Discouraging Opossums from Your Yard

...although we don’t know why you would want to...


Opossums regularly consume insects, snails, worms, rats, mice, and carrion. One study looks at the amazing ability of opossums to eliminate 96.5% of the ticks it encounters. "Thus, opossums in the host community serve as ecological traps for larval ticks, concentrating large numbers of larvae and then consuming them before they can feed and molt into nymphs." They can actually help keep your yard free of these pests, and in the case of ticks, reduce risk to Lyme Disease.

They are far less of a health risk to you or your children or pets than nearly any other wild animal. By eliminating the opossums, you may create a niche that will be filled by a less desirable species. Rabies and viral diseases (e.g., distemper) are practically unheard of in the opossum.

They are exceptionally non-aggressive and non-destructive. They will not dig up your lawn, chew wood or wires, or create burrows. They do not "attack" anything that is not a food source, and is not threatening them. If you keep prey animals such as birds, rodents, or rabbits, you must keep them secure in their enclosures from any wild animal. 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 they are the ones 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 very unusual for them to be the culprits of any damage to property or lawns.

Tips and Tricks:

These are some things that attract opossums to a particular area, and ways to discourage them if desired. These suggestions may also be valuable for discouraging other wildlife from your area:
  1. Food source – Keep garbage covered. What about pet food? Bring cat and dog food in at night. Do you have fruit trees? If so, you may have to keep the fallen fruit picked up. If the opossums are eating under the bird feeder, you may have to stop feeding birds for several weeks. Compost pile? Cover any scraps with LOTS of grass clippings or leaves.

  2. Hiding places – you may have to clear shrubbery or brush to make the area less inviting.
  3. Security – 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 *like* darkness. This is one of the most effective things you can do.
  4. Easy access is there a fence? A "run" or path that they use often? You could try blocking those routes. Barriers might include branches or small temporary fences that make it hard for them to get through.
Repellents:

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