What Attracts Opossums?
Although often regarded as a pest, having opossums in your yard or garden can be a natural method of handling other pests like slugs or small rodents, which may end up causing more damage than an opossum might. There are many methods available to help you attract them to your property, but similarly, they may be useful to learn if you have opossums already and want to know what might be attracting them so you can get rid of them humanely.
Unlike some other mammals, opossums cannot store food or gather and retain body fat, meaning they need to constantly forage for food to survive, even during the winter months. As a result, whilst they mainly tend to target woodland areas, opossums have even become a common sight in urban areas. That said, they are not especially territorial compared to other creatures, instead preferring to migrate from one den to another and rarely staying in one place.
If you do have opossums in your yard, it is highly likely they are being attracted to a reliable source of food and water. Most opossum species are omnivorous, meaning they will eat virtually anything, from fruits and plants to dead animals and even garbage. Like humans, opossums actually have a sweet tooth, meaning they prefer the sweeter taste of fruits. Additionally, opossums have a strong sense of smell as they are nocturnal creatures, so they are adept at smelling strong odors like meat from a long distance away.
As a result, purposefully attracting opossums with food is easy as they will eat almost anything you leave out. Be warned, however, not to leave them processed human foods like junk foods, as these can be harmful to opossums even though they will still happily eat it. Also, food left out overnight may also attract other, less desirable wildlife like skunks or raccoons.
For homeowners looking to deter opossums from staying near your home, you will want to assess your yard to see whether there are any food sources that opossums might easily be able to reach, such as trash bags, birdfeeders, fruit-bearing plants, or even compost. Then you should install features that will make it hard for the opossums to get to them.
Alternatively, the opossums may have found somewhere quiet and dry to nest down in, which in the case of your home will likely be the crawl space or possibly even your attic. Finding a warm place to sleep is vital for them as they are warm-blooded, and this is particularly the case in winter when opossums are still very much actively seeking whatever food they can find.
However, due to their nomadic nature, attracting and then keeping a particular opossum in or near your yard can prove difficult. Instead, any shelter near your home is more likely to be used by many opossums throughout the week if it is reliable.
As such, deterring opossums from your home is a case of finding nice dry places where they might nest and blocking access to them. If you know there are no nesting opossums you can simply seal up the gaps, but if in doubt you should install one-way exclusion doors so that any opossums currently using the space as a den can get out but not back in.