The Virginia Opossum is a nomadic animal. They do not hold territories like many other animals do. Because of this fact the only reason an opossum would be staying in an area for an extended time would be due to a reliable food source, most often human related. They are usually wandering through and if left to their own devices will disappear in a few days. People are often concerned about opossums carrying rabies. Scientific studies have shown that, although possible, it is very difficult for an opossum to contract and carry the rabies virus. Their low body temperature is suspected to be the reason for their natural resistance to the disease. With that being said, it is always imperative to protect yourself from an animal bite of any kind.
To discourage opossums from coming around your yard:
- Do not feed the opossum, on purpose or not. They are scavengers and will eat almost anything.
- Keep all dog/cat food inside, especially at night.
- Store pet food in secure containers with tight fitting lids, preferably inside your home or garage.
- Secure garbage cans with tight fitting lids; preferably keep them in a garage or enclosure so they cannot be tipped over.
- Keep compost in a fenced area or a large secure container, not open piles.
- Clean up around bird feeders.
- If seen in your yard, either leave alone or make loud noises to scare them away.
We strongly discourage live trapping for the following reasons:
- It is futile. Studies have found that an area or habitat will hold a limited number (carrying capacity) of any one species of animal. It will hold no more than that because the over-abundant population is reduced by food scarcity and predators. But the fact that is even more significant is that the area or habitat will also hold no fewer than the established number. So, by live trapping and taking some animals from the area other animals of that species will move in.
- Live trapping frequently results in the death of a trapped and relocated animal due to the stress and trauma of the situation, carrying capacity of habitat introduced to, resident animals defending their territory, and food scarcity. Also, another special concern is the spread of disease by unnaturally relocating animals. Add to that death count the fact that the trapped animal may be a lactating female who leaves behind babies to the painful death of starvation and dehydration.
- We have seen an increase in animals that injure themselves frantically trying to escape live traps. This injury is not the intent of the trapper and often that animal then needs medical attention, rehabilitative care and occasionally surgery to repair the injury.