Dealing With Opossums in The House

Alert! There has been a breach! An opossum has entered the area!

A rogue opossum has dared to enter your home, and now you must defend your family from the terrors it presumes to inflict on you.

Luckily for you, opossums can’t inflict much of anything on humans. Remember the old adage your dad used to say about spiders?

It’s more scared of you than you are of it.

That definitely rings true here. So please, put down that rolling pin and collect yourself.

Naturally Docile

Firstly, opossums are naturally docile and rarely act aggressively. They will only do so if they feel cornered, or if escape is not an option. Even then, they will rarely progress past hissing and baring of teeth. 

What to Do

To be safe when dealing with an opossum, wear thick clothes and especially gloves, to stop you from coming into contact with any potential pathogens.

The best-case scenario would be that the opossum has made its way inside, and just as it gets past the door, there you are, with a broomstick in hand to gently usher it back to the place from whence it came. If this is indeed the case, you have done the right thing. A broom or other long implement makes sure you don’t come into contact with it. Be patient with the animal and give it time to leave. Give it a gentle nudge to get it back outside if it seems confused.

If the opossum has boldly ventured further into your house, dealing with it may require some additional maneuvers on your part.

  • Make sure to close off any exits that do not lead to the outdoors. If necessary, make a temporary route with cardboard to the door, and seal off the other end. Then, simply leave the animal to wander back outside.
  • If the above still doesn’t work, consider using food as an incentive. Pet food or leftover meat and fish are good bets. Leave a trail of small morsels leading to the outdoors.

What Not to Do

The important thing is not to harass the opossum too much. If they feel threatened, they may employ defense mechanisms. Their main mechanism is to play dead. When opossums sense an imminent attack from a predator, they go into an involuntary state of comatose. In a natural setting, a predator will consider the movement of prey a trigger to begin the hunt, and playing dead removes that stimulus. To add to the deception, opossums commonly emit a foul-smelling fluid from their anal glands, which can give the impression that the “corpse” has already begun to rot.

To avoid this, and you do want to avoid this, keep any pets away from the intruder, and give it space. If luring with food is not working, another option is using a snare rod or another kind of long tool to manually remove the animal. However, snare rods are specialist equipment, so unless you’re a wildlife expert or a dog catcher, you likely don’t own one. If manual removal is your aim, you can do it by hand. By gently approaching the animal and distracting it with one hand (either by waving or coaxing it with food), you can use your other hand to pick it up by its tail and bring it outside. Make sure to hold the animal away from your body.