How to (Humanely) Get Rid of Possums

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Opossums, or simply “possums” as they’re more often known, can wreak havoc on your home, garbage, or garden if they decide to move in. Fortunately, you can get rid of possums humanely with the use of repellents, traps, and professional pest removal specialists.
As far as unwanted guests go, possums aren’t the worst—after all, they’re fairly solitary creatures who try their best to stay clear of humans and very rarely carry diseases. They can, however, be a source of annoyance and often find their way into trash cans, attics, and basements.
Trying to get rid of possums without knowing what works and what doesn’t can be incredibly frustrating, especially if they’re actively damaging your property. That’s why licensed car and home insurance super app, Jerry, has put together this guide detailing everything you need to know about getting rid of possums in a safe, humane manner and how to keep them from returning.
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What are possums?

So what exactly is a possum anyway? If you’ve never seen or interacted with one in person before, the word “possum” probably generates an image of a funky little creature in your mind, sort of like a cross between a rat and a raccoon.
In reality, possums—or opossums, as they’re technically known—are marsupials closely related to the kangaroo, meaning they carry their young in a pouch. You’ll find the Virginia opossum, or Didelphis virginiana—recognizable by their distinct gray and white coat—throughout North America, especially in heavily wooded areas.
As opportunistic scavengers, opossums will eat just about anything—their natural diet mostly consists of insects, dead animals, plants, fruits, and frogs, but they’ll also eat garbage, human food scraps, and even pet food.

How to get rid of possums

If left unchecked, possums can actually cause damage to your home, especially if they make their way into the walls or under the floorboards—plus, no one wants to come outside and find trash scattered all over their lawn or their crops scavenged, either. Fortunately, there are ways of getting rid of possums in a safe, effective, and humane way, without having to resort to poisons or lethal traps.


Before trapping and relocating a possum yourself, check your state’s local laws to see whether or not it is legal. Possums are listed as a protected species under the National Parks and Wildlife Act of 1974, which has prompted some states to make killing, trapping, and relocating the creature illegal.
If trapping opossums is legal in your state and region, and you feel you’re up for the task, purchase a catch and release trap and follow the recommended instructions. You’ll need to leave a bit of bait inside the trap to lure them in.
If you need suggestions on what type of trap to use, try one of the following:

Professional removal

If you’re uncomfortable doing the trapping yourself, or it is against the law to do so, you can contact a licensed professional to remove the possums for you. In most cases, they will use similar trapping methods to those previously mentioned—they’ll have several years of expertise and a little more know-how to aid them in doing so.

How to recognize a possum problem

Now that you know what possums are and how to get rid of them, it’s time to learn the telltale signs of a possum problem.

What attracts possums to your home

As previously mentioned, possums are omnivorous scavengers, meaning they’ll eat just about anything they can find. If you have a poorly-secured trash bin, a compost heap, leave pet food outside overnight, or tend a garden, possums may attempt to move in and take advantage of the easy food source.
Similarly, opossums are attracted to homes, garages, sheds, and barns because they provide a safe, dry, and relatively weather-resistant place to build their nests and raise their young.

How to keep possums from coming back

Once you’ve successfully trapped, relocated, and gotten rid of the possum(s), you’ll want to take measures to ensure they don’t come back, including:
  • Removing their food source: The easiest way to prevent possums from coming back is to take away easily accessible food sources—this means harvesting any crops as soon as they’re ready, picking up fallen fruit as soon as it drops, and bringing in pet food.
  • Doing routine maintenance on your home: Like most “pest” animals, possums enter homes and other structures through the path of least resistance, which is usually a vent, crawlspace, window, or damaged roof. Regularly checking to make sure all potential entryways are sealed off—and fixing any that aren’t—will make it more difficult for possums to make their way inside.
  • Getting pest-proof garbage bin lids: Purchasing pest-proof lids for your garbage bins—or even just bringing the bins inside at night—will make it harder for bears, raccoons, and possums to raid your trash cans.

Natural repellants

You can also prevent possums from returning through the application of natural repellents and deterrents, some of which include:
  • Cayenne pepper: If you sprinkle cayenne pepper, or spray a mixture of hot pepper juice and water, around the outside of your home and near known entryways, the capsaicin will irritate a possum’s nose and eyes if they walk through it.
  • Dog or cat hair: Because cats and dogs have been known to attack and kill possums, spreading their fur around your yard will warn possums to stay away, similar to how fur from their natural predators would.
  • Molasses, water, and dish soap: Mix a few tablespoons of molasses and a few drops of dish soap with a liter of water and apply the mixture to trees, plants, and the exterior of your home to deter possums.
If none of these prove strong enough, consider purchasing a commercial possum repellent like Critter-Repellent’s Natural Shake-Away or PMart’s Coyote Urine Spray. One of the things that makes these products so effective is that they use one of the most reliable possum repellents—predator urine.
But if you don’t want to spray urine-based solutions around your property, that’s alright. You can also use light-based, water-based, and noise-based repellent devices, such as the Duranom Ultrasonic Animal Repellent or Predator Guard Solar Powered Light.

How to save money on home and auto insurance

While it may not cover damages from possums, you’ll still want to make sure you’re protected against nature’s other perils with the right homeowners insurance policy using Jerry, the nation’s #1 licensed home and auto insurance super app.
All you have to do is download the app, fill out a short questionnaire, and Jerry will start comparing competitive quotes from the nation’s top insurance companies, finding you the best deals possible without sacrificing coverage for affordability in the process.
After finding a policy with the coverage you need, Jerry can even help you bundle your home and auto insurance, ensuring you save the most money possible!
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There isn’t one! Biologically speaking, “opossum” and “possum” refer to the same animal—the Virginia opossum commonly found throughout North America. In the everyday vernacular, “possum” is the name most people default to—but in taxonomic and zoological situations, “opossum” is the name most scientists prefer.
Not usually, no. Possums are not aggressive creatures, especially when humans are involved. If you do happen to encounter one, they’ll likely either play dead or hiss at you, but very rarely will they attack. Similarly, possums will attempt to avoid confrontation with your pets as well. Rather than engaging with your dog or cat, a possum will try their best to escape the situation altogether.
The only real exception is if you keep chickens or other small fowl—possums will definitely kill and eat chickens if the opportunity is presented to them, though they usually won’t go out of their way to do so.

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