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How to Get Rid of Possums

Four Methods:Scaring Possums AwayMake the Area Less InvitingTrappingKeeping Possums Out

Possums are usually non-aggressive animals, but they can create unsanitary conditions and may turn aggressive if they become diseased. There are several ways to get rid of them, and most simply involve making the environment less appealing. You can also set traps to capture possums and physically remove them. Here's what you should know about getting rid of possums.

Method 1
Scaring Possums Away

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    Set up motion-activated lights or sprinklers.[1] Place motion-activated devices near the perimeter of your house, at the front of your property, around fruit trees, or on any other spots where possums frequent.
    • Motion-activated devices are triggered once the possum crosses the sensor, and once these devices turn on, they may frighten many possums away.
    • Motion-activated sprinklers tend to be slightly more effective than motion-activated lights. Lights are enough to frighten away skittish possums that are afraid of humans, but water sprinklers work better with possums that are a little more mature and a little harder to startle.
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    Scatter dog or cat fur. The smell of a potential predator might be enough to deter many possums from hanging around.
    • Do not let your dog or cat roam free through the yard for the purpose of scaring away possums. They could get into a fight with aggressive possums or other dangerous animals.
    • Collect pet hair after brushing your dog or cat. Place the hair in small mesh bags and hang them or scatter them around areas at which possums frequently gather.
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    Spread something that smells potent. Ammonia, mothballs, and garlic are all scents that possums tend to flee from.
    • Pour a small amount of ammonia into a coffee can with a lid. Place a rag inside the ammonia and bring one end up through a hole cut into the lid. The rag will act as a wick to disperse the fumes. Place one of these containers in every area where possums gather.
    • Scatter mothballs around any area where you have noticed possum activity. You can contain the mothballs in a mesh bag, or you can scatter them around individually.
    • Place a clove of crushed garlic in any area that you want neighborhood possums to avoid. Crushed garlic is better than whole garlic since crushing it first allows more of the scent to escape.
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    Apply a chemical repellent. Chemical repellents can be applied to gardens, flowerbeds, or the base of a structure.
    • Follow the instructions on the repellent to apply it safely. Most repellents consist of a powder that is sprinkled over the desired area.
    • Different repellents use different ingredients, but predator urine is often one element of it.

Method 2
Make the Area Less Inviting

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    Remove food sources. Possums are attracted to yards and homes where food is plentiful. By removing food sources, you will make your property dramatically less appealing.
    • Do not intentionally provide food for the possums. You may think that you are doing a good deed, but possums fed by humans gradually lose their fear of humans and are more likely to become aggressive when food is not given to them.
    • Prevent possums from getting into your trash. Keep the lid of your garbage cans closed by securing it with bungee cords, chains, ropes, or weights. You could also by garbage cans with lids that have clamps to keep them on. Securing side handles to stakes driven into the ground will prevent the trash bins from tipping over.[2]
    • Feed your pets indoors. If this is not possible, feed your pets outdoors in the late morning or middle of the afternoon. Remove all sources of food and water before dusk settles in, and keep pet food away from pet doors or other openings to the house.
    • Keep food in secure compost containers. Do not use open compost piles. Instead, keep the compost in covered compost structures or covered worm boxes.
    • Clean barbecue grills and grease traps after you use them.
    • Pick up fruit that drops from trees or bushes. Better yet, avoid having plants that produce appetizing fruit.
    • Avoid laying out bird seed. If you do provide bird seed, try to lay some out in the late morning or mid-afternoon and only spread enough to feed the birds for that single day. Alternatively, fill bird feeders with seed and transfer them inside each night at dusk.
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    Eliminate outdoor cover.[3] Even though possums will not make dens in outdoor covering, they may find it an appealing place to hide.
    • Mow tall grass, especially around houses and other buildings.
    • Remove piles of wood, grass clippings, or other debris. This also includes items like overturned planters or barrels.

Method 3

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    Use a live-holding cage trap.[4] Live-holding traps capture possums without hurting or killing them. They are generally preferable to quick-kill traps.
    • Note that in many states and municipalities, using quick-kill traps to dispose of possums may be restricted or prohibited. Live-holding traps are rarely banned, however.
    • Find out from your municipality if there are any restrictions on trapping. Some cities may require you to obtain a permit. Others may have specific demands about where to release the animal and who can do so.
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    Place the trap in the possum's path. Setting it near the suspected den is ideal, but any area that frequently suffers damage due to a possum is an acceptable location to choose.
    • Sit the trap on soft ground or place it on plywood if setting it on a hard surface. The trapped possum may attempt to dig its way out, and placing the trap on a protective surface will prevent it from damaging its paws.
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    Set the trap. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to bait and set the trap.
    • Set the trap at dusk to increase your odds of catching a possum, which is a nocturnal animal. Close an empty trap at dawn to prevent the accidental trapping of a diurnal animal.
    • Each cage trap is set in a slightly different manner, but most have a trigger rod or knob that must be pulled or twisted out when opening the door of the cage. When the animal steps inside, it triggers this rod and snaps the door closed. Follow the specific manufacturer's instructions that come with your cage trap for more specific directions.
    • Place a tennis ball inside the trap to give the animal a way of venting frustration inside the cage. Doing so may cause it to become tired, making it easier to release later.
    • Use appropriate bait. Fruit, berries, vegetables, raw egg, peanut butter, and sardines are attractive bait options for possums.
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    Monitor the trap. Watch the trap continually so that you will know as soon as possible whether you are successful in your efforts.
    • Once the possum is captured, move the trap to a quiet spot and cover it with a tarp until you are ready to release it. Use thick gloves or a long pole to prevent yourself from getting scratched through the cage.
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    Release the animal from the trap. Exercise caution when releasing the animal or call a wildlife professional.
    • When releasing the animal, point the opening in the direction you want the animal to run off in. Stand at the opposite end of the door and tap the trap with your foot or a long pole until the animal runs out.
    • If you suspect that the possum may bite you, attach a rope to the door before setting it so that you can open it from a distance.
    • Know your local laws concerning releasing possums and other trapped animals. Some areas may have few, if any, restrictions, in which case, you should drive the possum several miles away from your property before releasing it into a wooded area. Other areas may require that you release the possum on your property or hire a professional to release the possum.

Method 4
Keeping Possums Out

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    Cover your foundation vents.[5] One of the easiest ways for possums to sneak into your home is through the dryer vent or other vents along the foundation.
    • Block possums from sneaking in through these openings by covering them with slotted metal vent covers. These covers are screwed onto the vent and have just enough room for steam and smoke to escape but not enough for possums to sneak through.
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    Trim tree branches. Possums can sneak onto the roof if tree branches or other tall plants are positioned nearby.
    • Tree branches should be trimmed a minimum of 10 ft (3.05 m) away from the roof.
    • Do not place climbing plants near the house, especially not near the eaves areas.
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    Protect low decks. Possums have been known to hide out under low decks, so these should also be protected with some form of metal barrier.
    • Use 1/4-inch (6.35-mm) grid screening or solid metal flashing.
    • Dig a trench around the perimeter of the deck. The hole should be at least 12 inches (30.5 cm) deep.
    • Place the screening or flashing in the trench. The barrier should extend from the bottom of the hole to the bottom or underside of the deck.
    • Fill the trench in with dirt, packing it down in place to prevent the screening from being jolted or wiggled around.
    • Attach the top of the screening to the deck. Nails or fence post staples usually work best.
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    Create a temporary one-way exit for any trapped possums to escape through. If you suspect that possums might be trapped below your deck, provide them with a temporary means of escape.
    • Instead of sealing up the final section of screening, use 1/4-inch (6.35-mm) grid screening to form a funnel.
    • The large end should be big enough for a possum to fit through and should be attached to the barrier using nails or fence post staples.
    • The small end should extend away from the building and should have a hole roughly 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) in diameter. This will allow possums to squeeze their way out but not squeeze their way in.
    • Keep this passage open for a few days to one week before sealing up the hole.
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    Seal any other open spaces. Your home may have other open spaces that will appear inviting to a possum looking for a warm home or a free meal.
    • Attic vents and chimneys should be covered with 1/4-inch (6.35-mm) grid screening. You could also use insect screening over the vents or you have a chimney cap installed.
    • Repair any holes in deck lattices, window screens, or door screens.
    • If you live in a mobile home, cover the open space below the home with wire cloth. Make sure that the barrier extends from the ground all the way up to the bottom of the trailer. Cement block and wood lattice can also be used.
    • Lock or cover pet doors at night.


  • Exercise extreme caution when releasing a trapped animal.[6] When trapped, animals often lash out in fear, and you may be scratched or bitten if you are not careful.

Things You'll Need

  • Slotted metal vent covers
  • Grid screening
  • Nails or fencing staples
  • Motion-activated lights or sprinklers
  • Dog or cat fur
  • Ammonia
  • Strawberries
  • Urine
  • Chemical repellent
  • Live-holding cage trap

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