Tracks

Opossum tracks are quite distinctive and look like mini hands with widely spread fingers, pointing as much as 90 degrees away from the direction of travel. The front paws have five toes all with visible claws. The back paws have four clawed toes and one clawless with opposable toes off to the sides. Opossum tracks can be found in mud, snow, or fine soil, deck railings, downspouts, and other surfaces that opossums use to gain access to structures.

Droppings/Scant

Opossum droppings are not easily found, and can be seen along trails they use, favorite feeding spots, inside attics, sheds, or inside coops that they invade. Opossum droppings vary in appearance according to the animal’s diet and may resemble the droppings of house cats and small domestic dogs, coyotes, and foxes.

Sounds

Opossums don't typically make alot of noise, but when frightened or threatened they growl and hiss.
Opossum map

The Opossum

The opossum, sometimes referred to as a 'possum', is a marsupial that appearance-wise is known for it's rat-like tail and pointy face. Sometimes they are mistaken for a large cat, for their similarities in size (opossums grow to an average length of 21 to 36 inches (53 to 91 cm), from nose to tip of their tail. Opossums weigh from 4 to 15 lbs (1.8 to 6.8 kg). Opossums are nocturnal--meaning they are most active at night--and will usually hide out in the daytime hours underground, in trees, or in burrows or cavities they either find or make themselves. Adult opossums tend to be solitary.

Random Facts About Opossums


  • One opossum kills as many as 4,000 ticks per week.
  • The opossum is actually related to the kangaroo.
  • Opossums eat rattlesnakes---as they are immune to their venom.

Opossum Habitats


The types of places that opossums may reclaim as their den consist of garages, building foundations, inside of burrows, hollow logs, sheds, rock crevices, chimneys, attics, and sometimes squirrels' nests. To avoid predators, opossums may move to a different den every few days. At night, opossums forage in areas near their current dens, but will travel up to 2 miles in search of food.

Opossum Behavior


When opossums feel like they are potentially threatened or in danger, they often assume their characteristic 'possum' position, in which they pretend to be dead and mimick the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. They will even foam saliva from the mouth and secrete a foul-smelling fluid from their anal gland. In minutes or hours, the opossum will regain consciousness and escape quietly.

Regulatory Laws pertaining to Opossums


Before taking control measures, check local regulations, as opossums might be protected. If you aren’t sure of the infesting pest or that you can humanely capture it, we always recommend contacting a pest control professional for an evaluation.

Exclusion

Don't Provide Access to Garbage : Opossums are attracted to pet food, trash bins, uneaten poultry feed, bird feeders and chicken coops. Keep your garbage can lid on tight by securing it with rope, chain, bungee cords, or weights. To prevent tipping, secure side handles to metal or wooden stakes driven into the ground. Or keep your cans in tight-fitting bins, a shed, or a garage. Put garbage cans out for pickup in the morning, after opossums have returned to their resting areas.

Barbecue Grills : Clean barbecue grills and grease traps thoroughly following each use.

Eliminate potential den sites : Do not store wood piles nearby and close off access to chimneys, attics, and spaces underneath buildings. by installing steel wire mesh or sheet metal, covering all openings. Fix any broken vents, screens, foundation and siding that opossums can enter to make a den.

Trimming trees and shrubs : Trim tree branches that hang within 10 feet of your roof or poultry enclosure, to prevent opossums from climbing them and jumping down. Opossums are skilled tree climbers and are able to jump up to 10 feet.

Eliminate Access Points : To prevent opossums from accessing birds in their night roosts, equip chicken coops with well fitted doors and secure locking mechanisms. An opossum’s dexterous paws make it possible for it to open various types of fasteners, latches, and containers.

Fully Enclose Outside Pens : Completely enclose outdoor pens with 1/2 inch woven wire fencing placed over a sturdy wooden framework. Any fencing must be at least 3-4 feet high. Overlap and securely wire all seams on top and/or add an outward angle at the top of the fence to prevent opossums from forcing their way inside by using their weight.

References

  1. Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage. Editors, Scott E. Hygnstrom, Robert M. Timm, Gary E. Larson. 1994. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2 vols.
  2. Designs, H. (2014). National Trappers Association - Opossum. Nationaltrappers.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://www.nationaltrappers.com/opossum.html
  3. Extension.org,. (2014). Opossum Damage Management - eXtension. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://www.extension.org/pages/8759/opossum-damage-management#.VIKvwzHF98E
  4. National Geographic,. (2014). Opossums, Opossum Pictures, Opossum Facts - National Geographic. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/opossum/
  5. Wdfw.wa.gov,. (2014). Opossums - Living with Wildlife
  6. Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/opossums.html
  7. Www3.ag.purdue.edu,. (2014). Opossums -Wildlife Conflicts Information Website. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://www3.ag.purdue.edu/entm/wildlifehotline/Pages/opossums.aspx
  8. http://blog.nwf.org/2017/06/opossums-unsung-heroes-in-the-fight-against-ticks-and-lyme-disease/