How to Keep Opossums Out of the Yard

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The opossum is a nocturnal marsupial that comes out at night to scavenge for food through backyards and gardens. Not only can it make a mess in your landscape, but this animal may also harbor various diseases, including spotted fever. Deter and prevent opossums from invading your yard with a variety of scare tactics, repellents and fencing.

Get Rid of Extra Food

Keeping an opossum out of a landscape starts with getting rid of what's attracting the animal in the first place: easy access to available food. Take a look at your backyard for the following potential problem areas:

  • Garbage cans: Always keep cans covered with a locked lid.
  • Pet food: In the evening, bring indoors any pet food dishes and water dishes.
  • Bird feeders: Take down bird feeders and put them away in a locked container.
  • Compost piles: Never add animal products to your compost.
  • Garden produce: Keep the garden clean. Pick up and discard overripe or fallen fruit and vegetables.

Remove Hiding Spots

Opossums are relatively low on the animal food chain. They crave hiding spots to keep them shielded and protected. Removing these hiding spots can deter opossums and encourage them to look for more hospitable, welcoming yards to scavenge in.

Thin out thick shrubbery, hedges and tall stands of vegetation. Remove piles of leaves or stacks of wood. Put away unused garden equipment that may shelter opossums and other animals, such as wheelbarrows or empty garden pots. Keep things clean. Opossums do not like a tidy landscape.

Turn On Extra Lights

These animals are nocturnal and only come out when it's dark. Use this to your advantage. Exterior house lights, floodlights pointed at the darkest areas of the yard, and lights attached to garden sheds and other garden structures repel opossums and keep them away from the area. Focus external lighting on specific problem areas that you want to protect, such as a compost pile or the spot where you store your garbage cans.

Tip

  • Save on your electric bill by using motion-activated floodlights. If an opossum scurries into your yard, the animal's movement activates the lighting and frightens the animal away.

Repel with Smell

Opossums have sensitive noses. Certain odors may repel them and keep them out of a yard. Every animal is different, however. Try a few methods and see if a specific smell works against opossums in your neighborhood:

  • Mothballs: Place a couple mothballs in a sealed container. Poke holes in the container's lid with a screwdriver or a nail, then place the container wherever you want to repel opossums, such as near a garden shed. 
  • Blood meal: Sprinkle a stripe of blood meal around garden beds or other problem areas. The scent of blood frightens opossums into thinking a predator has recently been feeding in the area.
  • Dog urine: Similar to blood, the smell of a dog's urine frightens opossums. Mix 1 part dog urine with 2,000 parts water and spritz the solution on the ground around any area that you want to protect.

Warning

  • If you try the mothball method, always keep mothballs in a sealed container. Mothballs placed directly on the ground can leach unwanted chemicals into the underlying soil.

Set Up a Fence

If all methods of scaring away opossums do not suffice, fencing remains the best and most successful method for keeping an opossum out of a yard. Use a 48-inch-tall piece of 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth and bend the top 12 inches of the fence outward, away from the area that you wish to protect. Attach the mesh to 3 1/2-foot-tall stakes pounded 6 inches deep and spaced apart by a couple feet. Do not attach the top, outward-bending part of the fence to the stakes. This keeps the top of the fence loose and wobbly. If a opossum tries to climb the fence, the top of the fence will bend and sag under the opossum's weight, preventing it from scaling the fence.

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