Whatever part of the world you live in, possums can be annoying. Though they don’t mean any harm, they can damage property and spread diseases as they forage around human dwellings. Whether you’re facing the possums of Australia or the opossums of the Americas, you don’t want to find yourself sharing a yard or – worse – a house with one of these marsupials. Read on to find out how to get rid of possums on your property!
How To Get Rid of Possums
There are many ways to naturally and safely discourage possums from coming onto your property and causing damage. Read through the following options to find a solution that’s right for you.
Remove Access to Food and Dwellings
Possums only forage in places they think they can find food or shelter. The best way to prevent possums from coming around is to ensure you’re not leaving food scraps out where they can get at them. Purchasing animal-proof garbage cans is one great way to keep these pesky marsupials away.
You can also deter possums by blocking off potential dwelling places. When they can’t find tree hollows or animal dens to live in, many possums in urban areas choose to burrow into attics, walls, and sheds. Some even find their way under decks or homes. To prevent this, you can install wood or wire mesh skirting to block off exterior gaps. Make sure to seal all possible entrances to your house and repair any holes, especially on and around the roof. Prune overgrown bushes and remove brush piles to discourage habitation.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of possums, installing a higher fence might seem an obvious solution, and it probably won’t hurt. But just remember that all possum species are accomplished climbers who spend much of their time off the ground. In fact, as semi-arboreal species, possums usually prefer life in the trees over life down below. Not only are they exceptional tree climbers, but they can also scale walls and roofs. The bottom line is this: a higher fence isn’t guaranteed to keep out a determined possum and may even provide it with another way to get onto your roof.
Possums are naturally skittish creatures who spend much of their time avoiding predators. Potential predators include domesticated dogs and cats. If you want to scare away a possum, you might want to try keeping a dog or cat around the house. The larger, the better! You can leave tufts of pet fur around the property if you like. The scent alone may discourage possums from approaching.
If you’re worried about your pet’s safety, you likely don’t need to be. Possums are much likelier to flee than fight, so the risk to your pet is minimal. Despite popular misconceptions, possums almost never carry rabies, so your furry friend is extremely unlikely to contract it from them. If you decide to keep a pet, just be sure you don’t leave their food out where possums can get it.
Many people swear by mothballs as a possum deterrent. It’s true; the smell is extremely irritating to these diminutive marsupials. Leave them around your property or house as a means of repelling possums. Don’t let small children or pets get at them, however, as the camphor in mothballs can be toxic.
Bleach or Ammonia
Both bleach and ammonia have sharp, unpleasant odors that are likely to drive possums away. You can splash either bleach or ammonia on a rag and leave it around your house or property. Be careful, though; both of these chemicals are skin irritants and may cause respiratory problems. Never try mixing chemicals together without knowing the effects.
When trying to decide how to get rid of possums, you might want to consider certain food products. It might be counter-intuitive to use food to keep possums away, but there are a few things possums can’t stomach. These animals have a keen sense of smell and strong opinions about what does and does not taste good. Try using the following food items to see if they make a difference.
- Garlic and onion: If you have a garden, you can try growing garlic and onion to turn possums away from your flowers and produce. The powerful scent of these foods is repulsive to possums. If you can’t grow them, try leaving scraps around your property or smearing garlic oil at strategic points.
- Molasses: For whatever reason, possums hate molasses. Leaving some around your garden or house may help deter them.
- Anything spicy: Possums hate spicy foods, notably hot peppers and cayenne pepper. They will also react negatively to hot sauce. Just be sure pets on the property can’t get at these foods, as it will likely upset their stomachs.
You can also combine most of these food products with water to make a plant spray. It’s non-toxic and relatively cheap compared to chemical sprays.
Wolf or Fox Urine
Surprisingly, you can buy wolf and fox urine online or in select stores. Leaving traces of a predator’s urine around your property is a great way to signal to possums that it isn’t a safe place for them to be. Most possums will gladly avoid locations bearing these scents.
Blood meal comes in powder form and contains the blood of slaughtered cattle and hogs. Farmers often use it as a fertilizer, though you can also apply it to your home garden. Possums detest the smell of it and won’t go near it. It may also benefit your plants. Just be aware that it may attract carnivores.
It may sound like a strange solution, but motion-activated sprinklers are a great way to keep possums away (and other animals, too). Their vision isn’t the greatest, especially during the day, and they will likely find a sudden watery spray startling. Not only is it harmless to animal life, but it’ll also keep your lawn looking great. Since it’s automatic, you won’t have to think much about it.
An ultrasonic repellent is a device that emits ultrasonic waves inaudible to human ears. However, these waves are unpleasant to animals and are often an effective deterrent. Keep in mind that this is not a suitable product for households with pets.
There are a number of ways to use both lethal and nonlethal traps to catch possums. However, before doing this, check your state or national laws to ensure you’re not doing something illegal. Even if lethal traps are permissible, it’s generally more humane to use a nonlethal trap and release the possum in another location. However, this may not be successful. Contact a licensed wildlife removal specialist if you’re unsure about how to get rid of possums nearby.
Figuring out how to get rid of possums on your property takes some experimentation. As Australian researchers found, a hungry possum near a food source may ignore all repellents. Possums are determined opportunists, so you may need to try several of these solutions together to find a combination that works. Be cautious about trying to physically remove a possum yourself, as they may bite or scratch in self-defense.
Bonus: Possum vs Opossum–What’s the Difference?
The monikers “possum” and “opossum” are often used interchangeably for the animals that originate both in Australia and North America. In general, the Australian marsupial is known as a possum, though it can also be labeled an opossum. On the flip side, the American critter is technically an opossum, but can be referred to as possum. So what’s the difference between the two?
These two creatures do resemble each other but also have differences due to their geographic separation. The North American species is a member of the order Didelphimorphia and the family Didelphidae. The most common species is the Virginia opossum. Opossums appear rat-like with long bodies, gray fur, hairless tails, opposable thumbs on their hind feet, and pointed noses. Foods they consume include insects, small animals, and fruits.
Australian possums, members of the Phalangerida infraorder within the order Diprotodonti, belong to three families: Phalangeridae, Pseudocheiridae, and Petauridae. They are native to Australia, New Guinea, and New Zealand, where they spend most of their time in trees. Their bodies are more stout and compact, their tales are bushy, and they have round faces with large eyes. Their fur colors can vary from gray to brown to black to red. While possums also eat fruits and insects, they also consume flowers, and some species are completely herbivorous.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Carolyn Smith1/Shutterstock.com
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