Discover 5 Smells That Possums Absolutely Hate

Virginia opossum - North American opossum, climbing on the tree.Wild scene from Wisconsin.
© Karel Bock/

Written by Angie Menjivar

Updated: July 13, 2023

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You’ve seen something sneaking around your yard and you’re worried a backyard creature is about to ruin your garden. If it’s a possum, you can deter it! Discover five smells that possums absolutely hate!

5 Smells That Possums Absolutely Hate
If you’ve seen a possum raiding your garden or garbage can – you may have a repellant in your pantry!

What Are Possums?

Possums are marsupials, which means they’re mammals with pouches. You may spot these creatures outside your home because they’re attracted to pet food, trash cans, and compost piles. They generally snack on insects, grains, and fruit. Possums are distinguished by their long faces and rat-like tails. They can weigh anywhere between four to 12 pounds and can get as long as 20 inches (excluding their tails).

5 Smells That Possums Absolutely Hate

1. Hot Peppers

Unless you enjoy the burning feeling that capsaicin delivers to your tongue and nostrils, you know what it’s like to grimace and pull away from something spicy. Possums are just like people who can’t stand anything spicy. Just smelling the hot peppers (or even hot sauce!) can send them running because the scent alone irritates their sinuses.

cayenne pepper plant

Cayenne peppers reach up to 50,000 on the Scoville scale and possums can’t stand them!


It’s much too overpowering for a possum, which makes it a great deterrent. You can use hot peppers, hot sauce, or even powdered cayenne pepper. Create a mixture with water and add a little bit of dish soap so that it lasts longer. Spray it in areas where you have seen possums. They smell the peppery scent and quickly realize they’re not welcome there.

2. Pet Fur

If you have a pet at home, not only do they provide you with companionship, cuddles, and tons of belly laughs, but they may also be able to help you keep possums away. Possums instinctively preserve their own lives and if they smell a potential predator, they retreat quickly.

Black Labrador retriever

A huge pile of fur brushed off a black

Labrador retriever

could come in handy!

© Porkka

These marsupials only hang out in environments where they feel safe and if there is a potential predator in their midst, they make it a top priority to get far away from that space. The next time you brush your dog or cat’s coat out, save all those fuzzy hairs and place them outside in the areas where you have spotted a possum. If you collect enough, you can create a perimeter all around your property.

3. Garlic

It’s delicious in sauces and a variety of meat dishes. Sometimes it even graces a bloody Mary! But while humans enjoy the pungent flavor and scent of garlic, for possums, it’s a hard no. The scent lets them know that they’re not in a comfortable environment, so they won’t nest anywhere there is garlic. This is a super simple solution if you already have a garden.

Old age woman hand planting seed garlic in potting soils for family garden

Plant some garlic in your garden to deter possums!


Just plant some garlic cloves and that’s enough to keep possums away (and from ruining your harvest). If you don’t have a garden, you still have the option of using garlic oil. This is an even more potent repellent that you can use outside to create a perimeter. In a pinch, used minced garlic or fresh garlic, mix it with water in a spray bottle, and spray the space where you spotted the possum.

4. Onion

Like garlic, onion is a great ingredient in a variety of foods, whether it’s grilled or fresh and crunchy. However, for possums, it’s disgusting. It’s much too overwhelming for their senses and they avoid it at all costs. If you have onion growing in your garden, you probably don’t have a possum problem. If you do have a possum problem, add onions to your garden!

Onion goes a long way in your garden and is even sliced up and placed outside!

©Africa Studio/

It’s even better if you grow garlic and onion together. However, if you are living sans garden, just use fresh onion. Slice it and add those pieces around the areas where you want to deter possums. The scent might not be overpowering enough for them at first and if they do manage to get a taste, they’ll know never to come back to that spot again.

5. Molasses

You know possums don’t like garlic or onion and they definitely don’t like anything spicy but they’re pretty picky because they also don’t like the sweet smell of molasses. Most people keep molasses in their pantries, which makes this an efficient solution.

Organic Black Cane Sugar Molasses in a Bowl

Too sweet for possums! Molasses repel them.

©Brent Hofacker/

If you happened to spot a possum and you want to make sure it doesn’t come back, take that sweet stuff out of your pantry and head outside to spray it onto your plants or wherever your garden is to keep possums from coming back. You can pour molasses into a spray bottle and mix it with water. You can also add a little bit of dish soap, which makes your mixture last a bit longer.

Summary of 5 Smells That Possums Absolutely Hate

SmellHow to Use It
1Hot PeppersMix peppers (including hot sauce or dried) with water and a little dish soap – then spray where you’ve seen possums
2Pet FurSave the hair from pet brushings and scatter it around the outside of your house
3 GarlicPlant garlic cloves or use garlic oil in a spray
4OnionSlice fresh onion and place it where you want to deter possums
5MolassesMix molasses with water and a little dish soap to make possum repellant spray

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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