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You wouldn't want opossums in your home or on your land any more than you would want a family of nests, and infestations of wild animals and rodents can come in many different forms. The sad fact is, many lone opossums, or wild animals in general, are never lone creatures for very long. Some rodents especially spray pheromones around in urine, and they release urine all the places they run. This attracts others, and then they start mating, and it's not long before you have a much bigger problem on your hands than you initially thought. In some cases, it can be horrifying.
The first thing you’ll need to be aware of when learning how to identify opossum tracks, is that they are nocturnal. It is not uncommon to see opossums out during the day, but they are mostly out at night. They prefer the night, and they also prefer a quiet life. They will do everything in their power to avoid human contact or detection, and when they hear or smell humans they generally run away.
It is unlikely that you will spot an opossum in the flesh, although it can happen, particularly when they have moved into human residences. They climb with ease, sharp claws helping them to grab on to textured surfaces, such as wood, and this is what makes breaking into your home quite easy. They can climb up tree trunks and along branches, across fences and walls, and even up house siding and panelling, making it easier than ever for them to get onto the roof and eventually into your attic.
Opossums, much like other wild animals, can cause extensive amounts of damage, particularly on the way in and out of your home. Open walls, spaces and cavities are a prime target for opossums, as well as other wild critters, and they also like to hit spaces underneath porches, decks, and stairs, as well as outbuildings, sheds, garages, and even in rock and wood piles in the back yard.
Opossums can rip shingles and tiles away from the roof, as well as tearing into window sand door screens. If there is a patch of damage on the exterior of your home, they will use whatever means necessary to get in, and other animals will offer assistance. Rats and mice can chew through most materials, and although they don’t deliberately work together, these wild creatures tend to attract each other, sadly.
Ignoring the damage caused by wild animals, including opossums, is a dangerous game. Before you know it, you could have a repair bill that runs into thousands of dollars, and that’s before we talk about the stress and time it will take to solve the problem and get things back to normal again.
Disappearing cat and dog food is a common sign that a wild animal has invaded your home, although this is something that you might not even notice. It will only be when your pet gets ill, eating from contaminated food and water sources, or when they start to lose weight because they have lost out on their food to a passing scavenger, that you look into things a little closer.
Here’s a wild animal control tip we can give you for free - do not leave food lying around, not even in the form of pet food. Keep an eye on your human food too. There are a number of wild animals just waiting to snap up your leftovers, and they’ll have a good rummage through the trash can too, if you leave it unattended and uncovered.
Just like other wild critters, opossums actually make quite a lot of noise. You just don't hear them that often, because they tend to be more awake during the night than they are during the day. Mostly nocturnal, they will come out during the daylight hours, but it would need to be something quite tasty to lure them from their slumbers.
If you have opossums in the attic, it won't be long before you hear them. They make a lot scuffling noises as they gather materials to build a nest, and they are renowned for being quite noisy characters in general.
As well as scuffling noises, you are also likely to hear scratching and ripping sounds, and perhaps even vocal calls on occasion. In general, all noises in the attic mean you have a wild animal invasion, and the louder the noises generally means the larger the animal. Opossums will sound like rats or mice, but just on a larger, louder scale.
One guaranteed way to know whether or not you have an opossum problem is by using your nose. These scavengers are well known for smelling really bad, and they go to the loo much more regularly some most other animals, so the droppings and urine they leave behind will be plentiful. As with any waste matter, as it sits there and rots, it will start to kick up quite the smell. Many people smell an opossum problem before they see it.
Paw prints left by an animal will more often than not give the game away. You will know if you have an opossum problem, because the paw prints left behind by the animal are highly distinguishable. The tracks left by the opossums back feet look as if they could have been created by a child’s foot, the front paws being slightly smaller, with a diameter of around two inches.
Another thing that makes the opossum tracks pretty distinctive, is that they are often very close together. In many cases they overlap, and this is because they tend to shuffle along rather than run.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does opossum removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of opossums - my main opossum removal info guide.
Example opossum trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Opossum job blog - learn from great examples of opossum jobs I've done.