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How to Kill Opossums - Is Poison the Answer?

How To Kill Opossums - There are many pest animals that can be found in the United States, and one of the most interesting and common pests is the opossum, which is fine when it is in its natural habitat, but due to its nature it adapts very well to scavenging for food in urban and suburban areas. One approach to try and deal with the problem is to kill the particular animal that is coming to your yard or garden, and there are many different ways to do this. While it may not necessarily solve your opossum problem, using lethal means does give you the knowledge that a particular animal will not be returning, even if there are other opossums that may come to take its territory.

Lethal Traps

Lethal traps have been around for a very long time, and ever since the opossum was first hunted for its fur there have been trappers that can set a clever noose-like trap that will kill the animal once the trap has been triggered. These are particularly difficult to set effectively, so most people will opt to use a body gripping trap, which will effectively crush the animal to death once it has caught the opossum. There are also people who will use a cage trap, and then humanely kill the animal once captured, using a lethal injection or a carbon dioxide chamber, but these are both quite rare in most places.


The biology of the opossum has made hunting the animal with a rifle quite difficult, mainly because the animal has quite a large skull, but only a relatively small brain. Aiming for the head shot means you should look to hit from the side,below the ear and behind the eye where possible. Another option is to shoot the animal in the body, aiming for the lungs or the heart to deliver a quick kill. Like lethal traps, hunting is not an ideal way to deal with a problem like this, but if you are effective you should kill immediately which helps with recovering the carcass.


This is one of the most damaging ways of trying to deal with an opossum problem, as poison gives you a lot of problems to deal with and doesn't kill the opossum quickly or efficiently enough not to be an issue. The first problem with poison is that it takes time to work, meaning that it can be a problem locating the carcass, and if the opossum has hidden somewhere in a house or shed, the carcass will often attract other pest animals before the odor becomes strong enough to be picked up by the human nose. The other problem with using poison is that it is indiscriminate, and you will often end up killing domestic pets such as cats instead of the intended target.

Dealing With An Opossum Carcass

Although you may have killed the opossum, there are certain precautions you will want to take before dealing with the carcass, and the first one is to make sure it is actually dead, and not just playing dead, which is one of its defense mechanisms. Once you are certain, make sure you are wearing gloves and long sleeved clothing to prevent any actual contact with the carcass, and place it in a garbage bag, before sealing it and re-bagging the carcass so it has two layers of garbage bags. Depending on your state, the carcass may need to be incinerated, otherwise it can be placed out with the trash, or buried.

Alternative Methods Of Dealing With Opossums

While poison is the worst way to deal with an opossum problem, lethal means aren't really the best option when it comes to dealing with these pest animals, and using cage traps is usually a better option as you do not have to deal with the carcass. This is usually a cleaner and more effective way of dealing with the problem in the short term, but if you are looking to permanently solve the problem, you will really need to deal with the factors that are drawing the opossums to your yard or garden.

The Benefits Of Removing Features Attracting Opossums

The vast majority of opossums are opportunistic scavengers, and in most cases they will simply find a food source that is easy to get to, and will then continue to return to the same location where they previously found food successfully. This will usually be through pet food bowls or sacks that are left outside or in garages or sheds that are easily accessible, while garbage is another food source that attracts the animals. Once you have removed or secured these, the opossums will often become less of a problem, while making sure any fence around the property is in good condition, particularly at ground level, can also help to keep the opossums away.

Go back to the main Opossum Removal page for more information about how to kill opossums. Is poison a good way to exterminate opossum?
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