How to Get Rid of Possums in Your Yard

7 ways to get rid of possums with prevention measures and the reasons of their appearance.
By
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
reviewed
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: December 29, 2022
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Possums are very helpful creatures in some ways because they can eat bugs and other pests that you might not want to have in your yard. The trouble with possums is that they can be territorial over their part of your yard, and they can be an issue if you own pets like dogs that will need to share the yard with them. They might also make a mess in your yard or eat your vegetables.

While possums are not usually aggressive, you might also want to know how to get rid of possums under your house or how to get rid of possums under your deck because they are being threatening toward pets and kids in your yard. In rare cases, possums might also move into spaces that are not commonly used in your home, and you might need to know how to get rid of possums in the attic as well.

Identification

The identification of your possum invader needs to be part of your process for removing them from your home. You will need to know which kind of possum or rodent you have living in your yard so that you can be sure to attract it with the right bait or to discourage it with the right methods. Identification is much easier than you might think, and you can easily shine a light outside at night and catch sight of the creature that you are sharing your yard with.

Possums are normally very easy to identify when compared to other rodents, but if you have not seen the creature that has moved into your yard, you might not be sure if it’s a possum or not.

Opossum or possum?

How to Get Rid of Possums in Your Yard
Possums and opossums are quite similar. First ones are typically encountered in Australia, while the second ones can be met in South or North America.

Not everyone knows that there are both possums and opossums. If you live in North or South America, you will be dealing with an Opossum living in your yard. If you live in Australia and other countries, you will be trying to remove a Possum from your yard instead. Possums are more closely related to Kangaroos, but both animals are marsupials.

Adult opossums are about 24-40 inches long with a 10-12-inch-long tail, and they might weigh anywhere from 4-12 pounds. Opossum droppings are also 1-2 inches in length and smooth, typically covered in yellowish mold growth.

What Attracts Possums to Your House

Possums are most often attracted to people’s yards by food sources. Pet food is a common culprit for attracting in possums, but they might also be drawn in by fruit trees in your garden. You will also need to be aware that unsecured garbage can cause possums to sniff out your yard. Just like raccoons and bears, possums are motivated by food that is easy to access, and that is plentiful.

Possums might also find that they can den up in areas under your home or under your deck. This can be their main goal if they have babies and they need somewhere to keep them safe. This is also the behavior that is most likely to lead to possum aggression since they might want to defend their babies from your pets or people in the yard.

Pet food

Pet food is one of the most common attractants for possums. Many people keep their pet food for outdoor animals like cats on the back porch or in the garage with the door left open. This is one of the primary items that makes possums want to come to visit your home, and if they figure out that this food source is always around, they might move in for good. Possums can also be very territorial over pet food, and they might not allow your pets access to their own food when it is put out at night or even during the day.

How to Get Rid of Possums in Your Yard
Outside pet food is one of the reasons why possums appear in your yard or house in the first place.

Trash cans

Unsecured trash cans can be an ideal place for possums to find food, and they might also bring in lots of other rodents like rats. You will want to be careful about leaving any trash out in your yard or around your home because this is one of the main attractants for pests that you would rather not share your living space with. Trash should never be left out in bags that can easily be torn open or in cans without lids.

Partially rotten products

One of the key things that possums enjoy eating and sniffing out, are rotted food items. This is why the garbage is such a big attractant to them. This is also one of the reasons that fruit trees often bring possums into your yard. Fallen fruit will ferment, and possums will scent it and come to your yard to eat it. You will need to be sure that you are cleaning up fallen fruit and that you are not leaving rotting garbage items around your home for any length of time if you want to keep possums out of your yard.

If you love composting, you might have to hold off until you have a system in place that keeps possums out of your yard. Since they are so attracted to rotting food items and plant debris, a compost pile in your yard can be a prime attractant for this kind of unwanted guest. This is a common reason for possums moving into farming areas as well, and your yard compost will be just as delightful to them as a larger composting project at a farm.

Why They Can Be Dangerous

Possums are not usually aggressive, but if they have babies or they have set up shop around your home, they might feel they need to attack pets and children that come near their hiding places or nests. They might also attack cats or dogs trying to eat food outside. Possums can also carry many diseases, as well as ticks, mites, lice, and fleas.

While you might be empathetic to the fact that the possum in your yard is just trying to be left alone, these risks often make it necessary to remove your possum invader as soon as possible. Possum bites, just like raccoon bites, carry the risk of severe infection as well as spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, and more. While they are almost never rabid, the other diseases they could carry are just as serious.

Possums are not inclined to be aggressive overall, but they have razor-sharp teeth, and their bites are very nasty. Combined with the risk for infection and disease, a possum bite is something that everyone should avoid. Pets will not fare any better than humans who have been bitten by a possum, so it is in the best interest of everyone in your family to relocate a possum that has set up residence in your yard or near your home.

Signs of Damage

Possums can cause a variety of different kinds of damage to your home or property, but usually, the most obvious signs of their presence are messes they have made. They might knock over garbage cans, break open cat food containers to get inside, or damage and consume large amounts of your garden produce. Most people notice their distinctive droppings before they notice other signs of consistent possum activity.

How to Get Rid of Possums in Your Yard
Possum damage is usually connected with the sources of food and can occur around trash cans, pet food containers and your garden.

Possums also are quite noisy when they are active and moving around, so you might hear them scrambling around, climbing, or getting into things. They can sometimes also enter the foundation or the attic of your home, and there might be scratch marks and other damage around their entry points related to their claws. They also smell quite pungent, so you might smell your possum friend even if you cannot see them.

In some cases, possums will get into a space in your home and not be able to get out. They might cause a lot of damage by trying to dig or scratch their way out of the space that they have become trapped in. This is often how homeowners realize they have a possum around their home or in their yard. Possums trapped in spaces like this should always be captured with the help of a professional as they might be quite aggressive when trapped in a small space under or near a home.

How to Get Rid of Possums Outside

There are various ways that you can get rid of possums that are living in your yard. You might have to try a combination of these solutions before you are able to get rid of your possum invader. Make sure that you are careful about applying some of these solutions if you have pets or children that also use the spaces that the possum has made into its home. Outdoor solutions are often much easier to apply than indoor solutions. You will likely need to hire someone to help you to get rid of a possum that has chosen to make your home or your porch or deck their nest. It is much easier to keep possums from ever entering your yard in the first place, and some of these solutions can keep your yard possum-free for the long haul.

Live traps

One of the most humane ways to capture possums to remove them from your yard is to invest in the best rat traps that you can get. Rat traps and other live rodent traps can be used to capture anything that is food motivated enough to climb inside the trap. This is a great way to ensure that your possum invader can be relocated to a place that is far away from your home.

You will likely want to reach out to a wildlife refuge or rescue to pick up your trapped possum so that it can be relocated to an ideal location away from your yard. If you are going to relocate your trapped possum on your own, you will need to drop it off at least 5 miles away to be sure that it will not return.

Make sure to get a medium-sized trap with two openings for the best results. You will want to place this trap on a level surface and ideally near the den location of the possum. You can use apples, canned pet food, or even fish for your bait. Make sure that your outdoor cats are kept inside while you are trying to trap your possum invader, or else you might just catch your cats over and over again.

Make sure that you check your live trap often so that you do not accidentally keep pets or other animals trapped inside without water for too long.

Motion-activated sprinklers

How to Get Rid of Possums in Your Yard

This is one of the most effective ways to discourage possums, and you can easily set up motion-activated deterrents like sprinklers all around your property. This will be less helpful if your possum invader has moved into your attic or the foundation of your home, but if they are living outside in the yard at large, this might do the trick to convince them to move out. Possums do not appreciate being frightened, and they don’t have enough natural defenses to want to stick it out in a place where they feel unsafe.

Sprinklers might not be the ideal solution in all cases as this can lead to overwatering of your yard or garden. However, if you want to keep possums from setting foot in your yard in the first place, this can be the most straightforward and simple solution to apply. Just make sure that you adjust your watering schedule to include the added water that your yard might be getting when possums show up.

Smoke

If your possum has made a burrow under your home or in a log that has a space hollowed out of it in your yard, smoking them out might be the best solution. This is best done during the daytime when they will be denned up in their burrow, and you will want to be sure that your pets are in the house while you complete this process. You will likely also need to have a trapping plan in place if you are going to chase them out of their den with smoke. They will only return to the den later once the smoke is gone if you do not catch them once you’ve flushed them out.

Ultrasonic repellents

Ultrasonic repellents are really ideal for removing lots of different pests as well as possums. This is one of the best repellents for groundhogs, and there are also products that can serve as the best ultrasonic bird repellers as well. You will get a lot of bang for your buck when you use an ultrasonic repellent to discourage rodent invaders, and this is one of the best ways to get rid of possums under mobile homes or possums in and around your house with a foundation.

This is also a really good solution for the long term. Ultrasonic deterrents will not bother people, but they will definitely keep animals away from your yard that are sensitive to their frequency. This is also a common deterrent for rats and for moles, so you might get a multitude of benefits from adding this possum deterrent to your plans.

Odor repellents

There are various different kinds of odors that possums do not like. They have very sensitive noses, which help them to find food, and their sense of smell can be used to convince them to move out of your yard or home. Capsaicin in hot peppers is a very effective odor-based deterrent, and many people have luck with peppermint spray as well. Peppermint will also make mice and rats move out at the same time as your possum. This is a natural deterrent that can be very effective, particularly if you know where your possum has made its den.

Mothballs and ammonia can also work really well, and some people swear by garlic. Anything with a really strong odor will often help discourage possums from sticking around. While these solutions can be a little bit smelly even to people, they can offer you a lot of great benefits when it comes to removing rodents of various kinds and possums from your yard.

Animal fur

How to Get Rid of Possums in Your Yard

Possums are actually quite timid, and they are not prone to staying in a location that might require that they share space with other animals that could harm them. You can gather up dog or cat fur and scatter it around your yard to help convince a possum that there are a lot of other animals in the area. This can sometimes be enough to make them want to move out and stay away.

Many people use this as a deterrent to keep other possums away even after a denned-up possum has been removed. Pet hair scattered around the yard is like a warning sign to possums that they won’t be safe if they move into your yard, and it can be quite effective. This is an ideal solution if you live in an area where there are many possums that might want to try and move into your yard.

Contact a professional

Sometimes the best way to get rid of a possum that has taken over your yard is to hire someone to trap them and remove them. Possums can be hard to capture in some yards, and some possums are more territorial than others. Hiring an exterminator can be the right choice if you are not having any luck with the other methods that you have tried.

Professional exterminators might also be able to safely relocate your possum. Not every exterminator can offer this service, but if you do not want your possum invader to be killed, you can look for exterminators that work with wildlife refuges or have their own methods of relocation once they have trapped your possum. Possums have a lot of benefits to offer to natural areas, so it might be wise to try and spare the life of your possum friend once they have been trapped and removed from your yard.

One of the key benefits that possums do offer to people and animals is that they eat ticks. This helps to control the spread of Lymes disease. In areas where there is a high instance of Lymes-carrying ticks, need to make sure that possums are allowed to be released into wilderness areas to help control this unwanted health risk.

Prevention Measures

Prevention measures need to be taken even after a possum has been trapped and removed from your home. You do not want to invite in another possum to replace the first one! Make sure that you seal all your garbage cans and that the lids cannot be easily pried off your garbage bins. You will want to fence in your backyard with a fence that is at least 4 feet high as well.

Prune shrubs and other areas that are often appealing places to burrow and to climb, and make sure that you always pick up fallen fruit from your fruit trees. Pet food needs to be kept inside and inaccessible to animals that wander up to your home in the yard. You might also need to feed your outdoor pets in an enclosed space so that there are no dishes with pet food lying around outside.

Block off entrances to spaces under your home and make sure that anywhere that might make a good burrowing location. Porches, decks, and other areas will need to be enclosed at the bottom so that it is not easy to access the foundation and the moist and cool spaces underneath.

Make sure that you do not feed the birds in your yard so much food that the feeder is overflowing. Birds can make a big mess with their eating processes as well, so the more seed that is on the ground or in the feeder, the more likely it will be that rodents will move in.

If you have chickens, you will need to pick up eggs every day and keep chickens in a coop at night. Possums love chicken eggs, and they will also kill chickens. This is one of the main attractants that bring in possums to farm locations, and you need to be sure that you do not cause an invasion due to your chicken population.

Final Thoughts

Possums can be a big nuisance if they have moved into your yard, and they might cause issues for your outdoor pets as well as small children playing in your yard. While they might be helpful with regard to cleaning up insects and other unwanted pests near your yard, they carry many diseases, and they are not very good at sharing space. It is almost always ideal to remove a possum from your yard if one has moved in, and these tips will teach you how to get rid of possums right away. Make sure that you always consider hiring an exterminator if you are not sure that you can get rid of your unwanted possum safely on your own.

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