Opossums are one of the cutest animals (who can resist those little pouches), and they are usually not aggressive. They very rarely get rabies, and are also very well-behaved — when people complain about opossums, it’s often another species causing the issue, as opossums rarely get into garbage cans or gardens. However, here are humane solutions (that actually work!) for some of the most common opossum conflicts.
Under Your Porch or Deck
To keep opossums from under your deck or porch, try to keep any holes filled to ensure they can’t get there in the first place! Just make sure the area is clear so you don’t trap any animals. Two hours after dark, you can close any openings with netting or straw so that if an animal is trapped inside, they can get out, but an animal from the outside won’t be tempted to crawl in. After 2 or 3 nights, if the netting or straw is undisturbed, you can properly fill the hole with an “L” footer, or other permanent exclusion.
If they’ve already moved in, you actually don’t need to do anything. Opossums are nomadic and will leave on their own.
Opossums Through Your Pet Door
If an opossum comes in through your pet door, don’t panic! Close the doors to all your inside rooms and open the door to the outside. You should be able to gently nudge them to leave with a broom – opossums are not usually aggressive!
Sprinkle chili powder or place vinegar soaked rags anywhere opossums (or other animals) might be frequenting. You should reapply daily.
In Compost Piles
If opossums (or other animals) are getting into your compost pile, mix kitchen garbage with soil or wood ashes before burying in the hot center of the compost piles. Please do not put any food scraps in open compost piles, but if you must, bury then under at least 8” of soil and put a wire mesh barrier over the top held in place with a heavy object. You can also put your compost in a pest-proof container, or a bin with a wire top or sealed lid.
In Your Yard/On Your Property
Due to their nomadic nature, an opossum on your property will typically move along on their own shortly. If you truly don’t want them there, make sure you have tight-fitting lids on garbage cans (or move your garbage inside) and do not leave pet food outside.
Know that opossums can be beneficial for your garden! They eat snails, slugs, insects, and even small rodents. They also will clean up spilled trash and fruit fallen from trees.
Please note, Humane Action Pittsburgh (HAP) is not a wildlife rescue and is unable to address concerns or assist with wildlife emergencies. Please utilize the resources on our website to find the appropriate organization to contact. Submissions to HAP through our contact form or email will not be able to be addressed.