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How to Keep Possums Away From Your Garden: According to Pest Pros

Pro tip: They don't like vinegar or hot peppers. 

About the size of a cat, possums (real name, Opossum, but most of us drop the O) are North America’s only marsupial and can be found throughout most of the United States. Though a shy, nocturnal animal, possums can be seen frequenting our backyards, our trash cans and sometimes even our garages and sheds. And while they don’t really do much damage, they can harbor certain diseases, and their urine and feces can smell. In fact, in the wild possums actually provide some valuable services in the form of eating ticks and dead animals. But that doesn’t mean you want them in your yard – even if they’re not particularly harmful and they’re not aggressive. “Like other wildlife, possums are looking for food or shelter,” says Paul Curtis, Professor of Wildlife Science at Cornell University. of the critters. “They rarely damage crops or property.” And while some find them cute, others think they look terrifying. The keys to keeping possums away are to limit or take away any opportunities they have for food or shelter. Here’s what to do if you’re plagued by the pests in your yard.

Practice exclusion to potential denning sites

Possums are shy, nocturnal animals that will run and hide if given the chance, but this means they will take advantage of openings in and under buildings and sometimes the crawl space of a home if it’s accessible. They like hidey holes like this as dens and use them to keep warm and sometimes to nest in the spring when they’re getting ready to have babies. “Keep buildings in good repair,” advises Curtis, “and use wire barriers along building foundations and under decks so that possums can’t gain access.”

And make sure you don’t put off any necessary repairs for too long. A hole in the side of a shed can provide the perfect opportunity for a possum to take up residence. Also keep in mind that if your dog or cat can fit through a pet door, so can a possum, so you may want to close those up at night. Finally, a hole in a fence can be an open invitation for an possum to visit your yard in the first place, so closing these up can also help.

See this video from AAAnimalControl that shows how to keep possums out of openings in and around your home:

Remove food sources

“They’re scavengers so when they come into your yard they’re usually looking for foods,” says Carlos Lugo, owner of Resolve Pest Management of Bayville, New Jersey, who has 14 years’ experience in solving household pest problems. To keep them away, you’ll want to clean up any rotting fruits and vegetables if you have a garden, he advises. You’ll also want to make sure garbage pail lids are securely fastened, and refrain from leaving pet food out overnight. “Taking these measures will help to make your yard unappealing to possums,” Lugo says.

See this video from Solutions Pest & Lawn that outlines various potential food sources you may need to watch out for:

Trim shrubs and bushes

Getting rid of any potential hiding spots will also help to keep your yard possum-free, says Lugo. Because possums are so shy, they can sometimes take advantage of shrubs placed too close to the home to gain access to openings. The bushes or shrubs provide a perfect hiding place for the possum to use as it skulks around the base of your home. “Keep bushes trimmed back 1 to 2 feet away from the house,” advises Lugo, “so the animal will have fewer places to hide if they do come into your yard.” And be sure to keep wood piles contained or small so they’re not a tempting hiding spot, and dispose of any large piles of leaves or other yard debris.

Related: The Genius Castor Oil Spray That Keeps Moles From Ruining Your Lawn and Garden

See this video from Trim That Weed that outlines several measures for keeping possums away:

Scare them away

Because they’re such shy animals, possums are scared off fairly easily, says Lugo. And there are several ways in which you can make your yard intimidating to these creatures. “Anything that will startle them that’s shiny or spins around and reflects light can help to keep them away,” Lugo says, advising homeowners to put them along mulch beds. “Because it’s reflective and moves when the wind blows, it helps startle a lot of animals.”

Possums are also afraid of light, so using motion lights can also help to keep them out of your yard. Finally, while not a guaranteed deterrent, having a dog that barks or a cat that patrols your yard at night can help to keep possums from entering your yard. According to Excel Pest Services, the smell from cat or dog fur can make possums think a predator is near, thus keeping them away.

See this video from Backyard University that includes several ways to keep possums away:

Keep your yard clear of debris

Possums visit your yard for food, but they’ll hang around longer if they find shelter. And just like openings in your garage, outbuildings or home can give them shelter, so can other opportunities in your yard. Yard debris like piles of cut shrubs or raked leaves and high log stacks can provide a tempting hiding or nesting opportunity for possums. This is why Lugo recommends keeping your yard clean of any sort of yard debris that would provide a space large enough for an possums to hide.

Related: 9 Smart Ways to Keep Squirrels Away From Your Garden, According to Pest Pros

Use these repellents

According to various pest experts, there are quite a few scents that can help to keep possums out of your yard. They don’t like alliums like onion and garlic, and they’re also repelled by hot peppers, moth balls and vinegar. “They also don’t like the smell of rosemary and thyme,” says Lugo. Placing any of these scents strategically around your yard will help to deter possums, but if you have pets, you’ll want to be careful using anything that wouldn’t be pet-safe.

This video by Top Repellents discusses the use of ammonia and garlic to keep possums away:

Use contained bird feeders

Just like pet food bowls left out overnight and unsealed garbage cans can provide food for possums, so can open bird feeders that spill seed onto the grass below. In fact, possums are only likely to find your feeders if the seed spills out, so using a catch basin below a feeder to catch any dropped seed is often enough to keep them away. According to the National Opossum Society, you may even have to stop feeding the birds for a few weeks if you have possums that visit your feeder regularly.

For more on pest removal, click through the links below!

9 Smart Ways to Keep Squirrels Away From Your Garden, According to Pest Pros

The Genius Castor Oil Spray That Keeps Moles From Ruining Your Lawn and Garden

10 Easy Ways To Keep Deer Away From Your Garden Without A Fence

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