Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oh, opossum, oh, opossums

With the weather warming up here and there as winter continues to crawl by animals are on the move, looking for one more meal to get through until tomorrow. In particular we can’t believe the number of calls regarding Virginia Opossums that we have received in the past several weeks.

Opossum's, our only North American Marsupial, are nomadic by nature and do not nest, even in the summer when they have young. They do however, take advantage of opportunities like open garage doors, open decking or even unused dog kennels, when morning comes and they need someplace safe to spend the day. This of course doesn’t take into account that in the winter, opossums which are scavengers, are not nearly as adept at finding food as the raccoons, skunks and feral cats that they are competing with. This means that it is very common to see these creatures out during the day, especially in the winter months when they simply can't find enough food during the nighttime hours alone.

An opossum who shows up in your yard will likely move on once he senses the danger (you, your children and your dog or cat who probably startled him to begin with) is gone. He or she is only there because there is a food source nearby. If the opossum’s presence is unwelcome and continues take the following steps.
  • Take up any and all food sources - opossums are scavengers and they actually provide a valuable (if grotesque) service. Any bird feeders, fruit trees, garbage, un-cleaned grills, outdoor pet food or pretty much anything else that is edible should be cleaned up, brought inside or placed into an airtight container to prevent from attracting them.
  • Try putting a radio near the area/s you are seeing him or her most often. It needn’t be loud and it should be on a talk radio station to ensure that they are tricked into thinking people are nearby.
  • Be sure to take note of any areas of damage that may be allowing him to get under your deck or shed, into your garage or other hiding areas. If these locations can be sealed off or repaired before baby season starts in the spring you will prevent a lot of headaches for yourself.

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