How to get rid of Opossums

how to get rid of opossums didelphimorphia

Being a marsupial animal found only in the Americas, the opossum has become a pest in those areas, due to its flexible diet and reproductive habits that make them successful colonisers and survivors in diverse locations and conditions. They are considered a nuisance due to the fact that they feed on plants, carry disease and are prone on destroying property. They are scavengers that have a well-adapted immune system, can climb and swim very well, and are nocturnal. These traits help in making them the nuisance they are for home and crop owners.

how to get rid of opossums didelphimorphia

Signs of infestation

Same as raccoons, opossums have opposable thumbs, which help them in their resourceful ways of searching for food, as they are bale to open trashcans and scratch their way through inside decks, attics and other places that offer them shelter. Besides their actual sighting in your attic, basement or yard, you can also recognise their presence due to some signs they leave behind. When you are looking for such signs of damage done by opossums, you can take into consideration:

  • Pilfered trashcans, flowerpots, compost and bird feeders
  • Stolen fruits and berries
  • Raided chicken coops (stolen eggs or chickens)
  • Torn insulation or chewed on cables
  • Nesting in the attic, basement or other crawl spaces
  • Opossum tracks and droppings

In case you notice any of these on your property, it is time to take action against these intruders. The first thing that you need to do, in order to drive opossums away from your property, is to establish what attracts them here, in the first place, and then remove those attractants.
Being scavengers, opossums will raid your yard for food and shelter, and as they are very resourceful creatures, and they can eat any type of plant or animal matter available, pretty much anything they can find in your yard can be an attractant to them. For shelter, they prefer shady, dry areas, such as under a deck, in the attic, or under bushes and wood piles. In order to make your yard an inhospitable environment for them, you will need to:

  • clean up any fallen fruit or birdseeds from the bird house
  • secure garbage cans with tight-fitting lids
  • often clean trash cans and avoid having leaked liquids out of them
  • feed your pets inside, or if not possible, remove any leftover food after they have finished
  • avoid keeping woodpiles under which opossums can find shelter
  • keep compost in covered compost containers
  • remove any food and beverages remained after an outdoor meal or barbecue
  • trim trees and bushes or any vegetation that is close to your house and can help opossums gain access to your attic
  • mow tall grass
  • remove wood piles or other debris from your yard
  • close entries to sheds, garages, basements or chicken coops
  • fix any broken screens, vents or other openings through which opossums can gain access into your home.

Getting rid of opossums can be done through several means, depending on their location on your property and the level of damage that they are causing.

Traps for Opossums control:

Traps are used to monitor or reduce the population of insects or other pests. They can be used against crawling, flying insects, mice, rats, cats, dogs, snakes or other pests. Mechanical traps are ideal for catching these pests, as they can be used repetitively.

Trapping opossums is one of the most effective ways of getting rid of them. Especially if they are hidden inside your house, by baiting a trap and luring them inside, you can manage to catch and remove the pest and avoid it causing any other damage to your property. By using a live trap, you will be able to relocate the pest, once caught, and you can use the trap again, if needed.
The best time for using traps is in the late fall or early winter, before the breeding season begins, as you do not want to catch the mother and leave babies to die of hunger, hidden somewhere in your attic or under the deck. You will also need to establish an area often frequented by the pest, or one that has suffered from damage the most, and place the trap near it. If opossums are living in your den, shed or attic, place the trap in the middle of the room. If they are located under a deck or porch, or they have their den inside a hollow tree, you can place the near the entrance of the den. Make sure you always place it on a levelled surface, and try to keep it out of direct sunlight, to avoid overheating the trapped animal.
The next step is baiting the trap, and you can use multiple foods to do so. As they are nocturnal animals and mostly rely on their powerful smell, you can use baits such as small fish, canned pet food, aniseed oil on bread or even apples. Make sure you also wear gloves when handling the trap, as you need to avoid transferring your scent to the bait and the trap. Set the trap just before nightfall, as that is when they will come out of their den in search for food.
Once set, check your trap from time to time, to make sure you are not neglecting the animal caught, as being trapped for a long period will only make it more anxious and vulnerable. Wear gloves when removing the trap as well, to avoid the opossum scratching you, and relocate it away from your property, depending on the laws in your area.
You can cover the trap with a cloth, to keep the animal calm during transportation, and in case you have not caught anything during the first try, make sure to close the trap until your next use, to avoid catching a different daytime critter or even a stray pet.


The use of repellents can also be an effective way of keeping opossums out of your property, especially when not dealing with a large infestation. Whether they are natural or chemical, repellents based on strong smells can do the trick and help you transform your yard into in inhospitable place for these pests.

Using ammonia and mothballs is the most common household chemical way of deterring opossums. By scattering moth balls near their den, or by pouring some ammonia in a mug and placing an old rag in it, to help disperse the fumes, you will be able to create a strong scented environment, that the opossums will want to avoid. Be careful where you use this method, as the fumes from ammonia and moth balls can be quite toxic, so you need to avoid having children or pets near the area.
By using solutions based on predator urine, you can also deter these pests away. Their main predators are foxes, so by sprinkling granules based on fox urine around the yard, onto flowerbeds and in sheds, you can create an inhospitable environment and also avoid the use of poisons or chemicals.
It is said that scattering crushed garlic or pet hair gathered from your cat or dog, can also act as a natural repellent against opossums. The strong smell of garlic or the potential presence of a predator can also scare the pests away.

Repellents can also come in the form of motion activated sprinklers. You ca place them around your house and face them towards the areas where you have noticed the most opossum activity. With motion activated sprinklers, you can protect certain areas of your house or garden, so you can place them around the perimeter of your property, at entryways, next to the trash cans or in front of opossum’s burrows. Once it will sense activity, the device will start releasing bursts of water in the direction the activity is coming from. This will frighten the pests and make them seek shelter in an area away from these devices. Motion activated lights installed on porches can also work, as they scare the nocturnal critters, however, the water sprinklers are more powerful and able to startle adult opossums as well. Being scavengers, they are not so much affected by foul smells or tastes, but by scare tactics, such as this one.


The building of a fence around your property or an area that you wish to protect from opossums can also be a method of keeping them away. Although they are very skilled climbers, a fence that is installed properly can manage to keep them at bay. A proper fence should be made out of woven wire fencing and be at least 1m high. You will need to bury the fence at least 15 cm as well, in order to avoid having the opossums pass through underneath it. Creating an outward angle at the top of the fence can make it more difficult to tackle for the opossums. Electrical fencing can also be used, but you need to be careful when installing it, if you have children or pets in the area.
You can also use steel mesh or sheet metal to cover up any open spaces underneath porches, staircases or other crawlspaces.

A combination of these control methods, together with methods of prevention should get you rig of an infestation in no time. By employing only one particular method, the results can be slower and not so satisfying, but by covering multiple areas and options, an opossum infestation can be resolved quickly. Removing attractants is also important, as even if you manage to get rid of this generation, a different one can take over the property, if you are still providing valid food and shelter sources. Make sure you are able to prevent any further infestations by applying the methods shown in our related article, where you will be able to learn more about ways in which you can ‘Prevent infestation with Opossums’.

Got a question?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *