Opossums are a common animal across the nation. Unique and fascinating, they are North America’s only marsupial and have several strange behaviors. Best known for their ability to “play dead” when threatened, they are mostly gentle, nocturnal animals that keep our tick, snail, and slug populations at bay.

The decline in their natural habitats has made opossums a more frequent sight in neighborhoods, and they’ve become well-adapted to living among humans in more urban and suburban areas. As omnivores and opportunistic eaters, they are just as happy eating our trash and outdoor pet food as they are consuming their usual diet of fruits, vegetables, insects, and eggs.

Signs of Opossums in the Attic

Like many other nuisance pests that are skilled climbers, it is not uncommon to find an opossum in the attic. Some common signs include:

  • Scratching, scampering, and rustling sounds coming from the attic, especially at night when they are awake and active. Strange noises in the attic also include their vocalizations, such as grunts, hisses, clicking, and screeches.
  • A distinctively musky smell that comes from their scent glands, which they use to mark their territory, and the foul smell of feces and urine.
  • An opossum nest in your attic is made of leaves, grass, paper, and other debris in the corner, along rafters, or other secluded areas of the attic.
  • Cylindrical opossum droppings that are about one to two inches in length, smooth on the sides, and curled on the ends. Older feces can be covered in a white or yellowish mold.
  • Torn insulation and gnawed wood and wires.

It can be hard to tell if the critter in your attic is a raccoon or an opossum. Raccoons make more chattering noises, and their poop looks similar to dog poop.

What Does an Opossum in the Attic Sound Like?

Opossum sounds are unique and distinctive. They vocalize mainly to communicate and for defense. If an opossum is in your attic, the sounds you’ll hear will be the sounds of it moving about — thumping and scratching.

An opossum living within your attic will be coming and going at night to look for food. So, if you hear noises in your attic but then also hear opossum noises, such as hissing, growling, chirping, or clicking, in your yard, you may have confirmation of an opossum living in your attic.

How Did an Opossum Get into the Attic?

Opossums are incredibly agile animals. In addition to their sharp claws, their long hairless tail is prehensile! Their tail acts like a thumb, enabling them to curl, grip, balance, and hang adeptly.

Opossums can get onto your roof from a tree or power line. Once on a roof, they will utilize weaknesses such as gaps, uncovered vents, uncapped chimneys, and damaged roofing to gain entry.

Problems Opossums Can Cause in Your Home

No homeowners want to share their attics with opossums for safety, health, and property damage reasons. An opossum’s menacing, rat-like presence is not only frightening upon discovery, but chances are, they’ve got young (called joeys) either within their pouch or in their nest.

Raising their joeys in a warm, safe place is the most likely reason an opossum has chosen an attic. Typically, opossums give birth to two litters per year of about eight underdeveloped joeys that continue their development in the mother’s pouch for about two and a half months. Then, they can live outside the pouch, increasing the size and complexity of the infestation.

Opossum Damage

Opossums create damage both inside and outside your home.

Within your attic, opossums will tear away insulation to use in their nest and gnaw on wood, stored possessions, and electrical wires. Chewed wires can create a fire hazard. In addition, their musky odor and the odor of their urine and feces can be difficult to remove. This damage can become costly for homeowners because of the structural and electrical damage incurred over time.

Outside in your yard, opossums will root through garden beds and trash cans. They will also dig up the lawn in search of grubs and other insects to eat. Although their foraging and feeding behavior can become frustrating for those who love to garden, it is not extensive.

Opossum Dangers

When an opossum has taken up residence in your attic, it poses health and safety risks.

  • Hearing them all night as they move about and vocalize can cause a disturbing and disruptive lack of rest.
  • Opossums are vectors for parasites, including ticks, lice, fleas, and mites. They also carry internal parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms, which can infect humans and pets through feces.
  • When they feel threatened or cornered, the dangers of opossums becoming aggressive, biting, or scratching to defend themselves are heightened.
  • While contracting rabies is not a danger as they rarely carry the disease, opossums can spread leptospirosis, e-coli, and salmonellosis.

Opossum Exclusion: How to Prevent Opossums in the Attic

The decline in natural habitats makes it more common for nuisance animals to find their way into our yards and homes. Exclusion is the proactive measures homeowners can take to deter wildlife from gaining access, thereby lessening the chances of an infestation:

  • Add regular inspections of your attic and property to identify weaknesses in your home that could provide easy access to wildlife.
  • Keep trees and bushes trimmed and away from the exterior of your house to make it harder for opossums to get onto your roof.
  • Keep the yard free of brush, leaves, fallen fruit, standing water, and other natural debris to eliminate cover where opossums could hide.
  • Install chimney caps and vent covers to openings where opossums can gain entry and use wire mesh to prevent access to the undersides of porches, decks, and sheds.
  • Keep trash tightly closed, and don’t leave pet food out in the yard.
  • Use a professional service to do an annual inspection and set up a preventative program.

How to Get Rid of Opossums in the Attic

Many homeowners opt to try DIY methods of opossum removal before calling a professional wildlife removal company. Opossums, like any wildlife, should be handled with care and compassion.

Opossum Repellents and Other DIY Removal Options

There are over-the-counter products that claim positive results but rarely work effectively. These products include ultrasonic pest repellers, sachets with scents such as peppermint that are unpleasant to opossums, predator urine, motion-activated lights and sounds, and more. These products have limited results as opossums become used to these tactics and are smart enough to realize they don’t pose a danger to them.

Trapping and relocating opossums on one’s own is not only unsafe but illegal in most states. In addition, it is not humane as the health and survival of relocated opossums is greatly reduced.

Professional Opossum Removal Services

A professional wildlife removal company has the experience and expertise to quickly, effectively, and humanely eliminate opossums from an attic. It eliminates the risk of being injured by an animal that has become aggressive when cornered or contracting an illness or parasite from being in the presence of its feces and urine.

One of the best benefits of hiring a wildlife removal company such as Critter Control is that you can set up a free inspection first and will be presented with a custom plan for eliminating the opossums and excluding them from returning. And, Critter Control will restore your attic to its original state by conducting repairs and cleaning and sanitizing.

Call Critter Control today to get started at 1-800-Critter to learn more and schedule your free inspection.

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