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Opossum Facts


Possum or Opossum?

Opossums are sometimes known as possums, which is actually the name for a different Australian marsupial. Possums are different animals than opossums, but the term is used nearly interchangeably in North America.


Though the opossum looks similar to a rat it is actually not a rodent at all. Opossums are marsupials and the only one located in North America. Their babies develop in their mother’s pouch and as they grow, ride on her back until they are old enough.

Short lifespan

Opossums have a short lifespan of approximately 1-2 years. Much of this is due to the fact that they are not very quick and have many predators including dogs and cats. Human interaction also interferes with their longevity.

Unique Features

Opossums have many interesting features including 50 pointed teeth, which is the most of any North American land mammal. They are more likely to show them off in a scare tactic display than to use them for attacking. Another interesting feature is their opposable thumbs on their back feet for gripping branches. Opossum tails help them carry material, grasp branches, and balance.


Opossums are nocturnal creatures but may be active during daylight during winter months when it is more difficult to forage for food. Their activity depends on the food sources available to them and opossums may forage during the day regardless of season though. Opossums are omnivorous and insects, fruits, grains, small animals like frogs, and they are particularly fond of cat food.


Opossums are extremely resistant to rabies, unlike many other wild animals. If an opossum were to bite you, it would be very uncharacteristic and would be best to seek physician attention immediately as that behavior would indicate potential rabies threat.

If you find a opossum in your home or yard and it will not leave on its own, call pest control to have the animal removed immediately.

Tips About Keeping Opossums Away From Your Home

While opossums might not be the cutest animal you’ll ever encounter (depending on who you ask, of course), they’re not nearly as mean or as viscous as they seem. Opossums use their scary snarl and loud hiss to scare away predators, but it’s really just a big bluff! Opossums are actually quite shy and aren’t aggressive toward humans or pets, and in fact they can’t bite or attack well at all. If their scary act doesn’t work, they will usually try playing dead. They really are much more afraid of you and your pets than you are of them. keep opossums away

Even though the opossum doesn’t want to hurt you or your pets, you still probably do not want him moving in on your property, and that is perfectly understandable. Here are some tips to keep these critters at bay.

Exclusion, exclusion, exclusion

Start by searching your property for any opossum dens. You’ll want to look around the perimeter of your property and especially around porches and under decks. If you find any dens, wait until a few hours after dark (that’s opossums will be out roaming around) and then fill it in with straw, leaves, or even crumpled up newspaper. This is a humane method because if an adult opossum is indeed still in the den, he or she will be able to climb out but be very unlikely to return. After a few days, check to see if the den has been disturbed. If not, check if any young are inside (it’s not likely, but you never know). Once you’re sure the den is opossum free, you’ll want to seal it up. Digging a trench and putting in hardware cloth is a great method for sealing.

Make your property unattractive (to opossums, of course!)

There was a reason the opossum decided your property was the place to be, so you need to figure out what made it so attractive. Is your garbage lid loose? Maybe the opossum smelled the food in there and decided your home was the best buffet in town. Do you feed pets outside? Again, if the opossum finds an easy source of food, or even just the possibility of easy food, they are more likely to hang out. Make sure your garbage lids are tight, you feed pets indoors, and don’t have any food laying around outside.keep opossums away

Despite what you may have heard, opossums rarely have rabies. That drooling mouth is just to scare you away. If you find opossums have decided to move into your home and you need help with removal, call the trained professionals at Attic Solutions to safely and humanely evict them. The specialists at Attic Solutions are qualified experts in opossum removal and fixing any damage they may cause.

Keeping Opossums Out of Your Home

Vigilant homeowners are constantly inspecting their property for unwanted animals and signs of intrusions but the biggest threats may be nocturnal.  Opossums are nocturnal creatures that are a common nuisance species in the Chicago area.  They can be attracted onto a property by garbage or pet food and they commonly make their homes in attics, basements, sheds, or decks.  It is important for homeowners to recognize signs of an opossum intrusion because the opossums themselves are only seen at night.

Opossum Life Cycle

Opossums are marsupials that carry their young in pouches and they are the only marsupials found in North America.  They can be identified by their pointed snouts, grayish black fur, and rat-like tails and they can grow to be between 10 and 14 pounds.  The height of their mating time is in January and their young spend the first part of their lives in their mother’s pouch.  The young opossums eventually come out of the pouch to cling to their mother’s back until they are ready to leave on their own.  The average lifespan for an opossum is between 2 to 3 years.

Opossum Behavior

Opossums are omnivores that search for food at night and they will eat just about anything.  They have been known to steal pet food and rummage through garbage cans but their preference is meat or carcasses.  Opossums are also nomadic but tend to make a home base for themselves in man-made structures such as under decks, porches, and sheds and they can even intrude attics and basements.  They become a major problem when they get between walls because they can cause property damage and create foul odors with their droppings or by dying in a hard to reach place.  Opossums do not usually carry rabies but they do carry fleas and parasites and spread disease through their droppings.

Opossums are also a threat to attack pets and their 50 sharp teeth make for a pretty vicious attack.  They are slow creatures and in some cases when they feel threatened, they will play dead to ward off predators.

As soon as you suspect you may have a opossum infestation, call us immediately at 847-464-1861 for removal. We are trained professionals and equipped to deal with opossum exclusion and removal, using humane live animal trapping (never poisons!). We will remove the opossum and fix any property damage they may have caused. Click to read more about opossum removal services from Attic Solutions.