Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Didelphis virginiana


What do they look like?
oppossum picture
Adult opossums are about the size of a large cat. They have long, light-gray hair with a scaly tail almost half the length of the full body.

How Did I Get Opossums?

Opossums live in varied habitats, but generally live near areas close to streams and wetlands. However, if locations near humans provide for easy access to food and shelter, they will take up residence close to both urban and suburban homes. Therefore, leaving trash bags or pet food in the open can lure the pests into yards and garages. Forgetting to seal a garbage can might be enough to attract opossums to a nighttime meal.

Thick brush, dense foliage, and uncut grass provide cover for opossums. They also benefit from nearby streams or sources of standing water.

How Serious Are Opossums?

An opossum typically does little damage to property. These nuisance pests may dig in gardens and lawns at night while searching for insects or sift through garbage. They also leave smelly and unsightly feces behind, may cause several diseases and are a potential source of fleas.

The pests reproduce quickly, as they may produce two litters of 10 or more babies each year. As skilled explorers and tree climbers, opossums often reside in attics or garages. These animals can even climb over and squeeze under fencing. However, only mothers with young tend to stay in one place for more than a few days.

How Can You Get Rid of Them?

Before taking control measures, check local regulations, as opossums might be protected. If you aren’t sure of the infesting pest or that you can humanely remove it, we always recommend contacting your local Orkin branch for an inspection and removal plan.

Signs of an Opossum Problem

Homeowners most often notice opossums when they encounter them, often around a garbage cans or in attics. They are known to damage lawns too, when digging for grubs.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Where do they live?
Typically, the opossum prefers to establish a home within existing structures, like hollow logs, garages, under buildings, inside burrows and even squirrels’ nests in trees. It prefers establishing residence close to a food source for an easy commute.

What do they eat?
The opossum is an omnivore, so it’s not picky. Just about anything the marsupial can find to consume will make for a meal—fruits, grass, insects, mammals, birds, fish and carrion.

The opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is the only marsupial in North America and is a relative of the kangaroo. The most notable similarity of these family members is the female’s abdominal pouch, designed for carrying and nurturing young. Unlike its relative, though, the opossum is a sluggish animal with the ability to produce a repulsive smell.

Reproduction & Life Cycle

Opossums are not community creatures. Typically, they reproduce one time per year but can have two litters, resulting in about seven offspring each. The count can go as high as 13 in a litter, though. Gestation lasts only 13 days, and newborns are only the size of small bumble bees and partially developed. The young will nurse in the mother’s pouch for the next three months as they further develop and mature.