Opossums should not be underestimated — behind that pink nose and furry face, they have up to 50 needle-like teeth. These nocturnal marsupials are common east of the Rockies and along the West coast. They like forested areas with streams or swamps nearby, although like raccoons, they are increasingly found in urban areas. Although their favored food is road kill (which they often become because of their nighttime activity), opossums will also partake of fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes and corn. And like raccoons, they rummage through trash cans. If you see a mauled tomato or corn plant with fruit missing, an opossum might be your culprit.
Prevention and Control
- To discourage opossums from visiting your yard, stow water and food supplies, such as pet bowls and bird feeders, out of reach at night.
- Secure compost bins.
- Opossums also can be deterred with repellents, scare tactics, and a good fence.
- On fruit trees, place baffles on tree trunks to prevent opossums from climbing them. Prune overhanging limbs that opossums can use to launch themselves into the fruit tree.
- Control grubs in your lawn and flower beds with beneficial nematodes or milky spore. A combination of the two is most effective.
- Opossums can be scared temporarily by loud, intermittent noises or lights. Try using motion sensors that activate jets of water, noisemakers or lights, but you may not get much sleep with the racket outside. It may be worth the short-term sacrifice so you can harvest your corn or melons.
- The best deterrent is a good fence. Opossums are agile and smart, so build your fence well. For more information, read Animal Fencing Techniques.
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