YIKES! THERE IS AN OPOSSUM!  WHAT DO I DO? 


Nothing. Leave it alone.
It will move on. If it seems injured or orphaned then read the section on "What to do if an injured or orphaned opossum is found". Opossums are beneficial: eating the harmful, unwanted pests around your home such as snails, slugs, spiders, rats, mice and snakes.

 

Do not trap.
Opossums are normally transient animals, staying only 2-3 days in an area before moving on. Removal is neither necessary nor desirable. If opossums were eliminated from an area, the population of roof rats and other pests would proliferate.

Opossum proof your environment:
If you find an opossum continues to return to your area, try eliminating the things that are attracting it.

  • DO NOT leave pet food out at night.

  • Pick up fallen fruit.

  • Clear away bushes, woodpiles and other hiding places.

  • DO NOT leave garage doors open at night.

Oops! An opossum got into my house. Now what?

In the house or garage:
An opossum can be safely trapped by leaning an empty, tall kitchen trash can at approximately a 3O-45 degree angle against something the opossum can climb onto. Place cat food or ripe fruit at the bottom of the trash can. The opossum will be able to climb into the trash can but will not be able to climb or jump out.  Immediately take the trash can outside. Tip the can on its side and the opossum will leave when it feels it is safe. This is best done at dusk. If it has to be done during the day tip the opening towards a dense shrub where the opossum can hide until nightfall. You can also try to leave a trail of cat food leading out to an open door. Observe quietly at a distance. Once it leaves, shut the door.  Don't try to push the opossum out with a broom. The frightened animal will freeze and not move.

In an attic or under a deck:
Wait for the opossum to leave at night. Sprinkle flour around the entrance to check for tracks to ensure the opossum has left. Once it leaves seal the entrance. Make sure there are no young left behind before sealing.

In your yard:
Leave it alone. If it is in your garden it is helping you by serving as your free gardener, eating the harmful pests that do damage. Opossums prefer to eat overripe, rotting fruit that has fallen from trees.  You probably would not want to eat this fruit. Keep opossums out of trees by cutting branches near walls fences, roof and the ground. To discourage climbing, wrap the tree trunk with heavy plastic or metal sheet or cut out sides of a large plastic trash can.

 Cool! Now, how can I help opossums?

  • Join the Opossum Society of the United States.  Raising infant opossums and rehabilitating injured opossums is expensive. We rely on donations and membership dues to cover the rising costs of food and veterinary care. WE NEED YOU!

  • Keep pets indoors or in the garage at night. If not possible then place an 8 inch diameter, 5-6 foot long PVC pipe in the yard so an opossum can escape from a dog. Many opossums are injured or killed by dog attacks.

  • Give opossums a brake! Be alert for wildlife crossing the road at night. Drive slower. If you see a dead opossum on the road, pull over, and if safe to do so, move the opossum to the side of the road. Check the pouch for any living infants.  If infants are found then seek immediate assistance.

  • An opossum may drink out of a pool or spa and fall in. Unless it is able to get out it will drown. Help by covering pools at night. If uncovered then drape an anchored towel over the side of the pool so the opossum may pull itself out. Leave a bowl of water nearby so the opossum does not have to drink out of the pool.


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