Can Opossums Burrow or Dig Holes?

If you have recently noticed opossums running around your yard at night, or have found mysterious holes in the areas around your fence, under your deck, or outside your garage, chances are you’re wondering exactly how those holes got there and, almost as importantly, whether they were caused by an opossum or two.

Opossum Dens

Opossums spend most of their time in trees, using their impressively adapted hands and tail to climb, jump, and hang in the branches.  However, during the day, they tend to spend their time sleeping in some kind of den or hole. 

While opossums do sometimes dig their own holes, using the same impressive paws they use to swing between the branches of trees, it is more likely that they take over the former residence of another animal like a skunk, woodchuck, or raccoon. The dens opossums typically occupy can be up to four feet deep, but the holes they dig much more often are those that they create when looking for insects to snack on.  

The main reason opossums are able to essentially steal the houses of other critters is their nocturnal nature.  Since these animals, unlike most others, are active at night, they may be able to share the home of a more diurnal family of woodchucks, for example.  If the opossum family is able to time things right, their unknowing hosts might remain just that- unknowing.

Opossums also tend to try to live in dens like these during the winter months.  Since their coats are not very insulated, it is crucial for them to find a warm place to stay during cold winter days.  In the summer they tend to simply hang out in trees for most of the day.


Even though opossums might not be the direct culprit when it comes to the larger holes in your backyard, the presence of a number of sizeable holes may also mean that opossums are occupying one or two of them.  Since opossums are hesitant to dig their own holes, they will look for other alternatives.  Those alternatives may include under your deck, porch, basement (if that is somehow accessible), or really any other place these creatures could wriggle into and set up a den.  This is not to mention the much smaller holes they tend to dig when looking for insects to snack on, which can be just as pesky.

While opossums pose one threat to your property, the holes they use may also house other unwanted visitors after the opossum leaves the den.  Animals like snakes, weasels, mice, and shrews are known to move into the same dens dug by other animals and then occupied by opossums.  Each of these critters poses totally unique potential threats to your property, animals, and family, and it is crucial to take care of these holes early, along with calling in wildlife experts to determine what kind of animals are living in those holes.