Opossums

Didelphis virginiana

The size of a large cat, opossums are the only marsupial found in North America. With long, brown or gray hair and a long, scaly tail, opossums can also give off a repulsive, musk-like odor.

Opossums
Color Coat is dull grayish brown & a white face
Legs 4
Shape Long haired with scaly (prehensile) tail
Size Head & Body length 15" to 20", Weight - 9 to 13 pounds but can range from 4 to 30 pounds
Antennae False

Habits

Slow moving and nocturnal, when faced with danger opossums will often play dead by “playing possum.” They are omnivorous and eat a wide variety of plants, animals, pet food and human garbage. Though generally sluggish creatures, opossums can climb readily and use their tail to grab tree limbs or carry small objects. Although many think opossums are blind, they actually have strongly dilated pupils that allow them to see well in the dark.

Habitat

Rather than create their own homes, opossums typically seek shelter in hollow logs and trees, crawl spaces beneath structures, garages, abandoned woodchuck burrows and even squirrel’s nests.

Not ones to travel long distances to forage for food, possums are omnivores who prefer to set up camp near readily available food sources. Opossums like to eat a wide variety of foods, ranging from fruits, grasses, insects, mammals, birds, fish and even carrion. Opossums also have a knack for keeping rats and roaches at bay since they commonly compete for the same territory.

Solitary creatures, opossums can have up to two litters per year. With up to 13 babies per litter, gestation lasts only 13 days and then the newborns live in their mother’s pouch for three months until they mature.

Diseases & Other Threats

While opossums can certainly be a nuisance when nesting in and around structures, flea, tick and mite infestations have been associated with their nesting habits.

Often, when people discover an opossum, they are concerned about the potential danger they present. While they are mostly docile, aloof and rarely dangerous, opossums can attack if they feel threatened, biting back and posing a threat to house pets. And, while any mammal can get rabies, the disease is extremely rare in opossums. Since their body temperature is too low for the virus to thrive, they seem to have a natural immunity to rabies. Opossums can, however, carry other diseases like tularemia, tuberculosis, spotted fever and toxoplasmosis.

Opossum Prevention Tips

By performing exclusion methods, opossums can be prevented from entering structures. Exclusion methods entail using metal flashing and metal mesh to cover any and all possible entry routes, or in some cases by reconstructing entry areas altogether. Covering garbage cans and other readily available sources of food can also curb opossum populations. If you have dealt with an infestation in the past or live in an area where opossums and other wildlife are prevalent, you may consider enlisting professional prevention services. Learn more about our complete wildlife control services. 

Signs of an Infestation

Opossums are most often found when digging in trashcans and rustling around attics. Signs of their activity can also be detected in lawn damage where opossums have dug around for grubs and other bugs. If you hear a rustling in your garbage cans or notice any unusual activity, seek a professional wildlife inspection. You can contact us for a free home inspection anytime using the form below.

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