Pest Away Tips

10 Fascinating Facts About Opossums: Behavior Diet Risks and More

Opossums, also known as possums, are fascinating creatures that have been around for millions of years. These marsupials are found in North and South America, and they are well-known for their unique characteristics, including their pouch, nocturnal habits, and the ability to play dead.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the world of opossums, exploring their behavior, diet, size, habitat, as well as differences between opossums and possums. We will also examine the risks and dangers they pose, including diseases they may carry.

Opossum Characteristics

Opossums are marsupials, meaning they carry their young in a pouch on their bellies. They are the only marsupials found in North America.

Opossums are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the night and sleep during the day. They are also unique because they are known to play dead when they feel threatened, a defense mechanism they use to deter predators.

This is why many people refer to opossums as “playing possum.” In addition to playing dead, opossums have a unique way of marking their territory with their anal glands, which emit a strong odor.

Opossum Size and Habitat

The Virginia opossum is the most common species of opossum found in North America. They can be found from Canada to Mexico and can range in size from the size of a small domestic cat to a large house cat.

Opossums are semi-arboreal, meaning they spend some of their time in trees. They are also known to be found in burrows, along streams, and in wooded areas.

They can be found in a variety of habitats, including urban areas, woodlands, and even near the Rocky Mountains in the western United States and Mexico.

Opossum Behavior and Diet

Opossums are known for being opportunistic omnivores, meaning they eat a variety of foods, including insects, fruits, vegetables, carrion, and small mammals. They are scavengers and have a reputation for being garbage diggers, often rummaging through people’s trash cans to find food.

However, they also play a vital role in our ecosystem, as they help control the population of ticks, fleas, and other pests. Possum vs.

Opossum

It is common for people to use the terms possum and opossum interchangeably, but there are some key differences. Possums are native to Australia and nearby islands and are not marsupials, meaning they do not have a pouch for carrying their young.

Meanwhile, opossums are found in North and South America and have a pouch for carrying their young.

Risks and Dangers of Opossums

While opossums typically avoid people, they can pose some risks and dangers. Opossums can carry a variety of diseases, including toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, leptospirosis, spotted fever, Chagas disease, and trichomoniasis.

It is important to exercise caution when handling opossums to avoid exposure to these diseases. Opossums are not generally aggressive towards humans or pets, and they do not carry rabies.

However, they can become defensive when cornered or threatened, and this is when playing dead becomes a useful defense mechanism. Opossums may hiss, growl, or bare their teeth, but they will typically try to escape rather than attack.

In conclusion, opossums are fascinating creatures with unique characteristics, including their ability to play dead and their use of anal glands to mark their territory. They play an important role in our ecosystem as scavengers and pest control agents.

However, they also pose some risks and dangers, including carrying diseases. It is important to take precautions when handling opossums or other wildlife to avoid exposure to disease and to treat them with respect and caution.

Getting Rid of Opossums

Opossums may be fascinating creatures, but they can become a nuisance when they invade your property. They are attracted to food and shelter, making your house and yard a prime target.

In this section, we will explore various methods of getting rid of opossums, including prevention techniques, repellents, and removal options.

Prevention Techniques

One of the most effective ways of getting rid of opossums is by preventing them from establishing themselves in the first place. The following preventative techniques can help keep opossums away from your property:

1.

Trash and Food Waste Management: Opossums are attracted to trash and food waste. Ensure that your trash cans have tight-fitting lids, and dispose of food waste in a secure compost bin.

2. Fruit Cleanup: Opossums are attracted to fruit trees and the fallen fruit on the ground.

Regularly clean up fallen fruit to prevent opossums from visiting your yard. 3.

Sealing Off Access: Opossums can access homes and yards easily through gaps and holes in walls, foundations, and roofs. Seal off any potential access points to keep opossums out.

4. Motion Sensors: Opossums are primarily nocturnal and hate bright lights.

Motion sensor lights can act as a deterrent by scaring them away.

Repellents and Removal Options

If opossums have already established themselves on your property, there are several repellents and removal options available. 1.

Chili Powder: Sprinkle chili powder in areas where you suspect opossums may be hiding. The strong smell will deter them from returning.

2. Catch-and-Release Traps: Humane catch-and-release traps are an effective way of removing opossums from your property.

Once you have trapped the opossum, release it back into the wild far away from your property. 3.

Professional Removal: Some wildlife removal companies specialize in the safe and humane removal of opossums. They will trap and remove the opossums from your property and release them safely.

4. Hand-Catching: Hand-catching is a risky method of removing opossums, but it is effective.

Approach the opossum slowly and cover it with a blanket. Carefully lift and release it far away from your property.

Getting Rid of Opossums in Specific Areas

Opossums can invade specific areas of your property, such as your yard, attic, house, or garage. The following tips can help you get rid of opossums in these areas:

1.

Yard: To get rid of opossums in your yard, remove any source of food and shelter. Keep trees and bushes trimmed, clean up fallen fruit, and secure trash cans.

2. Attic: Opossums can enter your attic through gaps and holes in your roof or walls.

Seal off any potential entry points, and lay down humane traps to capture them. 3.

House: Opossums may enter your house through open windows or doors. Seal off any access points, and use humane traps to capture them.

4. Garage: Opossums often invade garages looking for shelter.

Close garage doors at night, secure any gaps or holes, and clean up any sources of food.

Keeping Opossums Away

Preventative techniques can work wonders in keeping opossums away from your property. The following techniques can help you keep opossums away:

1.

Trash and Food Waste Management: Ensure that your trash cans have tight-fitting lids, and dispose of food waste in a secure compost bin. 2.

Sealing Off Access: Seal off any potential access points to your property to keep opossums out. 3.

Wind Chimes: Opossums hate loud noises. Install wind chimes or hang bells outside to deter them from visiting.

4. Pet Hair: Scatter pet hair around the perimeter of your property.

Opossums will smell the scent and avoid the area.

Commercial Repellents

There are several commercial opossum repellents available on the market. These repellents come in the form of sprays, granules, and electronic devices.

However, it is important to choose a repellent that is humane and safe for both pets and humans. In conclusion, there are several preventative techniques, repellents, and removal options available to get rid of opossums.

By taking the necessary steps, you can keep your property opossum-free and prevent them from becoming a nuisance. In conclusion, opossums are fascinating creatures with unique characteristics that play an important role in our ecosystem.

However, they can also become a nuisance when they invade your property. It is important to take precautions when handling opossums and to prevent them from establishing themselves in the first place.

By implementing preventative techniques, such as trash and food waste management and sealing off access, you can keep opossums away from your property. If opossums have already established themselves, several removal options, including catch-and-release traps and professional removal, are available to help you get rid of them humanely.

Understanding opossum behavior and the risks they pose can help you safely interact with them and prevent them from invading your property.

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