There are a variety of critters that can offer their own unique brand of havoc to a yard. Each of them can be both cute and destructive in their own right, facilitating the need for homeowners to do something to get rid of them.
One such critter is a possum. Possums have some cute traits, but they can definitely be unfriendly in the presence of people. Not only that, they can make their way into your yard and feast on your trash and carry parasites and diseases with them, though the chance of contraction is relatively low.
But there’s one thing you may not have been aware of concerning possums: they can climb.
Can Possums Climb Fences?
Yes, possums can climb fences. Despite the fact that they have short, little legs, they have no problem climbing a fence. That’s because they have long claws and even thumbs that are on their hind feet. This makes it much easier for them to traverse brick walls, wooden fences, and trees.
Their feet are also quite strong, so they can grab onto the surface of different materials. It is those strong feet that make them effective climbers on just about any surface.
If that weren’t enough, they also have a prehensile tail to grab things as well. They use it particularly when climbing trees to help grab branches and to stabilize themselves as they climb. The tail is also used for carrying things such as nesting materials so that they can use their hands for climbing. Heck, you may even see them hanging from tree branches using their tails.
Why Are There Possums in My Yard?
Keep in mind that possums are scavengers. They are constantly looking for materials to build a nest or food for themselves or their litter. Not only that, but they are also omnivores, so they will eat just about anything they can find.
What does that mean for your yard? Well, if you keep your trash cans outside, it could mean an unexpected visit from one of these critters. They are attracted to trash cans that are either overflowing with garbage or have a particularly strong trash smell. They will also make their way into compost heaps and any other kind of containers you store outdoors.
Possums also tend to set up their habitats near moist areas, particularly those with sewers, drainage ditches, or ponds. They are nocturnal animals, meaning there is a very small chance that you will see them during the day. They tend to sleep when it’s light out, scavenging for food and being most active well after dark.
How to Know You Have Possums
Possums are about the size of a common housecat. Because they are relatively small and they operate mostly at night, there’s a good chance that you will hear one before you ever see one. You will probably hear them scratching as they look for food.
Possums are also known for making screeching and hissing noises, particularly if they feel threatened at any point. Possums can also cause minor property damage and leave your trash can a mess if they have the opportunity to pick through it.
You may notice a few different traits of a possum visit. There could be scratch marks on your garbage or on the outside of your house. You might notice foul smells or disappearing pet food if you store it outdoors. There may also be a trail of nesting materials, particularly inside holes or cracks. Check your basement and attic, too. They can get into tight spaces and will then establish themselves in those tight spaces.
How to Keep Them Out of Your Yard
If you think that possums may be a real problem in your yard, the first step is to cut off any potential food supplies they may have access to. Possums generally won’t settle in your yard unless there is a serious source of food to be had.
Don’t store garbage cans outdoors. Keep them in a garage or shed to ensure that the possums won’t be able to gain access. The same goes for pet food. Even if you store it in a garage, make sure that the food is in a sealable plastic container. This will not only prevent possums from getting into your pet food, but other pests that snack on dog or cat food as well.
As pretty as they may be, consider taking down bird feeders. Even though they are host to some beautiful birds, bird feeders are known for attracting unwanted guests. Possums like to make their way into the birdhouses to snack on the bird food within. It is also a good idea to keep bird houses locked up to prevent the spread of diseases that can permeate between possums and dirty areas.
If you’re a composter, it is important to never add animal products to the compost. The possums will find it an attractive food source and continue to dig and pick at it for as long as they have access to it. At the very worst, ensure that your compost pile is in a locked container that will keep them out.
Garden produce can also make for an attractive source of food. They won’t pick the fruits and vegetables off the vine, but any fallen or overripe produce can be quite attractive to them. Keep your garden clean and possums should not be much of an issue.
Take Away Hiding Spots
Despite the fact that they are omnivores, possums are still relatively low on the food chain. After all, they are small in stature and have stubby legs. Against a larger predator, there isn’t much they can do to defend themselves. That is why they need to find easily accessible hiding spots.
Like other pests that can hide in tough to reach areas, it is important to remove hiding spots that the possums may be attracted to. By taking away those hiding spots, they won’t feel comfortable and safe hiding on your property and will likely move elsewhere.
Start by thinning out any thick hedges, shrubbery, and taller strands of vegetation. Don’t leave piles of wood or leaves just hanging around. Any equipment that is large enough to shelter a possum should be put away (garden pots and wheelbarrows in particular).
Possums love a messy landscape because it presents many possibilities for shelter. When you reduce their options, they will look elsewhere for safety and shelter.
Use Extra Yard Lighting
Possums are nocturnal. That means they only come out when it is dark outside, and they use the shadows to hide and keep themselves protected. When it’s dark in your yard, that makes for the perfect cover that the possums are looking for.
Make use of exterior flood lights. Attach them to not only your home, but sheds and garages as well. If you’re certain you have a possum problem, focus the lights on the problem areas of your yard. Even if you don’t have a known possum problem, it’s a good idea to keep your lights focused on compost piles and trash cans, dispelling these pests from finding a source of food.
If you don’t want constant lighting in your yard (not to mention the elevated electric bills), try using motion-activated lights. This way, they will only come on when something (possums included) scurries through the yard. The suddenness of the lights should be enough to dispel a wide array of pests, possums included.
Stink Them Out
Possums have quite sensitive senses of smell. There are some particular smells that will not only force them to leave but keep them away for good. There are some nearly universal pest removers, but it is a better idea to stick to the smells that specifically keep out possums.
Mothballs are great at keeping possums away, for instance. Put them in a sealed container and poke a few holes in the top of the lid. Put the containers wherever you think the possums are frequenting such as a garage or shed. The smell of the mothballs should be enough to drive them away from that area, if not the entire yard.
Dog urine is particularly easy if you have a pet. The smell of the urine can inform them that a predator is in the area, scaring them off. Try mixing 2,000 parts water to 1-part dog urine in a spray bottle. Spray the impacted areas of your yard and it shouldn’t be long before the possum problem disappears.
Similar to dog urine is blood meal. Sprinkle just a little bit of the blood meal around your garage, shed, garden, or other problem areas. The scent will make them think that there is a predator in the area that has been feeding.
Because safety and security are of the utmost importance to the possums, they won’t risk staying around if they think that there is a predator in the area. These should make for effective solutions for getting rid of possums.