Opossums are nicknamed as the living fossil because they are one of the world's oldest living mammals. When scared or threatened, an opossum will feign death, and will look and smell as if it really is dead. Its lips will draw back, saliva forms around its mouth and it secretes a fluid from its anal glands which has a foul odor. This reaction is temporary and opossums can be injured by well-meaning humans moving them while in this state. They are transient animals that may take shelter under your deck for a short time. Removing opossums is not difficult, so trapping is not necessary.
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Encourage opossums to leave the space under your deck by removing what is attracting them. Often opossums are attracted to a location by food and potential shelter. Remove garbage and pet food stored outdoors.
Trim or remove dense hedges or foliage that provides cover for their hiding place beneath your deck.
Clean up any fruit that has fallen from trees and clear wood piles and other potential hiding places near your deck.
Look for access holes or damaged spaces it might have used to get under your deck. Opossums will leave their hiding place after sunset to look for food.
Stuff wadded up newspaper into the hole and sprinkle a light dusting of flour around any openings that the opossums may have entered through.
Check the area frequently after sunset. If the newspaper has been pushed out and you see tracks in the flour leading away from an opening but not back, the opossum has left.
Shine a flashlight beneath the hole to confirm it is empty. Opossums breed between October and December and sealing the entry during these months may trap babies inside so it's important to confirm the space is empty. If it is, seal the entry using wire mesh or wood boards once the opossum is gone.
Most wild animals carry disease, so while an opossum is not physically aggressive, it’s best not to pet, or try to get too close to it. Opossums are not a rabies-vector species. Their blood chemistry is inhospitable to the virus.
An opossum may bare its teeth and while this appears threatening, it is only a defense mechanism. The opossum will not attack. It is pretending to be aggressive to scare you away. More often, opossums will flee from a threat or play dead.
While opossums can be a nuisance by foraging in garbage cans, bird feeders or pet food but they do not typically dig holes, nor will they threaten you or your pets.
If the opossum under your deck appears injured or dead leave it alone and give it a safe exit path. Typically in a short period of time, it will wake and leave on its own.
Opossums typically only stay about two to three days in one area and then move on to new areas. While around your home, they also help control unwanted pests such as rats and snakes.