Opossums: A roadkill
and canned cat food diet?
Opossums (possums) are night creatures
about the size of a house cat. Possums wander and wander some more, changing locations every 2 or 3 days looking for food and water…so they are rarely long-term pests. In fact, they are rarely pests at all.
Why they become pests
But because they love earthworms, tomatoes, corn, garbage, pet foods and fruit on trees, they can demolish plants in gardens, eat that plum (you waited so long for it to ripen), and rip up manicured lawns looking for worms. Opossums favorite food is roadkill, and in that process of feeding, many become roadkill quickly themselves.
Your swimming pool is an opossum death trap
And where do opossums find an easy supply of water to drink? Your swimming pool. As they drink…opossums, for some unknown reason, fall into the swimming pool…and if they can’t get out…they drown. So if you like opossums, a few ideas to save them from drowning.
- GIVE A OPOSSUM A RAFT TO FLOAT ON: If you float a board or two in your pool each night, the opossum will have something to climb onto and wait for your rescue. That rescue is a work of art that you will have to think about to make it successful. But you have saved the opossum. Good work… you can say to yourself as she ambles off into the woods.
- GIVE A OPOSSUM A LADDER TO CLIMB OUT: Anything that an opossum can grab onto to climb out will work…maybe a board…or a net…or a commercial ramp…but the ladder has to be attached to the side of the pool so that as the opossum claws its way to safety…the ladder won’t slip backwards and so the opossum can slip very slowly away into the woods.
So an opossum may not be a pest in the usual sense we think about, but dragging and burying or trashing that carcass is a problem that puts them into the pest category.
Possums have a lot of natural enemies but not rattlesnakes because for some reason, they are immune to their venom.
They “play possum” when frightened which can last up to 4 hours…a very long time…during which many are killed unintentionally because the homeowners believe they have a dead animal to deal with and they bag it and put it in the trash. They really do a good job of pretending.
So if an opossum becomes a pest
- Get a dog.
- Purchase a commercial fox or coyote urine mix and spread it around. Available locally.
- Purchase a commercial sticky mixture locally designed to get on their feet and really hassle them so they avoid your area next time.
- Purchase a commercial odor repellent made from Castor oil intended for small mammals.
- Cover your garbage cans at night.
- Trim all branches at least 24″ from your roof.
- Put a screen on top of your chimney.
- Close pet doors and do not leave pet food out overnight.
- Fence them out. An electric fence will help, and be sure to fence the chick or bird coop, and the bottom of your fruit trees.
- Pick up fruit that fell from your fruit trees.
- Loud noises scare them, but since you would have to do it at night, you better live miles from your neighbor.
POISONS: There is no approved poison for opossums.
SHOOTING: Second in popularity to live trapping is shooting them.
TRAPPING: Baiting the trap is easy…canned cat food.
- Live trap and relocate: Transport and release it 20 miles away if legal to do.
- Live trap and shoot or drown while in trap: Remove it, bag it, trash it, or bury it.
Call a professional to trap and remove the opossums.