sealed
Possums will go just about anywhere in search of food and your garbage cans are a good option. If they can gain access to the contents, they will dig in and eat up as much as they can.
They will also return for more if the garbage cans are constantly overflowing with food.
To stop this from happening, be sure to seal the trash bin tightly. Do not let any food fall on the floor when you take out the trash. Remove them if they do.
An extra tip here is to use dump the junk in a sealable plastic bag before dumping it in the bin. This will help conceal the smell of the leftover food.
Also, keep tabs on the waste disposal service near you and ensure they take the outdoor trash away before it gets full.
Washing your bin with a strong-smelling liquid soap each time it is emptied is another way to hide the smell of food and keep possums away.
They will leave if there are no more food sources.
4. Clear Out Debris
A yard filled with debris and brush piles provides hiding spaces for these pests.
As I mentioned earlier, possums do not create their own holes or hiding places. They would rather occupy one that has been built by some other pest.
If you have a pile of old wood stumps or rocks in your yard, possums will hide there.
These creatures are quite shy and wouldn’t like to be seen in the open.
Clear out all debris to remove hiding spaces and make your yard unattractive to the possums. If there are no hiding spaces, the possums will be uninterested in your yard.
5. Remove Rotting Fruits From Your Garden
Sweet-smelling fruits and nuts can attract possums. The ones that have fallen to the ground will be easy pickings for them so keep your garden free of rotten fruits.
If they start to rot, their scent will become stronger and this will attract opossums to your yard.
You need to develop a habit of raking away fallen fruits, especially the ones that have begun to rot.
A scarcity of food will make your place intolerable for opossums and they will leave.
6. Use Ultrasonic Sounds
While this control method can be used as a repellent, it can also be used to make sure they stay out for good.
An ultrasonic device produces a high-pitched sound that drives opossums crazy. They simply cannot stand it and would avoid any area with such sounds.
To ensure they do not come back in, install an ultrasonic device in your yard. The size of your premises will determine the range of the device you should buy.
The pests can come in from any part of the compound, which is why the sound should be able to cover the full perimeter. If one ultrasonic device cannot do the job, then you may need to get an extra.
The high-frequency sound cannot be heard by humans, only by pets and pests. Do not use this preventive method if you have a cat or dog as it will affect them too.
What Bait Kills Possums?
There are a number of baits that can kill a possum, although poisoning an animal is illegal in some states.
Below is a list of poisons that kill the pests.
• sodium fluroacetate
Besides being illegal, using bait to kill a possum may backfire. This is because your house pets can accidentally ingest the poison and die. It is also a bad idea to use bait if you’ve got kids in the house.
Another problem with baits is that they can also contaminate the air and soil. Poisoning birds and damaging garden soil in the process.
Baits are toxic and not recommended for use against pest mammals.
There are safer pest control methods you can use to get rid of possums. These include traps and other organic products.
What Smell Deters Possums?
There are some smells that can deter possums from your environment. Many of them are natural scents.
Let’s take a look at some of them below.
Garlic has many health benefits to humans but can cause irritations to insects and some mammal pests.
It contains organosulfur compounds which is its active ingredient. Possums hate the smell so you can use it to deter them.
Get some garlic cloves and grind them into a powdery form (you can also buy garlic powder). Pour the powder into a bowl and add some water to it. Stir thoroughly so it is well blended.
Pour the solution into a spray bottle and apply it around the possum’s hiding area. The stench will remain after the water has evaporated and driven them away.
A major advantage of using garlic as a deterrent is its non-toxic nature. It does not harm the soil and it cannot poison your domestic pets. It’s also safe to use around children.
2. Predator Urine
The urine scent of natural predators like dogs, foxes, wolves, and cats can all deter the pests.
When they perceive the odor, they would assume that the predators are lurking amd waiting to pounce on them. They will not be willing to risk staying around to be eaten by possible predators and they will leave.
There are commercially sold deterrents that contain predator urine extracts. You can get them in a liquid spray can or in granules.
Apply the urine extracts in places where the pests are most active for best results.
Ammonia is a toxic substance that has a powerful smell. Possums hate the smell and will not come close to areas with ammonia odor.
Although ammonia use has been banned in many states in America, it still remains one of the strongest smells to deter possums.
Onions belong to the same family as garlic. They produce a chemical irritant called syn-propanediol-S-oxide. This is the same chemical responsible for itching the human eye when contact is made.
Possums do not like the smell and they tend to avoid it. If you’ve noticed, the onions in your kitchen are usually unscathed after a possum attack.
You can scatter onion peels around their nests to drive them away.
Vinegar’s active ingredient is Acetic acid and it produces a smell that possums do not like.
Sprinkling some drops of vinegar in strategic locations can repel them. Be careful not to use vinegar on your plants as it can damage or kill them.
Possums can make a mess of your bin and spread diseases. It gets worse when there are many of them.
Thankfully there are traps, repellents, and other pest control products and methods you can try to get rid of them and prevent them from coming back.
If you have other suggestions that could help, feel free to share via the comment section.
I trust this article on how to get rid of possums has been of help.