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Possum / Opossum Control
There are many animals that somehow find their way into your garages, homes, and yards. Often times, they get confused or lured in by a constant shelter or food source. Opossums fall into this category. While they are normally known for their ability to play dead or “play possum” if you will, these critters are usually harmless and only cause problems when they get into your garage or home. However, they are usually treated the same way as other nuisance animals (like raccoons and squirrels), but knowing their habits, preferences, and life cycle, you will know how to get rid of opossums on your property.
How to Get Rid of Opossums
There are a few steps you need to take when trying to get opossums out of or away from your home. As with most nuisance animals, habitat modification, exclusion, and trapping are the main three things you should employ for opossum control.
• Habitat modification: Often, food sources are the cause of the problems. Don’t leave any pet food outdoors, remove spilled birdseed, and make sure your garbage cans are sealed completely. Reduce shelter sources for the opossums by removing brush and trash piles and storing wood away from buildings and off the ground.
• Exclusion: Repair and seal any possible entry points to your home with mesh, foam, or caulk materials. Make sure your shed or garage has no entry points for these animals, and under decks and outdoor stairs should be sealed as well.
• Trapping: Opossum trapping can be an effective way to remove the animal from the area. Using an appropriately sized possum trap is very important. In many states, there are laws in place for trapping animals; most of the time you must live-trap the animal and it must be relocated quickly. In some cases opossum removal may be illegal, and you may have to call animal control to get the animal removed safely. If you choose to trap the animal yourself, using cat food, cheese, meat, fish, or fruit work well for bait.
See also: Animal Traps
Opossum identification and life cycle
Opossums are the only marsupials in North America. They are about the size of an average housecat, about 6-15 pounds and 24-33 inches long from nose to tail. They have white fur tipped with gray or black, with tails about the same length as their bodies. Opossums breed in late January and early February, with about 1-2 litters a year with about eight young. The baby opossums are born after 13 days after mating occurs and are only about the size of a bumblebee, continuing to develop in the mother’s pouch.
Opossum habits and habitats
Opossums are omnivorous, and eat insects, fruits, worms, bird eggs, amphibians, green vegetation, but mostly carrion. They are nocturnal animals, and are solitary unless they are raising young. These marsupials have a wide range of preferred habitats, from wooded to open fields and dry or damp areas, but usually prefer to be near a water source (like a stream or river). Generally shy and passive, opossums will bare their teeth, hiss, and make sounds and growl when threatened. If this defensive mechanism doesn’t work, they will play dead. Many people are concerned that opossums are dangerous, but they are not aggressive unless they have rabies.
Opossums don’t cause extensive damage, but can often get into garbage, bird feeders, and pet food. They often take shelter in woodpiles, sheds, decks, and porches and startle people when they are discovered.
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