Adult opossums grow to between 15 and 20 inches in length not including their tail, (with tail about 40") and weigh between 4 and 14 pounds. They have a long pointed face and ears that lack any hair. Opossums have a thick undercoat of fur that is peppered with long guard hairs; they are whitish-gray in color. Opossums are the only marsupial found in North America, and therefore they carry their young in a pouch. They are also well-known for being able to use their long, hairless tail to hang upside down from trees. When frightened they look like they are snarling at you with their 50 teeth displaying prominent canine fangs, hiss, growl, screech and ooze a yellow-green stinky fluid from their anal glands. They could also "play dead" so don't go over and casually pick it up or try move it without essential safety precautions.
The most common sign of an opossum problem is seeing them often on your property digging around your garbage, in garden areas at compost piles, at pet food (especially cat food) and at bird feeders. If opossums have taken up residence in your home's attic or behind walls you will probably hear scratching, running, or tapping noises. They do not hibernate but will retreat to dens in colder weather, mainly nocturnal but also forage during the day.
Why are they in my home?
Opossums often enter inside of homes and other buildings to create a safe place to live and burrow inside of after first being attracted to food sources that are found on your property. Opossums are drawn to properties that offer easy access to food and water sources; pet food, unsecured garbage cans, gardens, and compost piles can all attract draw opossums. Once on your property they may decide to take advantage of any openings found inside of your home, garage, or other outbuildings to access warm, safe shelter and to make their burrow inside of.
What damage can they cause?
Opossums consume produce from gardens, fruit trees, garbage and compost piles. They prey on chickens, ducks, pigeons, and eggs left by quail and other wild birds. They will re-use old holes and gaps made by racoon in your home and drop off some nasty tick and fleas while keeping you awake a few hours at night.
Are they Dangerous?
Opossums should be avoided, don't handle these teeth bearing marsupials or they could give a nasty bite or excrete that foul green-yellow ooze on you. The biggest danger is the fleas and ticks they bring into your living space. They host the microorganism Equine Protozoan Myeloencephalitis (EPM), a horse killing disease, in their feces and may contaminate horse drinking water and stables.
How do you get rid of them?
If opossums have become a problem on your property or inside of your home, contact CrittereX LLC, we can get rid of opossums from your property through our nuisance wildlife control services. You could also first try removing pet food, bird feeders and cover trash cans but we have the training needed to safely service your opossum infestation and stop future infestations with exclusion methods. Contact us today to learn more about our nuisance wildlife control services that are available throughout the Hudson Valley of New York.
Opossum Prevention Tips
Make sure that gutters are working properly to direct water away from your home and to prevent it from pooling and creating water sources.
- Opossums are excellent climbers. To help prevent them from gaining access into your home, trim back tree branches away from the exterior of your home.
- Make sure that all chimneys have secure caps on them.
- Repair any holes or gaps found in the roofline.
- Make sure that vents leading into your home have tight fitting covers over them, and repair any loose window screens or other large openings into your home.
- Make sure that outdoor garbage cans have tight fitting lids on them and that they are stored a distance away from the outside of your home.
- Pick-up uneaten pet food each evening.
- Opossums like to live and hide in woodpiles. Make sure that woodpiles found on your property are kept a distance away from the outside of your home.