Like kangaroos, one of the defining characteristics of opossum is that it is a marsupial, which means that it comes with a pouch. The latter is where they carry and nurse the young ones. They have a long and slender body with a pointed snout. The color is usually black, gray, or white. There are some species with three dark streaks. They have dark eyes, large ears without hair, and a rounded tail. To add, they have 50 teeth that look like needles.
Opossums are strong swimmers and good climbers, which should already provide you with a good idea on where they usually live. Deciduous woodland is the most common place where they live, which includes streams and swamps. Nonetheless, they are highly-adaptable, which allows them to survive almost anywhere, even at home gardens. They live in tree cavities, wood piles, hollow logs, brush piles, and animal burrows. Inside the house, they are common in garages and attics.
How to Identify Opossum’s Damage
Opossums eat animal carcass, small vertebrates, insects, small amphibians, and garbage. As heavy eaters, they can eat almost anything that they find. Plus, they are omnivores, which is why they can feed on a lot. When it comes to plants, they eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains.
The following are some of the most common signs that will give you a hint of the presence of opossums:
- There will be traces of their claws or foot, which will be evident not only on the ground, but also on gates and trees.
- You also have to pay attention to their droppings. They can defecate in the garden. Their feces will have and average length of 2.5 centimeters, which will be as thick as a pencil.
- Check the barks of the tree and inspect for horizontal bites, which will be indicative of the feeding of opossums. They can also totally strip the bark if the tree is old and if the infestation is severe.
Results of Infestation
The infestation of opossums will be evident beyond plants. They rummage through trash bins, which is why they can create a lot of mess. They can also be a carrier of different diseases, which will cause negative effects not only in garden plants, but even to your pets, such as cats and dogs. In the case of plants, the infestation normally results to cosmetic damage. They can also lead to the total destruction of farm crops, which means that they can lead to significant economic loss.
How to Get Rid of Opossums
Natural and Organic Solutions
The following are some of the best ways to prevent and eliminate opossums without the need to worry about safety and toxicity:
- There are innovative products that you can purchase to scare opossums, making sure that they won’t get within the perimeter of the garden. Motion-activated lights and sprinklers are just some of the perfect examples. The latter will be automatically activated once they detect opossums nearby. They are equipped with sensors to determine the presence of the pest.
- Setting up traps will also be a good solution. Opossums will not recognize them as traps, so it is a good way to trick them. There are cage traps that you can use, although the problem would be disposing live opossums. Pay attention to the rules where you live. You cannot release them just anywhere or burn them. Also, when using traps, make sure that they are placed in the common paths of opossums.
- Fencing is another humane way of dealing with opossums. This basically requires the need to create protective barriers to keep the pest out. A woven wire is a good idea, which should have a height of at least four feet. Also, make sure that the top part faces outward, which will prevent the opossum from climbing.
- Opossums have a strong sense of smell, which is why it will also be good to deter them through having foul odor. Scattering mothballs in a screen bag is one thing that will work. To add, crushing garlic and scattering it in the garden can also work like magic.
- Opossums can also live inside the house. Make sure that there are no open spaces where they can possibly sneak. If there is a tall tree near the roof, pruning it will also help. Opossums can enter the house unnoticed through its branches and from the roof.
- Sanitation is also an effective solution, if not the most effective. You need to alter the external environment by keeping it clean and hence, it will be less attractive for opossums. Remove fallen fruits, leaf litter, and other debris. If you have trash bins, make sure that they have a tight cover.
There are chemicals containing poisons for killing opossums. However, depending on the country where you live, there are regulations that restrict the use of different products. Be sure to check the laws and see to it that the use of a specific product is allowed. Also, read the label and be familiar with the instructions on its proper application, which will be vital in achieving a high level of effectiveness.
Among others, some of the chemicals that are popular for the treatment of opossums include sodium nitrite, brodifacoum, and cholecalciferol. They are common ingredients in baits that will kill possums in an instant upon ingestion. This will make their body weaker and prevent them from spreading infestation.