Need Training?

Click the image

National Wildlife Control Training Program vol. 1.

Opossum Control

Opossum, Didelphis virginanusScientific Name: Didelphis virginianus


Photo Credits: NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Photo



  • Does not hibernate
  • Opossum hair Description: has a unique feel and coloring Photo Credits: Dallas Virchow
  • Nocturnal
  • Marsupial, young are carried in pouch
  • Can excrete (not spray) a skunk-like oily substance from anal area when frightened.
  • Also they make screeching noises or roll over, play dead, salivate, loll tongue.
  • Opossum bearing teeth. Photo by Kevin Clark of Critter ControlOpossum baring teeth as a form of defense. See image to right. Photo Credits: Kevin Clark of Critter Control. Opossums will also hiss in an attempt to frighten away creatures they feel threatened by.



  • Skunk like odor can sometimes be percieved.
  • Opossum tracks are very distinctive. See image on lower right.


Opossum tracks, front and hind foot. Image by Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, 1994
  • Omnivores: Opossums will predate on chickens and grapes.
  • Will reside under sheds, decks and crawl spaces. Rarely will they be found in attics.
  • Will sometimes damage turf in search of worms and grubs.

Control Methods

Habitat Modification

  • Clean up of compost and garbage sites can help
  • Cover trash cans
  • Prevent access to sheds, decks and crawl spaces by trenchscreening.
  • Electric fencing can be effective in keeping opossums away from areas in need of protection, like horse barns.

Frightening Devices

None known to be effective in the long-term.


None known.


Opossums are relatively easy to capture with traps.

  • #1 foot-holdsKevin Clark with opossum. Photo by Critter Control
  • #160 body gripping traps
  • 10x12x30 cage trapsraps opossum in cage

Description: shows opossum in cage Photo Credits: Kevin Clark of Critter Control. Always wear gloves when handling traps. Heavy gloves used to handle wildlife. Photo by Dallas VirchowHeavy gloves Description: These and other protective clothing may be necessary when handling animals Photo Credits: Dallas Virchow



  • .22 cal. shooting (where legal).


None available

Biohazards associated with opossumsDiseases-Safety

Rabies: Opossums are relatively resistant to rabies. Howevever as the information below shows, they, like all mammals, can carry rabies.

12th Rabid Animal for 2004 in Hamilton Co.

The opossum was located at 1038 Lansdell Rd, East Ridge TN 37412; the lab form we sent incorrectly had Landsdell instead of Lansdell. Our county GIS map maker shows the coordinates as 85º 12' 6"W   34º 59' 32.9N" Source: David Hunter Environmental Program Manager Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department (423)209-8123

Equine Protozoal Myloencephalitis: is a major threat to horses. Click Equine Protozoal Myloencephalitis to learn more.


Legal issues related to opossumsLegal Issues

Opossums are generally considered game and furbearer animals and therefore accorded certain legal protections.

Living With Opossums

Publications & Resources













Skip Navigation Links