Simple Mistakes That Are Attracting Opossums To Your Yard

No one wants a hoard of opossums setting up shop in their backyard. These furry pests are about the size of a cat and can be differentiated from the similar-looking possum by their bald tail. While they are fairly docile creatures – and tend to play dead when faced with danger as opposed to attacking — that doesn't mean they aren't troublesome. If opossums decide to make your backyard home, it's probably because it has the perfect conditions to set up a nest. Whether that's because you have plenty of insects and rodents they can eat or sufficient hiding spots they can cozy into, they have deemed it a safe and opportune place to den. 

According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, they can transmit diseases such as tuberculosis, spotted fever, and toxoplasmosis. They are also known to carry things such as lice, ticks, and fleas. To keep yourself safe from these dangers, it's best to keep them out of your yard. As anyone can attest, it's much easier to prevent a problem from happening in the first place than to fix it, so your best course of action is to ensure you're not accidentally attracting opossums to your yard — here are some common mistakes that might be luring opossums onto your property.

You have attractive shelter

Since opossums are relatively timid animals, they want to ensure that their shelter is as safe and out of reach from predators as possible. If you have a problem with these pests, your backyard probably has some attractive spots to nest. For example, if you have a deck or porch, is the underside of it securely closed with lattices, walls, or screens? If not, chances are they will make a beeline for the low-traffic, dark nooks underneath. If the underside is securely closed, do those barriers have any holes in them? If they do, leaving them unmended can attract these animals to set up shop. 

You should also remove any debris from your yard that can double as a home — things like large piles of leaves, stacked wood against your house or shed, or piles of rubble from a project can create cozy enclaves for them. Lastly, having plenty of shrubs or trees with branches low to the ground can create attractive hiding spots. Make sure to cut them back routinely so there is visible space underneath.

You have food sources in your yard

Another mistake that could be attracting the neighborhood opossums to your yard is having food sources available. If you have fruit trees in your yard, make sure you don't have any fallen fruit littering your grass or garden. These sugary treats will have these marsupials instantly sniffing around your property. Make sure to pick your fruit consistently, and don't allow any to go bad on the ground. In a similar vein, if you feed your pets outside, leaving their pet bowls overnight or not sweeping up their kibble crumbs is another mistake that will guarantee a pest problem. This will be interpreted as easy access to nutritional food, and your yard will be earmarked as a convenient place to nest.

Secondly, letting a rodent or insect problem persist in your yard will also attract these critters to your property. In terms of bugs, opossums aren't picky eaters, and they snack on everything from snails to cockroaches to crickets. As for rodents, they eat everything from mice to rats (and even snakes!). If you want to keep opossums out of your yard, your first solution needs to be to exterminate these pests, or else your yard will continue to look appealing.