Campus News

Wildlife biologist shares ways to get rid of opossums

Michael Mengak, wildlife biologist and professor at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, spoke with Southern Living about the best ways to get rid of opossums in your yard.

While opossums aren’t usually a big problem for homeowners, their presence can be bothersome.

“It may dig in your yard looking for bugs, but they’re not strong diggers like armadillos,” Mengak said. “Or it may move in under your crawl space, porch or shed.”

According to Mengak, there are a few ways to know if you have opossums. Instead of digging their own dens, they will live in existing burrows or under spaces beneath your home, porch or shed. You may also notice the animal leaving its den or smell an odor from feces and urine.

The opossums may also leave tracks. They can be pinpointed by the prints from their hind feet. The critters have opposable big toes on their hind feet, so the prints will look like distorted hands with widely spread fingers.

To keep the animals away, you should first make sure it’s an opossum. If you have lawn damage, you could be dealing with armadillos, skunks or birds as opossums are not known for extensive turf damage. It is recommended to set up a game camera to be sure of the culprit.

Once you know the animal to be an opossum, Mengak recommends removing the food source that is attracting them and exclusion from the area.

Some methods include keeping garbage can lids secured and using sealed compost bins. If you have fruit trees, pick fallen fruit off the ground, though opossums can climb.

Decrease the number of places that can provide shelter for opossums by removing brush and firewood piles and stacks of rocks. You can also exclude opossums from crawl spaces with hardware cloth buried several inches below ground.