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Opossums

General Facts

The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial that is native to the United States. Opossums are generally light gray in color with phases of darker colors throughout. The tail is hairless and the female has a well developed marsupium pouch. The adult opossum is about 12 inches in height and about 32 inches long including the 12 inch tail. The opossum have sharp teeth with 10 upper incisors. Body weights vary from 2-12 Lb.

Breeding seasons for opossums is usually from February- June and they can have 1-2 litters per year. Litters of 5-13 or more are common. Newly born opossums are kidney bean sized at birth. They climb into their mothers pouch as they further develop. The young become independent at about 14 weeks old.

Opossums nest in crawl spaces and attics of homes and commercial buildings. They can also be found in dens underground, below sheds and in hollow trees and logs. They can cause structural damage. Opossums will dig up beautiful lawns in search of earthworms and grubs. They frequently raid garbage cans and tear open plastic bags set out for disposal.

 

Control

Prevention goes a long way in the control of opossums. Limiting food sources such as poorly sealed garbage cans and left over pet foods is helpful. Trimming trees and shrubs off the perimeters of the structure especially at the baseline and roofline level will discourage the opossums from climbing onto the house. Installing chimney caps will prevent opossum and other animals from falling into the chimney flue. Finally the roof, gable and crawl space vents should be inspected for structural integrity as well as the fascia boards and overhangs. Special attention should be paid at the ground level openings as opossums tend to enter structures at the base level.

Once the opossums have breached the structure and have entered the attic or crawl spaces it is necessary to remove the opossums using box traps. Baits such as cat food, dog food and fish by products work well with opossums.