Opossum Away

How to successfully keep opossums away from your home.

So, you have an opossum problem and you would quite like to get rid of it, right? That’s a smart decision, as is getting rid of the disease-ridden animal in the fastest time possible, and safest way possible too. Although rabies isn’t a common concern with rabies, there are a number of other potentially fatal diseases waiting in the wings, and that’s just the poop and urine of the animal; you don’t need to get anywhere close to the animal itself in order to be in direct contact with disease spores.

Repellents seem like a pretty good way to get rid of wild animals in the home, don’t they? You don’t need to get too close to the animal, or any waste/contaminated matter it might have alongside it, and the animal doesn’t need to die, either. It might sound like a winning combination all round, but when you take a closer look at the so-called best opossum repellents, you’ll start to get an idea of why they’re not the “best” approach to take at all …

Urine Repellent

Okay, so, this one might actually work. The way that urine-based repellents are designed to work is not by you — the home or property owner — peeing all over the place, but instead, using the urine or scent/essence of urine from other predatory animals. For the humble opossum, those predatory animals will include foxes, coyotes, wolves, and raccoons, although will extend to a few more beyond that, depending on the area. Essentially, the scent is designed to scare or bully the opossum away.

Usually available in liquid or granule form, you’ll probably pay somewhere in the region of $20-$30 for a 30-ounce tub of granules, and that might be enough to cover a relatively small patch of land fairly evenly. The bigger the area, the more granules you will need to buy, and the quicker your costs will rise. If you have a very large back yard that you need to protect, or need to use a lot of the granules to cover a number of spaces in your home, that $20-$30 will turn into $40-$60, and perhaps even more than that.

The effectiveness will decrease over time, of course, and this means that you’ll need to buy more and reapply, bumping up the price once again, and if it rains, any granules outside (or liquid formats) will need to be reapplied … The costs are mounting fast here.

If you have a relatively decent sized garden that needs three 30-ounce tubs to cover, you’ll be looking at spending $60-$90 each time, and it might need to be reapplied each month, or perhaps even more regularly than that. Even twice in six weeks will take the price to $120-$180 approximately, and you could have hired a professional to do the job for you, sealed all the holes, and gotten rid of the waste for that price … or close to it.

Pepper-Based Repellents

Again, another one that usually comes in the form of granules or fluids, you’re looking at about the same kind of cost for a tub of hot/spicy pepper granules. These are designed to be too strong-smelling for the opossum (as well as other wild animals), taste too spicy for the animals to eat anything covered by it or close to it, and also a bit on the spicy side when touched, too. Essentially, it’s meant to be an all-round unpleasant experience for the animal.

Sadly, pepper very rarely repels anything, apart from a few people who don’t like spicy foods. There is actual video evidence of opossums and other scavengers eating very hot and spicy foods from garbage cans and outside restaurants, so the pepper repellent can’t really work that well.

These creatures will eat virtually anything, so perhaps even spicy items are no longer great for repelling them?

Sprinkler Repellents

You can use your own garden sprinkler system for this, or you can buy a device that has been specifically designed to get rid of pest animals from your yard. You will obviously not want to use a water-spraying device in your home, or too close to your home, so this one only really works if you have a problem with these critters in your backyard. It’s not going to work well at repelling them from the actual building.

These devices, particularly the ones that are designed to deter animals, can be very expensive — $60-$100 and higher. If you need more than one of these, the costs are going to get very high, and you will also need to bear in mind the cost of actually running them. You are using water — how much will that add on to your water bill? You will also use energy/electricity running the device — how much will this cost you in batteries or via mains electricity? A solar-powered device will be the most cost-efficient, long-term, but will be the most expensive one to buy initially.

Just as with the pepper-based repellents, there is actual video evidence of opossums and other wild animals playing in the streams sent out by sprinkler systems, especially as our summers get much, much hotter. If you find yourself up against an opossum that actually appreciates the cool water approach, all that money you spent will have been for nothing. In fact, they might just encourage more animals to the party, giving you an even bigger problem to deal with.

Light Devices

Many garden and home pests, including opossums, are nocturnal, so it would just make sense that lights would work to deter them. Sadly, this is not the case. They don’t actually mind a bit of light, and if it does manage to repel them for the duration of the time the light is on, they’ll just come right back when the light goes off again. Any lights that you do use to get rid of opossums would need to be on all the time, especially if the opossums are living in a dark area in your home.

These light devices can be just as expensive as the water-based repellents, and more so with the more advanced technology. You will also need to have the batteries/mains-operated/solar-powered debate with yourself, working out which one is going to be the most powerful, most successful, and most cost effective solution for you.

Mothballs

Mothballs and anything else chemical-based, such as ammonia and ammonia-soaked rags, are not safe to use as repellents for any wild critter, and it is actually illegal in some states to use them as repellents, too. They are dangerous, sending out toxic gases into the air, and these gases can affect humans, other animals, pets, and even kids as much as they can the opossum you are trying to target.

Although a relatively cheap option, just like the other repellents we discuss here, the fact that these do not work at all will just mean you’re throwing your money down the drain each time you buy them. It might even cost you a lot more than that if you find yourself in a situation where you can be prosecuted for using them in an unsafe way.

Sound Devices

Another expensive option that doesn’t actually work that well, there are a few homeowners who SWEAR by these noise devices. They send out sounds that are too high in frequency for people to hear (although some people, particularly children, can hear them), and that prove super annoying to opossums and other wild pests. Except … many animals aren’t actually that bothered by them.

You would probably have better luck throwing a radio in the same area that opossums are living in, than you will having using an expensive noise machine that only covers a relatively short range. Larger areas will often need more than one device to yield best results, and this also then comes with higher energy usage.

Molasses

We have seen a number of websites suggesting that you mix molasses with water so that it creates a thick liquid, and then coat the areas that opossums are hitting. It seems to be an especially fond method among gardeners trying to protect their plants, but it’s not a good idea. Molasses is a very sweet food and will, in turn, attract other animals that like sweet foods — wasps, ants, beetles and other insects, rats, mice, flies … the list really can go on for some time.

Using food to repel a wild animal is never a good idea, because that food is almost certainly going to attract something else. There is not ONE food item or type that sends all animals packing, which means you shouldn’t use any of them.