Opossums are scavengers and help keep populations of cockroaches, mice, snails, slugs, insects and rodents in check. But they’re also carriers of parasites that can transmit diseases including leptospirosis, tularemia and tuberculosis to pets and people. And they can cause substantial damage to lawns and gardens with their omnivorous diet.

The best way to get rid of opossum outside is by making your yard less welcoming. Store birdfeed in metal bins with lids and block access to places where they might hide, such as under decks and sheds. Trimming tree branches, sealing vents and chimneys, repairing entryways, and blocking off crawl spaces can also limit their access to homes, sheds and garages. Chemical repellents can also deter opossums and other pests.

Outdoor Opossum Dilemma: Effective Ways to Get Rid of Them Safely

Avoid leaving food outside, especially pet food, trash, or garden produce. Opossums will eat almost anything, including rotting fruit and garbage. They often enter homes and sheds in search of shelter from the elements or predators. Store firewood in the garage, seal off openings under porches and storage sheds and remove brush and log piles where opossums might hide.

When threatened, opossums will “play dead,” appearing (and smelling) like they’re dead, with their mouths open and anal glands secreting an odor. This defense mechanism can last for a few minutes to a few hours. If you notice this behavior, call a pest control expert for assistance. Getting rid of opossums requires patience and preventive measures, but the results are well worth the effort.