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Opossum Under the Shed, Deck, or Porch

If you’re wondering why an opossum prefers living under your shed or deck instead of out in the glory of nature, you probably aren’t aware of what a fabulous opossum food source you create around your home. Opossums are wanderers, so if one has taken up residence by your home, you can bet there is a reason for it. Opportunistic creatures, the large marsupial will eat just about anything. Garbage cans, gardens, and compost piles are all five-star buffets for these creatures. With a reliable food source at hand, the opossum will find a tolerable place to live—most often an attic or under a building. Opossums under outbuildings or under decks can prove to be a danger to pets. When cornered, the opossum will bite, and by marsupial standards, these guys have jaws packed with teeth!

It’s true that a startled or threatened opossum will faint, though the word ‘faint’ is not scientifically correct. The unconscious state of a startle opossum is a defense mechanism designed to create the illusion of being dead. Not only does the animal appear to have an open mouth rimmed with saliva, but a strong odor is emitted from the anal glands to mimic the smell of decay. This unconscious state can last up to four hours, and during this span of time, the opossum can be handled and moved without it waking. Startling an opossum is not the ideal way to catch one. All it takes to receive a severe injury is for the opossum to wake up while you have it in hand. If one of the creatures is living near your home, it is better to trap the animal than jump out at it from behind the corner of the house.

The best opossum defense is to eliminate the steady food source that attracted the animal to your home in the first place. Garbage cans should be secured and the garbage taken to the landfill regularly. Compost piles should be in commercial processors or far enough away from the house to prevent marsupials from stopping in. Because opossums will often scavenge carcasses (which is why you see them on the side of the road so often), any small, pest animals you are trapping should be disposed of in the sealed garbage or away from the residence. Exclusion tactics are also a wise decision on the part of a homeowner. Properly sealing around your deck or shed can prevent the animal from entering in the first place. Any gaps under the structure should be eliminated by means of a wire mesh or a solid, sturdy barrier that is flush to the ground. If you opt to install a mesh fence, sloping the base outward will confound the opossum and prevent the animal from inquiring further about crawling under the building.

The best way to eliminate an opossum under your shed or deck is to have the animal trapped and removed. Opossums are one of the easiest species to trap since they love to scavenge, and this makes baiting traps easy. Most people will try one or two repellents before they become resolved to hire a professional, and perhaps it is sometimes best to learn the hard way, but for the sake of time, you should trust the general rule: Repellents don’t work. Mothballs, predator urine, putrid concoctions and the like are all based on the theory that an opossum will not live where it feels threatened or uncomfortable. In reality, opossums are some of the stickiest pests out there, so a little coyote urine isn’t going to turn them out of a warm den. Trapping and removal is the best way to solve your opossum problem and will probably spare you handling some unpleasant substances.

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