Possum / Opossums

Possum / Opossums

Didelphimorphia or Phalangeriformes

Size: 15"-20" body
Color: white face with a greyish body and pink tail
Legs: Four

Possum Facts

Though commonly spelled possum, opossums are more native to North America. Possum refers more to the Australian species, but many times they are used interchangeably. They measure between 15 and 20 inches with long bodies that can be brown, gray, or even yellow- brown. They appear to be wearing a mask that covers their beady, dark eyes. Their often hairless, rat-like tails are very recognizable. Mating occurs year-round and is usually dependent on weather conditions and food availability. Their diet consists of a wide range of things from insects, carrion, plants, fruit, grain, and eggs to small birds, worms and toads. Possums and opossums are nocturnal and will usually only feed at night. In some cases, they can carry a variety of parasites and diseases.

 

Possum Nuisances & Damage

These pests will often raid your yard in search of food. If you’ve got pets, they’ll want to munch on kibble. If you’ve got birds, bird seed is fair game. Any garbage you’ve got lying around will probably be strewn all over the place as they look for a free meal. If they get inside your house, it is not uncommon for them to make a mess of attics or crawlspaces as they hunt. They also can carry a parasite in their feces that can contaminate food and water sources for horses called “equine protozoal myelitis.” This is a disease that affects their nervous system and can cause lameness. Mange, a disease that deteriorates the coat of animals, is also carried by these critters. While it is rare, it’s also possible for opossums to carry rabies. This can affect the nervous system and cause severe, flu-like symptoms that may result in death if left unchecked. If you come into contact with these animals, seek immediate medical attention to make sure you don’t become infected. They will growl, hiss or screeched if they feel they are in danger. You might also notice chewed- up eggs or mauled chickens if you’re on a farm. Possum tracks resemble small, human hands with widespread fingers. Their liquid-like, green droppings can be found around the yard and near their dens.

Possum Identification

Possums and opossums are ugly. They are most recognizable by their dark beady eyes and their long hairless tails that they will use to hang from trees. Their feet resemble human hands as their fingers are spread wide apart. When driving at night, you may see their eyes in the reflection of your headlights. It’s most likely an opossum. They are commonly known for playing dead as a defense mechanism from predators.

 

Possum In The Yard & The Garden

You’ll find these critters in several different environments. From dry states to tropical forests, grasslands, mountains, temperate forests, and even your backyard, opossums can easily adapt to most anywhere. You’ll find them near streams and swamps, as well as under buildings, brush heaps, in logs, trees, or squirrel nests.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Opossum

How do I keep possum away?

Having opossums around doesn’t mean you’ve got a major problem on your hands. They love to move around, so they’ll probably just leave once they get what they came for--namely, food. To deter them from coming around in the first place, put your trash out in the morning so they won’t go through it at night, and seal the cans with tight-fitting lids. Keep areas near bird feeders clean, as this attracts food that opossums may want to eat like birds or small animals. Removing debris and keeping grass and bushes trimmed will reduce their hiding spots.

 

Benefits of Professional Possum Pest Control

A pest management professional has the education, equipment and skills necessary to effectively address a possum problem. Finding and treating the possum can be challenging, especially if they are loose in your yard. A pest management professional provides their expertise to identify the pest problem and determine the best possible solution to resolve the possum nuisance.