Trapping Opossums

How to trap opossums for opossum control.

Like the kangaroo, this unique mammal has an abdominal pouch for carrying her young.

Biology & Habits

Opossums have a repulsive, musk-like odor and can be an occasional nuisance when they enter crawl spaces, under decks, garages, and similar areas.

They nurse in the mother's pouch for about three months. The average number of young is 6, but as many as 13 may be born.

  • The opossum is 2-3 feet long. Its head is white to yellowish with a pink nose, black eyes, and bluish-black, naked ears.
  • Adults are long-haired, light-gray, and about the size of a large cat weighing 4-15 lbs.
  • It has a long scaly tail, black at its base, grading to yellow-white or pink for the rest of its length.

Opossums and Rabies

Opossums are very resistant to rabies and have far fewer rabies cases than any other common wild animal in the United States.

Important Exception with Horses: Opossums are a primary carrier of a deadly disease in horses known as Protozoal Myeloencephalitis. Steps should be taken to keep opossums away from horses, horse feed, and stables.


The opossum is a shy and secretive animal that is seldom seen because it is abroad mostly at night. Perhaps it is most often observed along highways in the glare of automobile headlights as it feeds on animals killed by traffic.

While opossums tend to wander a great deal and frequently shift their home sites, individuals spend most of their lives within about 40 acres. Opossums often climb trees or brush heaps in an attempt to escape when pursued.

When frightened, the animal rolls over on its side, shuts its eyes, becoming limp. The opossum is "playing possum," with its heartbeat slowing down to the appearance of death. This action is a reaction to a nervous shock; the opossum can recover.

Opossums eat fish, birds, mammals, crustaceans, insects, mushrooms, fruits, grass, eggs, and dead animals.


They prefer to live in wooded areas, near streams. They choose home sites such as hollow logs, abandoned woodchuck burrows, under buildings and decks, in garages, trash heaps, or cavities in hollow trees.

Opossum Control

How To Trap Opossums

Denying their access to structures by exclusion techniques is the most effective method of controlling opossums.

Live animal traps such as Havahart Raccoon Traps or the easy to set Havahart 1085 Easy Set Cage Style Animal Live Trap can be used to capture and relocate them.

  • The traps should be set in locations the animal frequents or where it is causing damage.
  • Fish, canned cat or dog food are good opossum baits. To readily entice the opossum into the trap, use a small bait trail leading to the trap.
  • All traps should be checked in the morning and evening, so that captured animals may be dealt with humanely.
  • Release the animal several miles. Check with your game and wildlife department before trapping and releasing them.

Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin.

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