A Wildlife
                        Exclusion Service
Helping People Solve Problems with Wild Animals
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Self help- Opossum

How to Exclude Opossums
If Babies are Present
Predator Scent
Most Common Attractants
Discouraging Nighttime Visits
Is an Opossum a Threat to Pets
Opossum Coming up to House
Opossum out During the Day

How to exclude opossums from your home 

Opossums are very humble and opportunistic creatures. They will not pull off vent screens or rip into anything that isn’t already open so if you see that something was recently torn off, you are probably not dealing with an opossum but more likely a raccoon. However, most of the procedures are the same. Check for any and all openings on the house including roofline and subfloor vents. After this is done, you need to find the most commonly used entrance. This may have to be done by the use of tracking powder. Talcum, flour, or baby powders are the best choices. Sprinkle a light coating around the opening during the day and recheck the next day. This may also tell you the number of animals or what type.

Seal up all openings except the one used the most. Once all the other openings are sealed, you can prepare to exclude the opossum. Prepare the building material that you will use to exclude the animal. Often this is as simple as buying a new vent screen, and having nails or screws ready to attach it to the opening. Sometimes you must be creative in coming up with a way to seal the opening. It must be stressed that a permanent solution is what is wanted.

Create something that only opens in one direction and will shut once an animal walks out. Often this can be a small piece of house siding with a hole cut out and then reattached with spring hinges. For a small fee of $7 you can purchase AWES’s One-way Door building plan, please call the office for details (707) 992-0276. Prop it open and wait until it shuts. Continue to prop open until the door stops shutting for up to two weeks. At this point you will know the animals are out. When the opossum returns there may be some scratching or digging around-- attempting to defeat the exclusion, but a good job will usually hold up.

It should be as simple as this in the majority of situations. The opossums will move on to better habitat. For more complicated situations an inspection by a Wildlife technician should be considered.

If it is likely baby animals are under the structure 
Because opossums are marsupials, they carry their young in their pouch. It is very unlikely that babies would get trapped under a house during this stage of life. Once they are older they hold on to their mother’s back during travel and, again, are unlikely to be left under the house. If you find baby opossums under your house or around your house, they likely fell off their mother’s back while she was running. She will not come back for her babies so they should be brought to a local rehab facility.

For detailed information about birthing and weaning of local wildlife,

click on Animal Birthing Season Chart


Predator scent 
Predator scent is coyote or Mountain Lion excrement that is applied to areas of your yard where wildlife is seen most often. The wild animals smell the scent of the predator and choose to leave your yard so they are not susceptible to predator attack. Predator scent can be purchased through Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue located at 403 Mecham Rd, Petaluma Ca. for $25.00 per quart sized bag. Predator scent works 70-80% of the time and the other 20-30% includes mothers with babies (mothers are less likely to move from their nests when she has babies already residing in that nest) or if food is present; animals are less likely to leave and remain gone if the attractant is still available. If babies are likely present (May-August) an inspection by a trained Wildlife Technician is recommended. There are other "urine" like products available at many home and garden stores but success is unknown.


Most common attractants 
Food is the most common attractant. Do not leave pet food out or you should bring it in after the pet is done; animals will learn new routines quickly, even cats, and will have no problem eating their food at certain times rather than whenever they want. Garbage containment should also be looked into because it can be a key attractant. If there is no lid or it can be easily pushed or pulled off, other locking devices need to be added such as bungee cords or rope. Grubs in the soil are a favorite of our wildlife neighbors. Reduced watering or turf treatment will often remove or reduce the grub attraction. A product called “Milky Spore” is available from online merchants and kills the grubs in the lawn; one application lasts for 10 years or more.


Shelter is the next most common attractant, especially in the spring when babies are born. Under houses, sheds, decks, in attics and eaves are all important areas to be inspected. A Wildlife Technician can successfully identify current and potential shelter during a detailed inspection.


How to discourage nighttime visits by opossums 
Remove pet foods left outside in feeding bowls. Cats only need to feed for 10 minutes in the morning and evening and food should be removed promptly after 10 minutes. Elevate woodpiles to discourage nesting, keep garbage can lids on tightly, apply predator scent around where opossum is coming to help keep them out of your yard.


When is an opossum a threat to pets? 
Wildlife generally do not seek out pets as a food source. Most of our pets are around the same size as the wildlife commonly in our yards and wildlife do not view them as food but as a threat to territory and food sources (they don't know that our pets don't want the same food and shelter they do). When pet food is left out, wildlife will be attracted and potentially fight the pet over the food. Most pets, especially cats, will avoid wildlife at all costs, but dogs usually become aggressive to protect "their" territory or become excited at the site of a new "friend" and often scare wild animals. Pets should always come in at night, or be placed in a predator-proof enclosure if they do have to be left out at night click here to see how to predator proof your outdoor enclosures. Wild animals only attack if they are feeling threatened. A dog barking at them will cause them to attack the dog. Opossum instinct is to play dead not to attack so domestic animals are more of a threat to them than they are to your pets.


Opossum coming up to house 
Opossums will continue to come up to a house or porch where food is set out for other animals. The food must be brought in and the routine changed for at least a week or longer before the opossum will stop depending on the site as a food source. Opossums are very docile creatures and may not run away when approached. They usually freeze and will hiss at you to scare you off, or they will "play dead." Often you can shoo opossums away with a broom or long stick.

DO NOT try to touch the animal without any source of protection. Do not attempt anything you feel uncomfortable doing when dealing with wildlife.


Opossum out during the day 
Opossums are normally nocturnal but sometimes they are out during the day; they may have been scared from their sleeping or are hungry. They will not attack a person. They are more afraid of you than you are of them. Opossums are not aggressive, preferring to flee, or, when cornered, will back up, show their teeth and growl.


Click on Opossums to see more information about this animal.


A Wildlife Exclusion Service • 403 Mecham Rd, Petaluma 94952 • (707) 992-0276
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