Whether you’re lounging on your back deck or crossing through your yard after a late-night trip to a store, a few things are quite as unnerving as seeing a possum skitter by and run under your deck, shed, or house. Even if you don’t dislike possums, that doesn’t mean you want them to make your property their home. Since that’s the case, the first thing you might want to figure out if you see one is how to get rid of possums.
In most cases, the first step you want to take if you’re dealing with possums on your property is to eliminate food and water sources. Additionally, make sure that they can’t find a place for shelter. Then, use various deterrents to discourage them from staying.
Which deterrents you want to use may vary based on personal preference, affordability, and other factors. Plus, in some cases, you might need a professional to handle your problem. If you want to learn how to get rid of possums under your deck, shed, or house here’s what you need to know.
- Are Possums Dangerous?
- How to Get Rid of Possums Under Your Deck, Shed, or House
- 1. Remove Food and Water Sources
- 2. Eliminate Shelters
- 3. Install Fencing
- 4. Peppermint Oil
- 5. Cayenne Pepper
- 6. Garlic
- 7. Vinegar
- 8. Ultrasonic Repellers
- 9. Motion-Activated Lights
- 10. Motion-Activated Sprinklers
- 11. Own a Dog or Cat
- 12. Predator Urine
- 13. Commercial Rodent Spray
- 14. Ethical Traps
- 15. Call a Professional
- What Attracts Possums to Your House?
- Will Bleach Keep Possums Away?
- What Smells Do Possums Hate?
- Does Ammonia Repel Possums?
- Do Mothballs Work Against Possums?
- What Is the Best Way to Get Rid of a Possum?
Are Possums Dangerous?
Possums – technically referred to as opossums – aren’t typically aggressive. While they might hiss and show their teeth, their goal isn’t to start a confrontation. Instead, they’re hoping to scare you off.
However, if a possum is cornered, it may try to bite or scratch if you get close. Primarily, that’s because they will defend themselves if they feel threatened.
If bitten or scratched, you are at risk of various infections, including bacterial and viral. The same is true for pets. Possums can carry leptospirosis, tuberculosis, rabies, and other diseases. As a result, immediate medical attention is recommended.
Possum droppings are also potentially dangerous to people, pets, and livestock. The droppings can carry a variety of diseases and parasites, creating another risk for illness. Since that’s the case, it’s usually wise to get rid of possums that are trying to make your deck, shed, or house their home.
How to Get Rid of Possums Under Your Deck, Shed, or House
1. Remove Food and Water Sources
In most cases, possums prefer to stay in areas where food and water are reasonably plentiful. Removing food and water sources makes your yard less appealing for a long-term stay.
If you’re trying to figure out how to keep possums away, make sure trash cans are sealed and clean up any fallen garden fruit and vegetables, as well as dropped food. Don’t feed cats or dogs outside, as kibble is potentially appealing to possums. Drain any standing water and fence-off ponds, bird baths, or similar potential water sources.
Possums also eat insects. Since that’s the case, treating your yard and home to prevent pests can reduce a possum’s access to a food source. Using deterrents that keep insects away is also a potentially effective option.
2. Eliminate Shelters
Exclusion is the process of ensuring that possums can’t get into the areas under your deck, shed, or house. Check for holes large enough for possums to fit through, and cover them if you spot any.
Additionally, make sure that there aren’t any large bushes, thick brush, or decent-sized firewood piles outside. These can also serve as shelter, so it’s best to ensure that there aren’t any ground-level areas that could give a possum a place to hide.
3. Install Fencing
Fences create physical barriers that aren’t always easy for possums to cross. Generally, you want to use at least 4 feet tall fencing.
Metal or similarly smooth fencing is the best choice, as slicker surfaces are harder to climb. Make sure any gaps are too small for a possum to squeeze through. Additionally, ensure the top angles outward and away from your yard or garden, or use a coyote roller at the top, as that can make it challenging for a possum to climb over.
4. Peppermint OilThe smell of peppermint is unpleasant to possums and many types of pests. Usually, you can create your open peppermint oil spray relatively easily and affordably. Then, you can apply it strategically to keep possums away.
Take a spray bottle filled with water and add about 10 drops of peppermint oil. Put in a few drops of liquid dish soap and close the bottle. Shake the contents to combine and liberally spray areas you want possums to avoid.
Just be aware that peppermint oil deters a wide variety of animals. Additionally, while it’s typically safe for people, it can harm the respiratory system of some pets. As a result, it’s usually better to only use peppermint oil sprays in areas where pets don’t roam.
5. Cayenne PepperAnother natural deterrent is cayenne pepper. The spiciness is generally unpleasant and acts as an irritant, which can cause possums to leave the area.
Usually, liberally sprinkling cayenne pepper in spots you want possums to avoid is enough. You can also create a spray by adding cayenne pepper to boiling water, letting it cool, and putting it in a spray bottle.
As with peppermint oil, cayenne pepper is usually a safe option for people, though it can still be an irritant. Additionally, it will irritate many types of wildlife and pets. Make sure you only use it in areas where young children who may interact with it and pets aren’t likely to go.
Possums aren’t big fans of garlic. They find the odor unpleasant and don’t like the taste, so they’ll usually avoid areas with significant amounts of garlic.
There are several ways to use garlic as a deterrent. Crushed cloves placed in areas where possums may hide out can work. You can also try store-bought minced garlic if you’d like.
Mixing minced garlic and water can also let you create an effective spray. This option is potentially ideal since it’s easy to reapply the scent as needed.
Vinegar has a potent odor that many animals find unpleasant. Sometimes, it will repel possums, which is an option worth considering. It’s also a natural solution, which some people prefer over chemicals.
The main issue with vinegar is that the odor doesn’t last long, so frequent reapplication is required. Additionally, vinegar can harm – or potentially kill – your lawn or outdoor plants. In most cases, pets don’t like the smell of vinegar either, so it’s not a good option for areas that your pets use.
8. Ultrasonic RepellersUltrasonic repellers use sound that many types of animals find unpleasant to deter them from entering the area. Since they’re sound-based, they’re safe to use and don’t cause direct harm. Some models also come with other features – like flashing lights – to further deter pests.
Along with plug-in models, there are solar-powered ultrasonic repellers. The latter gives you more options for positioning, making it possible to set them near unpowered sheds or directly under decks that don’t have plugs beneath.
One issue with ultrasonic repellers is that they can bother many animals, including wildlife, pets, and livestock. As a result, they’re usually only a good solution if you want your yard and home animal-free.
9. Motion-Activated LightsMotion-activated lights work as deterrents because they startle possums when they turn on. The bright flash of light impacts their vision and is potentially interpreted as a threat. As a result, most possums will flee the area.
Using battery-operated or solar motion-activated lights can work better than relying solely on house-mounted lights. You can position battery-operated and solar motion-activated lights in nearly any spot in your yard, suggesting the latter option gets enough daylight. As a result, you can keep them close to places where possums may try to take shelter or feed.
The benefit of motion-activated lights as they do nothing more than scare the possum. However, one drawback is that some possums get used to them, causing them to no longer work well as a deterrent. In some cases, changing the position of the lights can prevent that from happening, but that won’t always do the trick.
10. Motion-Activated SprinklersAs with motion-activated lights, motion-activated sprinkler work because they startle possums. The movement, sound, and spray make them believe they’re in danger, causing the possum to flee to an area it deems safer.
The benefit of motion-activated sprinklers is that they don’t cause physical harm. In the worst-case scenario, the possum gets scared and becomes damp.
Just be aware that possums can get used to this type of deterrent. Once they know the sprinklers aren’t dangerous, they may ignore them. However, changing the position regularly becomes less likely, so reposition the motion-activated sprinkler often for the best results.
11. Own a Dog or Cat
While you shouldn’t get a dog or cat solely to keep possums out of your yard, owning one can reduce the chances that a possum will stay on your property. Possums view dogs and cats as potential threats. As a result, they’re less likely to stick around if they know a dog or cat lives in your yard and home.
Sometimes, a direct encounter with your dog or cat isn’t necessary. Your pet’s odor alone may make possums concerned about a potential predator in the area. If that occurs, they’ll steer clear even if they don’t engage with your pet.
12. Predator UrinePredator urines is a scent-based deterrent that introduces smells that possums associate with predators that consider them food sources. Generally, wolf, coyote, and fox urine products are potentially effective.
However, you need to choose predator urine based on what may attack a possum and what’s common in your area. Recognition of the scent is a critical part of the equation. As a result, don’t choose urine from an animal that doesn’t live in your region.
Additionally, it’s critical to note that urine products have a distinct smell that isn’t pleasant. People and pets may react to the odor, so this approach is usually best only in spots not frequented by people or pets.
13. Commercial Rodent Spray
Commercial rodent sprays come in a variety of forms. Some use a combination of natural ingredients to deter possums and various rodents, while others rely on a range of chemicals.
Usually, commercial rodent sprays are scent-based deterrents. Like the other smell-oriented approaches, reapplying regularly is essential for effectiveness. Otherwise, the scent dissipates so it won’t bother possums.
Whether these options are safe for people, pets, or livestock depends on their makeup. Some natural versions are generally safe, but they’ll bother many animals. Chemicals could be dangerous depending on their composition, so research the ingredients and review warning labels before using them.
14. Ethical TrapsIf a possum isn’t deterred by any of the options above, or you want to ensure it moves on fast, you could try ethical traps. Ethical traps are designed to not cause any physical harm. Instead, they contain the possum so that it’s possible to safely relocate it.
Trapping comes with risk, as you have to interact with the trap to move the possum and release it. Additionally, you can accidentally capture animals that you weren’t trying to catch. Finally, you have to check the trap regularly to ensure you act quickly once you trap the possum.
It’s also critical to note that trapping and releasing isn’t always legal, depending on where you live. As a result, you may need to work with a licensed professional to trap to use this approach.
15. Call a Professional
Sometimes, calling a professional to deal with a possum on your property is best. If you see any signs that the possum is potentially ill, contact your local animal or wildlife control office. They’ll be able to handle the situation safely and can conduct tests to determine if there are any risks to people or wildlife in the area.
As mentioned above, only licensed professionals can trap possums in some areas. If deterrents aren’t working or there are specific circumstances – such as a possum that’s recently given birth and isn’t inclined to leave – a professional can relocate the possum.
Professionals can often make recommendations about exclusion efforts and other steps you can take to prevent possums from returning. As a result, their guidance can provide substantial value, too.
What Attracts Possums to Your House?
Generally, possums are attracted to a property with good shelter and reliable food and water sources. Underneath decks and sheds, crawlspaces, inside sheds, and similar areas are all attractive places to reside, at least for the short term. Pet food, fallen garden vegetables and fruits, or many insects can serve as a dependable meal, making a property more attractive.
Sometimes, fallen birdseed is enough to make a possum consider sticking around. Access to pet water dishes, bird baths, ponds, or similar water sources can also attract possums to your house.
Will Bleach Keep Possums Away?
Bleach does have a strong odor, and it may deter possums. The scent doesn’t last long in the open, so it may only work in enclosed spaces.
Additionally, bleach isn’t the safest solution. It’s a harmful chemical that threatens people, pets, and various types of wildlife.
However, you can consider using bleach to clean out trash cans that stay outside. Bleach isn’t just effective at disinfecting – something worth considering, as trash cans can harbor bacteria – but the residual smell might prevent possums from viewing trash cans as a potential source of meals.
What Smells Do Possums Hate?
Garlic, peppermint, and cayenne pepper are usually your best scent-based deterrents. They’re generally safe to use and reasonably effective. Just be aware that you’ll want to keep pets away from any of the areas you use them in, and it’s best to keep children away from cayenne pepper since it’s a potential irritant.
Vinegar is also unpleasant to possums but is harder to use since it dissipates relatively quickly, and as a result, it may only work in enclosed areas.
Does Ammonia Repel Possums?
While the smell of ammonia may repel possums, it isn’t the best solution. Ammonia is a potential health risk to people, pets, and other wildlife, so using it broadly in your yard or around your home isn’t always wise.
Additionally, the smell of ammonia won’t last long, requiring frequent reapplication or use in enclosed areas. Still, since it’s a potential health hazard, it isn’t necessarily recommended as a deterrent in any capacity.
Do Mothballs Work Against Possums?As with ammonia, the scent of mothballs isn’t necessarily pleasant to possums. However, the health risks of using mothballs are significant. Exposure to vapors and accidental consumption are both dangerous to people, pets, and wildlife.
Additionally, naphthalene mothballs are highly combustible, and as a result, using them creates a fire risk, regardless of the quantity used.
Generally, the scent of mothballs is only potentially deterring if used in enclosed spaces. However, due to the potential risks, it isn’t a recommended solution.
What Is the Best Way to Get Rid of a Possum?
Generally, the best way to get rid of a possum is to use a multi-step approach. Remove food and water sources and eliminate potential shelters. Use a mix of low-risk deterrents to make your property less inviting. If that doesn’t work, consider more aggressive deterrents. Contact a professional if the possum still won’t leave or exhibits signs of illness.
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