How to Get Rid of Possums From Your Property

Possums, also known as opossums, can be a nuisance if they take up residence on your property. Here is an in-depth guide on effective and humane methods for getting rid of possums.

Understanding Possum Behavior

Before removing possums, it’s important to understand their habits and behavior patterns:

  • Possums are nocturnal and most active at night. They sleep during the day tucked away in dark, secluded areas.
  • They are solitary creatures that forage alone at night. Males in particular avoid each other outside of breeding season.
  • Possums are opportunistic omnivores. They eat insects, snails, rodents, berries, overripe fruit, pet food left outdoors, and human garbage.
  • Possums are wanderers by nature and don’t normally “set up camp” permanently in one area. They den in a variety of places as they roam nightly.
  • They prefer quiet, dark areas near food sources, such as thick vegetation, woodpiles, decks, sheds, and attics.
  • Mother possums may den with young in nests for their first 2-3 months before young start wandering alone at night.
  • Possums are adept climbers and can climb trees, fences, decks, rooftops, and more. They have gripping fingers and a long prehensile tail.
  • Possums primarily use their keen senses of smell and hearing to navigate and detect threats since they have poor eyesight.

Why Remove Possums From Your Property

While possums help control insect and rodent populations, there are reasons you may want to remove them from your yard or home:

  • They can damage gardens and landscaping as they forage at night.
  • Possums get into garbage, spread it around, and make a mess.
  • Their droppings may contain diseases transmittable to humans and pets.
  • They can inhabit and dirty sheds, decks, attics and other areas. Their urine and scent glands give off a strong, musky odor.
  • Possums carry fleas, ticks and mites that can spread to your home and yard.
  • They make eerie vocalizations like hisses, growls and screeches. Noises at night are disturbing.
  • Possums may rarely transmit rabies if they are infected and bite a person or pet.

If possums take up residence in your home, it is especially important to remove them as soon as possible.

Methods to Get Rid of Possums

There are several effective methods to remove possums from your yard or home humanely and legally. It often takes an integrated pest control approach.

Exclude Possums From Your Home

Blocking possum entry points into your home is the first vital step:

  • Inspect the exterior of your home and look for any openings wider than 4 inches. Possums can fit through very small gaps.
  • Seal openings with wire mesh, caulk, wood, metal flashing, or concrete. Prioritize openings near roof lines where animals climb.
  • Pay particular attention around the roof, eaves, attic vents, foundations, and underneath decks or porches. Use wire mesh to close up crawl spaces.
  • Trim back tree branches overhanging the roof. Prune any vines growing on walls that may allow access.
  • Make sure all ventilation grates and louvers have mesh screens and are in good repair.
  • Check the interior as well for openings they could push through, like around attic doors or in the ceiling.
  • Fix torn window screens that could allow entry. Keep garage doors closed.
  • Clean up clutter like piles of wood or debris near the foundation that provides shelter.

Tip: You may need professional help sealing some problem access points properly.

Use Repellents

Certain strong scents and substances deter possums from an area:

  • Sprinkle granules made from dried blood meal around the perimeter of your yard or garden beds. The smell repels them.
  • Apply ammonia-soaked rags around potential entry points or den sites. Reapply frequently.
  • Spray diluted urine from predators like coyotes, foxes or bobcats around. It mimics warning scent markings.
  • Use motion-activated sprinklers to startle and frighten away possums at night with bursts of water.
  • Set up ultrasonic pest repellers that emit high-frequency sounds possums dislike.
  • Smear Vaseline or sticky tree tanglefoot around places possums climb to make them avoid it.

Caution: Avoid using harmful chemicals, especially if pets or children are present.

Install Lights and Sounds

Possums prefer darkness and quiet areas. Installing lighting and noisemakers makes areas less attractive:

  • Install bright, motion-activated spotlights and floodlights around your home and yard.
  • Use solar-powered or battery-operated motion detector lights if you lack outdoor electrical outlets.
  • Place radios tuned to talk radio stations near den sites. Leave them on at night to disturb possums with voices and noise.
  • String ping pong balls on fishing line to create noise when swayed by wind around gardens or potential entry points. Reflective surfaces moving in the breeze also deter possums.
  • Fasten old CDs or DVDs with the shiny side out on fences or walls. The flashing reflection startles possums.

Live Traps

Live cage traps are very effective for capturing possums that have moved in:

  • Medium to large sized traps (at least 32” x 12” x 12”) will be necessary to contain an adult possum. Bait with ripe fruit, vegetables, or peanut butter.
  • Place traps along the suspected pathways possums use to enter your property. This may take some nighttime detective work.
  • Check traps frequently so you can release non-target species immediately. Cover traps to help keep animals calm inside.
  • Once you catch the possum, cover the trap with a cloth and transport it at least 5 miles away to legally release on uninhabited land with lots of natural shelter far from roads or houses.
  • Some local animal control agencies will collect trapped possums and humanely euthanize or relocate them instead. Call to inquire.
  • Avoid handling possums directly whenever possible. Use thick gloves if you must. Watch for biting and scratching when releasing.

Warning: It is illegal in most states to translocate wildlife off your property without proper permits.

Natural Predator Urine

The scent of predator urine triggers a fear response in possums that can drive them away:

  • Look for fox or coyote urine online or in hunting supply shops. Bobcat urine works too.
  • Apply it undiluted around the outer perimeter of your yard, gardens and potential den sites using a spray bottle. Reapply every few days.
  • Soak cotton balls in the urine and stash them around den access points. The smell permeates the area.
  • Mix urine with water in a spray bottle for easy application around landscaping beds and garden perimeters.

Note: This method works best before possums establish dens on your property.

Remove Food Attractants

Eliminating outdoor food sources possums go after helps discourage their presence:

  • Never leave pet food sitting outdoors at night. Feed pets indoors or remove bowls immediately if fed outside.
  • Secure garbage in cans with tight fitting lids. Add a bungee cord or latch to keep lids closed.
  • Keep compost bins closed and secure with possum-proof latches. Rotate and harvest compost regularly.
  • Clean and cover outdoor grills after use. Remove grease drippings promptly.
  • Pick up any fallen bird seed, fruits or nuts from the ground.
  • Install electric fencing around vegetable gardens or chicken coops to protect produce and poultry.
  • Harvest garden produce promptly when ripe and remove fallen fruit/vegetables.

Scare Devices

Motion-activated frighteners can help convince possums your yard is not safe:

  • Install sprinklers triggered by movement that spray water to startle possums. Position near dens or gardens.
  • Place flashing strobe lights activated by motion sensors in problem areas. The random bright flashes scare possums.
  • Use sonic pest repellers that blast ultrasonic high-pitched sounds when possums are detected moving nearby.
  • String aluminum pie pans together so they bang loudly when blown by night breeze. Position near potential entry points and dens.
  • Solar-powered predator decoys like fake owls, snakes or coyotes help deter possums in garden areas. Move them frequently so they don’t become ignored.

Chickens for Tick Control

Chickens will eat insects like ticks which helps break the tick life cycle. Fewer ticks means lower odds of diseases they transmit.

  • Get 3-6 free-range chickens for your yard if allowed in your area. Certain breeds like Rhode Island Reds are ideal.
  • Provide a coop for them to sleep safely in at night away from predators. Let them range your yard during the day.
  • The chickens will peck and eat ticks on the ground and vegetation as they move through your yard.
  • Their scratching and foraging disturbs tick habitats. Their droppings also help repel ticks.
  • Keep their coop clean, feed them quality food, and provide fresh water. Consult local ordinances on number of chickens permitted based on lot size.

Benefit: Natural tick control helps protect your family and pets without chemicals!

Avoid Using Poison Baits

It is best not to use any poisons or toxic baits to try to kill possums:

  • Poisons and lethal baits are not legal or humane options in most areas. There are restrictions on using these methods without permits.
  • Poisons can inhumanely inflict immense suffering on possums and other wildlife over many days before death.
  • Toxic baits may be eaten by unintended animals in the outdoors, pets who gain access, or curious children.
  • Poisoned possum carcasses can in turn poison scavengers like hawks and eagles. Secondary poisoning is a real threat to wildlife.
  • Poisons do not solve the problem long-term. If their habitat attracts possums, new ones will keep coming unless you make your property less appealing.

Tip: Focus efforts instead on non-lethal deterrents, exclusion, and removing attractants.

When to Call a Professional

It’s advisable to contact a professional pest control expert or wildlife removal company if:

  • You are unable to locate or seal all possum entry points into your home or structures.
  • Possums have lived and soiled your attic or other indoor areas. Droppings may pose a health hazard requiring special cleanup.
  • You’ve tried common remedies and deterrents but possums persist on your property.
  • Local ordinances prohibit transporting wildlife and affordable humane trappers or agencies are not available to assist.
  • Possums exhibit concerning daytime behavior like lack of fear of humans. This could indicate the animal is diseased.
  • Human or pet exposure has occurred requiring medical treatment, like a possum bite. Trapping, testing, and euthanasia may be needed.

Choose reputable companies that use humane capturing methods and target excluding possums instead of lethal methods.

What About Playing Possum?

When threatened, possums instinctively enter an abrupt deep “animal hypnosis” where they appear lifeless:

  • Their mouth gapes open, tongue lolls out, and body goes limp. Eyes remain open.
  • Saliva may foam around the mouth and they release foul-smelling green anal gland secretions from their rear.
  • Their stiff front legs often bend backward unnaturally beneath their body.
  • Their heart rate slows and breathing appears stopped, but they maintain consciousness.
  • They can stay immobile in this state for hours until the perceived threat retreats.

Fact: “Playing possum” or “playing dead” is an involuntary response initiated by their nervous system, not a conscious act. The purpose is to convince predators they are already dead as protection.

Can Possums Really Remember Faces?

There is some evidence that possums can recognize individual human faces:

  • Researchers in New Zealand tested possum cognition by showing them images of different human faces.
  • The possums looked longer at brand new faces than repeated faces they had already seen before.
  • This suggests they have solid enough memory to differentiate two humans apart simply by facial features.
  • However, more conclusive research is still needed to confirm if possums utilize this face memory in the wild when encountering humans frequently.
  • Some speculate their apparent ability aids them in identifying people who have threatened or harmed them previously so they can avoid those individuals in the future.

So be nice to possums just in case! They just might hold grudges.

Common Possum Myths

There are some common misconceptions about possums worth dispelling:

Myth: Possums spread rabies frequently.

Fact: Rabies cases in possums are actually extremely rare. Their low body temperature makes it difficult for the rabies virus to survive.

Myth: Possums are vicious animals.

Fact: Possums are typically docile. They prefer to avoid confrontations. Biting and aggression mainly occurs when they feel directly threatened.

Myth: Possums are dirty animals.

Fact: As solitary wanderers, possums constantly groom themselves meticulously like cats. Their hair even appears tidy after playing dead.

Myth: Possums are slow, clumsy animals.

Fact: Possums are great acrobatic climbers. They are agile enough to nimbly leap from tree to tree and climb onto rooftops.

Myth: Possums are closely related to rats.

Fact: They may look alike, but possums are more closely related to kangaroos as marsupials. Genetically possums split from rats over 125 million years ago.

The Bottom Line

The key to successfully getting rid of possums:

  • Start by excluding their access points into structures. This step is critical.
  • Next, add repellents and deterrents to make your property less appealing habitat.
  • Finally, use humane trapping to capture and remove lingering possums that don’t self-evict.

With an integrative pest control approach, you can humanely and legally convince unwelcome possums to live elsewhere and prevent future problems. Patience and persistence are needed, but the effort pays off for peaceful possum-free living.

Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Rid of Possums

These are some common questions about eliminating possums:

How long until possums leave my property after I start using deterrents?

It varies. Some possums may leave after just a few days of harassment while more stubborn ones may take 1-2 weeks to abandon an established den. Be consistent applying diverse tactics to motivate them to move.

What scent repellents work best for repelling possums?

Strong urine scents from predators like coyotes, foxes or bobcats have proven most effective based on research. Granulated blood meal and ammonia are other ggood options. Reapply them frequently.

Is it okay to use mothballs to repel possums?

No, mothballs are not recommended. Their fumes can be toxic to many mammals including pets. They can contaminate soil and plants in gardens. Other natural smells deter possums without harming the environment.

What is the best bait to use in a live trap for possums?

Good bait options include peanut butter, fruit slices, grapes, melon, and raw chicken. Place bait near the rear of trap. For the trap to be effective, locate it near where you have observed possums traveling or sheltering already.

How do I make my attic less appealing den space to possums?

Install bright lights with motion sensors in the attic. Play a loud radio periodically. Ensure proper attic ventilation year-round so it gets less hot. Avoid storing cardboard boxes, piles of papers, and other clutter that makes for good nesting habitat up there.

Is it safe to have chickens and possums co-existing in my yard?

Yes, with proper precautions. Confine chickens safely in their coop at night when possums are active. Use sturdy wire fencing at least 3 feet high around the coop and run areas. Bury it 6+ inches into the ground so possums cannot dig under. This prevents possums from killing and eating chickens or eggs. Free-range chickens with possum interaction only during the daytime can work fine.

Do ultrasonic pest repellers effectively drive away possums?

The effectiveness is mixed based on studies. They do seem to initially frighten and annoy possums. But some possums may become used to the sounds over time and learn to ignore them. The noise tolerance varies between individual animals. It’s worth trying ultrasonic repellers, but don’t rely solely on them. Use in combination with other deterrents.


We hope this comprehensive guide gives you plenty of humane options to try for getting rid of unwelcome possums at your home or property. With patience and perseverance, you can find the right deterrents and tactics that persuade specific possums in your yard to leave and stay away. Apply an integrated pest control approach that focuses on exclusion and removing food attractants, and avoid using any harmful poisons. With the right knowledge, you can have your yard back to enjoy possum-free living. Let us know if we can clarify or expand on anything covered here in order to help you resolve your possum problems successfully!