Common Issues Opossums Cause

The North American Opossum, Virginia Opossum, or just plain Possum, is the only marsupial on the North American continent. As true omnivores, they eat anything and everything, and require plenty of feeding before they’re satisfied. This wide and voracious appetite can cause plenty of problems, especially since the possum is adept at living in urban environments and causes plenty of conflict with its human neighbors. Here, we’re going to look at common problems caused by possums.


We’ll start out small and move on to bigger problems. For people who have had to deal with possums nesting, they know how bad this smell can be. The possum has evolved to produce a foul odor that smells like rotting meat. This has evolved as part of their defense mechanism (playing possum) and is something that is deeply unpleasant. The smell is nauseating, and is a clear indicator that you have a possum nesting around your home. This is often a big indicator that you need to refer to critter removal services. 

While the smell doesn’t cause any long-term damage, being around in the presence of such a foul scent makes it nearly impossible to enjoy being outside your home.

Structural Damage

This is related to opossums’ nests. As an opossum builds a nest, it will often move, damage, and break things to create an environment for itself. Often the possum will nest outside, and if this isn’t on your property then it doesn’t pose too many issues. However, the possum has a track record of nesting in crawl spaces, vents, basements, and attics.  Add to that the destruction to property as well as the foul odor mentioned above, and overall the possum becomes a very unwelcome house guest.

Garden Damage

As true omnivores, the opossum will eat anything and everything. They can become highly destructive when looking for food.

  1. Lawns – Opossums will dig up large sections of a lawn as they look for grubs, worms, and other organisms living in the soil. This can cause lasting damage and, because opossums are active at night, are usually not noticed until it is too late. Often, people will wake up to see their gardens full of mess with their lawn dug up.
  2. Plants – Sometimes the tempting stalks, stems, and leaves of plants fall prey to the wide diet of the opossum. This is frustrating, seeing your hard work raising flowers or vegetables decimated in a night where opossums have been feasting. What becomes more of a problem is for those that cultivate cannabis, where legal to do so. Growers are reporting that the opossum is developing a taste for the dense buds that cannabis plants develop and this could be a serious issue. Cannabis crops can be worth thousands of dollars and these can be easily destroyed in the space of a single night. Because legal cannabis cultivation is in its infancy, there isn’t conclusive evidence about what attracts the opossum to the plants; however, due to the potential cost of damages, it is best to take precautions and protect those plants.
  3. Garbage – Like the raccoon, opossums love getting into household waste. The average waste from a single home is a veritable banquet for the opossum, and their sense of smell can pick up even the faintest scent of food or something that might be food. Unless bins are properly closed, locked, and secured, opossums are very adept at getting into these bins and are not discerning about where the trash goes. They will get in and make a real mess as they search for something to eat. Humans often wake up to see bins tipped over and trash scattered all around their home. This waste will often attract other pests to your home, so it’s best to make sure garbage cans are locked away securely.


People often assume that the opossum is riddled with diseases and parasite,s and is, generally, an unclean animal. The smell opossums give off go a long way in reinforcing the idea that an opossum is best avoided. Many are surprised to learn, however, that the opossum is actually a clean animal and grooms itself often. You might also be surprised to learn that opossums are immune to lots of different diseases. They are rarely found with rabies, and aren’t transmitters of Lyme disease. 

However, opossums still carry plenty of problems around in the form of fleas and mites. As a furry creature that lives among the grass, they can become infested with these parasites. This means that whenever passing in an environment that family pets, or even family members frequent, these parasites will come into contact with humans and present very real problems. This can eventually become very expensive, as pest control can be required to eradicate this infestation.