The only marsupial native to North America, opossums are roughly the size of a house cat. They are grey and white in color, have narrow, tapered heads and pointed, pink noses. Both their front and hind feet of include five curled toes, and the inner toe on the hind foot is opposable, much like a thumb, allowing the animal to grab small branches. Opossums range in size from 24 and 33 inches long and typically weigh between 6 and 15 pounds.
Opossums are nocturnal, meaning they venture out of their dens in the evening in search of food. They are very secretive, slow, and solitary. Opossums are excellent climbers and will climb trees or hide in bushes when chased. When unable to reach safety, an opossum will lie down, close its eyes, let its tongue hang out of its mouth, and excrete a very bad smelling substance. This behavior has become known as “playing possum” and is caused by nervousness, but the opossum usually recovers quickly and will seize the opportunity to make a clean getaway.
Opossums are slow, secretive and solitary. They venture from their dens at night to look for food, traveling distances of 1/2 to 2 miles depending on food availability and the time of year. They’re observed frequently in the glare of automobile headlights as they eat other animals killed by traffic (and often suffer the same fate).
Opossums tend to wander a great deal and shift their home sites frequently, but most spend their lives in an area 10 to 50 acres in size. Opossums do not hibernate, but stay denned up during extremely cold weather. Opossums are well adapted for climbing. The opposable toe on the hind foot acts like a thumb, allowing them to grasp small branches. An opossum can hang by its tail for a short time if at least half of the tail encircles a thick branch.
Opossums often climb trees or hide in brush heaps when chased. They are well known for “playing ‘possum”. When frightened and unable to escape, an opossum rolls over on its side, becomes limp, closes its eyes and lets its tongue hang out of its mouth. The heartbeat slows down and the animal looks dead, causing many would-be predators to lose interest. This reaction is caused by a nervous shock, but the opossum recovers quickly and takes the first opportunity to escape.
Opossums are scavengers that enter your yard in search of food and shelter. They’re very resourceful, so they will eat any kind of plant or animal matter available. They will also find shelter in any covered, dry area – from brush piles to attics. Remove these attractants to keep opossums out.
- Clean up fallen berries, fruits and birdseed.
- Avoid feeding your pets outside. If you must do so, remove all leftover food before dusk.
- Scrub grills and barbecues after every use.
- Secure garbage and compost in animal-proof containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Remove woodpiles and logs in which opossums can find shelter.
Opossum Control and Trapping in Illinois
When opossums are seen in the yard, there is no reason to control them unless their den is in a troublesome area on the property. If opossums are already living beneath a deck or stoop, trapping them humanely may be necessary, especially if the family dog is likely to attack them.
A barricade-style trap can be set in conjunction with performing a Deck or Stoop Screen Up. This ensures that once the animals are trapped, the problem will never reoccur. It also ensures that only the animals beneath the stoop or deck are trapped, since putting a trap out in the open can result in non-target captures.
Sometimes opossums die under stoops and decks. Whether they are ill from infection, injured in fights with dogs or hit by cars, an injured opossum will often travel home to die in its own burrow. Removing a dead animal from under a stoop or deck can be a time-consuming and sometimes costly process that can take the better part of a day to perform. Screening Up decks and stoops in advance prevents this undesirable event from occurring.
We are a professional opossum removal and pest control business based out of south IL. Possums tend to cause the following problems:
- Possum stealing pet food
- Possum appears threatening
- Mother possum living in attic
- Possum living under porch or shed
- Dead possum on property
- We can solve any problem/conflict with opossums.
The opossum is an unusual animal. It is North America’s only marsupial. The babies are born extremely tiny, and then they enter the pouch and attach to a nipple. The opossum has 13 nipples. As they grow, they crowd each other out, until only 4-5 are left at the end, and then they leave and start lives of their own. Opossums have 50 teeth, tiny brains, bifurcated peni, opposable thumbs, and prehensile tails.