FAQ – Problems with opossums

Can Native Animal Rescue send someone to remove an opossum from under my house?

Native Animal Rescue specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured, sick and orphaned wild animals only. We do not rescue healthy animals. A list of humane solutions is provided below.

I have an opossum living under my house. How can I get it to leave?

Patience is a virtue. It is best if you can wait until the non-breeding season (usually October to December) before sealing an area in order to give the opossum family a chance to leave. If you’re serious about excluding the opossum, you must be prepared to immediately repair the access holes after you confirm the opossum and its babies have departed

  • First you must locate the access hole(s) the opossum is using to get under or into your house, or under your deck. Check all vent screens.
  • Then purchase and have the material handy to replace or repair screens, stucco, wood or other material that is in disrepair.
  • Wad up and lightly stuff newspaper in the access hole.   Sprinkle a layer of flour around the entrance.
  • Wait for the opossum to leave at night. Opossums are nocturnal and will leave shortly after sundown to hunt for food.
  • Check frequently for the newspaper to have been pushed out and for tracks in the flour leading away from the hole to ensure the opossum has left.
  • If you see tracks returning to the hole then do not seal; there is an animal under your house.
  • Once the opossum leaves, seal the entrance thoroughly if you cannot immediately complete the repair.
  • Now it’s time to complete the repairs to the access holes.
  • Remember, if an opossum is accidentally sealed in you will end up with an awful smell and additional expense removing the seal, removing the body, and then resealing the access hole.

I have opossums in my yard. How can I get them to leave?

Nothing. Leave it alone. Enjoy watching wildlife in your own backyard! Opossums are beneficial: eating the harmful, unwanted pests around your home such as snails, slugs, spiders, cockroaches, rats, mice and snakes. Think of the opossum as your free gardener. The opossum is known as “Nature’s Little Sanitation Engineer” for a good reason!

If you still want to discourage the opossum from occupying your yard, here are the most effective ways to reduce visits:

  • Eliminate all food sources such as pet foods, birdseed, rotting fruit on the ground, etc.
  • If your pets must be fed outside, remove all food at night.
  • Fasten the lids of trash containers securely with bungee cords or rope.

Can I trap and relocate an opossum that’s in my yard or under my house/deck/garage?

Many people believe that trapping and relocating wildlife is a humane solution to a problem they are having with a “nuisance animal.” It sounds like a good idea, but the sad truth is that live-trapping and relocation rarely ends well for wildlife, nor is it a permanent solution.

Following are reasons that this is not an effective way of dealing with wildlife.

  • It doesn’t solve the problem. As long as the attractant remains (food, shelter or water) other animals will move in. Removing the source of what is attracting an animal to your yard is a far more efficient way to discourage wildlife in your yard.
  • Trapping and relocating wildlife creates orphans. You may be removing a mother animal that has helpless babies relying on her return to the den.
  • A trapped wild animal may injure itself trying to get out of the trap. Teeth, claws and limbs are often broken or injured in an animal’s effort to escape a trap.
  • Animals moved to another location do not know where the food and water sources are which can result in starvation and death.
  • The territorial disputes can result in serious injuries and death when a relocated wild animal is placed in the territory of another.
  • You may inadvertently spread disease by relocating a sick animal to a healthy population.
  • If you remove an animal out of its territory you have opened up a territory for another to move in. The food and nesting habitat once used by the trapped animal are now available to other animals. If trapping and relocating the animals creates too many voids, pregnancy rates and the number of young born per litter will increase in order to fill the voids and take advantage of the available resources. This ultimately results in a population increase.

I’ve caught an opossum in a “have-a-heart” trap. Can Native Animal Rescue come and pick it up?

Native Animal Rescue specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured, sick and orphaned wild animals only. We do not rescue healthy animals. But here’s what you can do.

  • You must release the opossum as soon as possible and as close to where the trap was placed.
  • Prop the door open so when you move away, the door will remain open for the opossum to walk out.
  • If you are setting traps to remove wildlife from your yard, please see Trapping and relocating isn’t the best solution.
  • If you are setting traps to catch a feral cat, make sure the traps are not set during the night when you may inadvertently capture an opossum.

But, what if…?

If you’ve tried everything you can think of to humanely deal with the animal causing problems on your property, it might be time to call one of the local pest control services that uses humane methods to remove the animals from under, over, inside your home, garage, or deck.

An excellent resource for understanding opossums is the Opossum Society of the United States.