Keeping Opossums Away From Garbage Cans

Opossums are omnivorous and will eat almost anything. In their natural habitat, this includes grains, nuts, vegetation, bugs, mice, carrion, and even snakes. As they adapt to the urban environment, their food supplies extend to roadkill, pet food, compost, and garbage. Opossums can make quite a racket and mess digging through your trash cans at night, and sometimes get trapped inside, unable to climb back out.

There are ways to keep opossums out of your garbage. Solutions include looking at the suitability of the container itself, methods of securing the lid, and even using repellents to keep them away.

Start With The Can

The Trash Can

The best long-term solution is to start with the trash can itself.

  • If you haven’t already, buy a sturdy garbage can.
  • If you currently have a plastic bin and there are chew marks on it, replace it with a metal can with a tight-fitting lid.
  • If you want to stick with plastic, then make sure the can is heavy-duty and highly durable.

Secure the Lid

Once you’ve got a suitable container, you want to make sure that you can secure the lid. There are different types of lid-locks, clamps, animal-proof straps, and products available on the market, or you can DIY using rope, chains, or bungee cord. If you have a classic metal trash can, feed your chosen cable through the lid’s handle and then tie it securely to the can’s handles on either side.

An alternative to tying the lid on is to weigh it down with something heavy, like a brick (or two). Again, it should be heavy enough to keep the opossum out, but light enough that taking the trash out isn’t a huge task.

Secure the Bin

The variations in bin design between plastic and metal mean that you may need to assess the bin yourself and experiment a little to determine the best way to fasten it. It needs to be secure enough that the opossum can’t get it, but easy enough for you to undo so you can still take out the trash.

Can Contents

Don’t Let It Overflow

The first tip here is: don’t let your garbage can overflow. If this is a common occurrence, then upgrade to a larger bin. Overflowing bins put out a welcome mat for the possum; they are easy to access, and the smell is a lot more noticeable and acts as a calling card for animals.

Repel the Opossums

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the scent that attracts them, try applying scents that will repel them. Make a solution that’s half water, half ammonia, and spray it onto the side of your garbage can. You can also keep an ammonia-soaked rag at the bottom of your bin. The fumes will rise and permeate the contents of the bin, so none of it smells like food to the opossum.

Trapped Opossums

Opossums can climb up onto or into garbage cans, but aren’t always able to get back out. If strange noises are coming from your trash in the morning and you find an opossum still inside, don’t panic. Opossums are relatively docile creatures and are unlikely to attack you; they just want to get out.

Gently tip the bin onto its side (open end facing away from you), and the opossum will scamper out and head home.