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Home » Blog » Opossum Attack: Understanding and Managing Encounters with Opossums

Opossum Attack: Understanding and Managing Encounters with Opossums

Opossum Attack Understanding and Managing Encounters with Opossums

Opossums are fascinating creatures, often misunderstood due to their nocturnal habits and unique appearance. While they play a crucial role in the ecosystem by controlling pests and cleaning up carrion, encounters with humans can sometimes lead to conflicts. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the nature of opossum attacks, the reasons behind their behavior, and effective ways to manage and prevent such encounters.

By learning more about these nocturnal animals, we can foster coexistence and appreciate the vital role they play in maintaining ecological balance.

Understanding Opossum Behavior

opossum attack human

Opossums, also known as possums in North America, are marsupials that are primarily nocturnal. They are generally non-aggressive and prefer to avoid confrontation. However, when threatened, they can exhibit defensive behaviors that may be perceived as attacks.

Defensive Mechanisms of Opossums

  1. Playing Dead: One of the most well-known behaviors of opossums is "playing dead" or "playing possum."An opossum may fall over, stick out its tongue, and release a pungent fluid from its anal glands when it encounters a predator.. This act is a defense mechanism to deter predators.
  2. Hissing and Growling: Opossums may hiss, growl, and bare their teeth when they feel threatened. This behavior is meant to scare away potential threats rather than initiate an attack.
  3. Scratching and Biting: In rare cases, if an opossum feels cornered or is handled improperly, it may resort to scratching or biting as a last line of defense.

Causes of Opossum Attacks

Opossums are not naturally aggressive towards humans. So it’s quite uncommon that an opossum attack human. Most attacks occur due to specific circumstances that provoke the animal. Understanding these triggers can help in preventing negative encounters.

Common Triggers for Opossum Attacks

  1. Threat Perception: Opossums may feel threatened if they are cornered or unable to escape. This can happen if they are trapped in a garage, attic, or any confined space.
  2. Protecting Offspring: Mother opossums are particularly protective of their young. If a mother opossum perceives a threat to her babies, she may exhibit aggressive behaviors.
  3. Food Sources: Opossums are scavengers and may become defensive if they are protecting a food source. This can happen near trash cans, pet food, or other accessible food supplies.

Preventing Opossum Encounters

opossum attacks

Preventing encounters with opossums involves making your property less attractive to these nocturnal visitors. Here are some effective strategies to keep opossums at bay.

Effective Strategies for Opossum Prevention

  1. Secure Garbage and Food Sources: Ensure that all garbage cans have tight-fitting lids and are not easily accessible. Do not leave pet food or other food sources outside overnight.
  2. Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home for potential entry points, such as gaps in the roof, walls, or foundation. Seal these openings to prevent opossums from entering your attic, basement, or garage.
  3. Remove Attractive Habitats: Keep your yard clean and free of debris, such as piles of leaves, brush, or wood. These can provide shelter for opossums.
  4. Install Motion-Activated Lights: Opossums are nocturnal and prefer dark environments. Installing motion-activated lights can deter them from approaching your property.

What to Do If You Encounter an Opossum

Encountering an opossum can be startling, but it is important to remain calm and take appropriate actions to ensure both your safety and the safety of the animal.

Steps to Handle Opossum Encounters

  1. Stay Calm: Opossums are more afraid of you than you are of them. Remaining calm will prevent the situation from escalating.
  2. Do Not Approach: Avoid approaching or trying to handle the opossum. Give it space to escape on its own.
  3. Create an Exit Path: If the opossum is indoors or in a confined area, open doors or windows to provide an easy escape route.
  4. Contact Wildlife Professionals: If the opossum does not leave on its own or if you feel threatened, contact a local wildlife removal service for assistance.

Humanely Handling Opossum Removal

When it comes to removing opossums from your property, it is crucial to use humane methods. Inhumane treatment or illegal removal practices can result in harm to the animal and potential legal consequences.

Humane Opossum Removal Methods

  1. Live Traps: Use live traps to capture opossums without causing them harm. Once trapped, relocate the opossum to a suitable habitat away from residential areas.
  2. Exclusion Devices: Install exclusion devices that allow opossums to exit your home but prevent them from re-entering. These are particularly useful for opossums that have taken up residence in attics or basements.
  3. Professional Services: Contact a professional wildlife removal service that specializes in humane practices. These experts can safely and effectively handle opossum removal.

For professional and humane opossum trapping, we highly recommend contacting Critter Stop. Critter Stop has a fantastic reputation and excellent customer reviews for providing high-quality work and great customer service.

Addressing Myths and Misconceptions About Opossums

opossum hunting

Opossums often suffer from a bad reputation due to myths and misconceptions. It's important to set the record straight and appreciate these creatures for the beneficial role they play in the environment.

Common Myths About Opossums

  1. Opossums Are Aggressive: Contrary to popular belief, opossums are generally docile and prefer to avoid confrontations. They will only exhibit defensive behaviors when they feel threatened.
  2. Opossums Are Rabid: Opossums have a lower body temperature compared to other mammals, making it rare for them to contract rabies. While it is not impossible, rabies in opossums is uncommon.
  3. Opossums Are Dirty Animals: Opossums are actually quite clean. They groom themselves regularly, much like cats do, and are effective in controlling insect populations, including ticks and cockroaches.
  4. Opossums Damage Property: While opossums may seek shelter in human structures, they do not typically cause significant damage. Any minor damage can be prevented through proper exclusion methods.

Health Benefits of Having Opossums Around


Despite their somewhat frightening appearance, opossums provide several health benefits that are often overlooked.

Tick Control

Opossums are known to consume large quantities of ticks. A single opossum can eat thousands of ticks in a season, helping to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. This being said, opossum hunting ticks are quite beneficial for all mammals. 

Pest Control

Opossums feed on a variety of pests, including snails, slugs, and beetles. By controlling these populations, they help maintain a healthier garden and reduce the need for chemical pesticides.

Carrion Cleanup

As scavengers, opossums play a vital role in cleaning up carrion, which can prevent the spread of diseases and maintain a cleaner environment.

Educating the Community on Opossum Coexistence

Community education is key to fostering a positive relationship with opossums. By understanding their behavior and ecological importance, we can reduce unnecessary fear and promote humane treatment.

Community Outreach Programs

  1. Workshops and Seminars: Organize workshops and seminars to educate the community about opossum behavior, benefits, and humane management practices.
  2. Educational Materials: Distribute brochures, posters, and online resources that provide accurate information about opossums and how to coexist with them.
  3. School Programs: Implement educational programs in schools to teach children about wildlife conservation and the importance of opossums in the ecosystem.

Legal Considerations for Opossum Management

It's important to be aware of the legal aspects of opossum management to ensure compliance with local wildlife protection laws.

Wildlife Protection Laws

Many regions have laws and regulations that protect wildlife, including opossums. These laws may dictate how opossums can be handled, relocated, or removed from properties.

Permits and Licenses

In some areas, a permit or license may be required to trap and relocate opossums. It is important to check with local wildlife authorities to ensure compliance with all regulations.

Penalties for Inhumane Treatment

Inhumane treatment of opossums can result in legal penalties. This includes causing unnecessary harm or using illegal methods to remove or kill opossums. Always opt for humane solutions and consult with professionals if needed.

Case Studies: Successful Opossum Management

Learning from successful opossum management cases can provide valuable insights and strategies for dealing with these creatures humanely.

Case Study 1: Urban Opossum Management

In a suburban neighborhood experiencing frequent opossum visits, residents implemented several preventive measures. By securing garbage bins, removing potential food sources, and installing motion-activated lights, they significantly reduced opossum encounters. Additionally, the community worked with a local wildlife expert to safely relocate a family of opossums to a nearby wildlife reserve.

Case Study 2: Agricultural Opossum Control

A farm dealing with opossum-related issues took a proactive approach by creating a more opossum-friendly environment that discouraged them from entering barns and storage areas. They installed opossum-proof fencing, used live traps for relocation, and educated farm workers on humane handling techniques. As a result, the farm saw a decrease in opossum-related problems and an increase in beneficial pest control.

The Future of Opossum Management

As we continue to learn more about opossums and their role in the ecosystem, it is essential to promote coexistence and humane management practices.

Research and Conservation

Ongoing research is vital to understand opossum behavior and ecology better. Conservation efforts should focus on protecting opossum habitats and ensuring their survival in urban and rural environments.

Public Awareness Campaigns

Increasing public awareness about the benefits of opossums and how to manage encounters humanely can lead to more positive interactions and reduce unnecessary fear. Public awareness campaigns can be conducted through social media, community events, and partnerships with wildlife organizations.

Innovative Solutions

Innovative solutions, such as advanced exclusion devices and improved live traps, can enhance opossum management practices. These tools should prioritize the safety and well-being of both opossums and humans.

Opossum Control for Residential Areas

Given the significant role opossums play in ecosystems, it is crucial to address their presence in residential areas humanely and effectively. This is where Critter Stop comes into play. 

Critter Stop is a professional wildlife removal company with a stellar reputation for high-quality work and excellent customer service. Their humane methods ensure that opossums and other wildlife are removed from your property safely and efficiently.

Choosing Critter Stop:

  • High-Quality Work: Critter Stop is known for their meticulous and effective wildlife control solutions.
  • Great Customer Service: With numerous positive reviews online, Critter Stop excels in customer satisfaction, providing personalized and responsive service.
  • Humane Methods: They prioritize humane wildlife removal, ensuring minimal harm to the animals while effectively addressing your pest control needs.
  • Expertise: Critter Stop's team of professionals is well-trained in handling a wide range of wildlife, including opossums, ensuring your home remains critter-free.

If you are experiencing issues with opossums or other wildlife in your home, contact Critter Stop for comprehensive and humane wildlife control services. 

Their expertise and commitment to quality make them the best choice for residential wildlife control in North Texas.

Contact us at (214) 234-2616 to get a free estimate of our services.

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Lee Gorman
Lee Gorman
13:50 21 Nov 22
I’d give a 10 star review if I could! We had a great experience with Critter Stop. Everyone I dealt was friendly, professional, and reassuring. Phillip was very helpful and knowledgeable about the work he was doing. He walked me around the entire house to make sure I saw and understood the services he provided. He was also really nice and answered all my questions — he is exactly the type of person that should be interacting with customers.I love the fact that they will come back for up to 1 year after installation if any problems occur — this shows me they stand behind their work.The owner was great too, he personally came to my house and walked me through their offering. I recommend critter stop to anyone and everyone!
Susan Casey
Susan Casey
14:53 15 Nov 22
Critter Stop is a fantastic business! Everyone involved is extremely professional and very easy to communicate with. Chisam, the owner, did a great job of explaining the process to get the squirrels out of my attic during the initial free estimate. The exclusion crew who did all of the initial work was fabulous. The crew consisted of Phillip, Nick and Corey who arrived promptly when they said they would. They are happy, positive employees. Everyone is very polite and patient in explaining their work and answering questions. They came back several times to check the traps and finish it off with the fogging. Lester was very good about following up to schedule each trap check with me, and the office staff who took care of the billing was very efficient. Critter Stop is a well run company with honest, trustworthy employees! Thank you to all of you who worked hard to make my attic critter free and for the peace of mind that you guarantee your work. Great to know I can call them if for some reason a squirrel figures out a way to get back in!
Karen Eckholdt
Karen Eckholdt
14:54 22 Sep 22
Critter Stop has made this project easy and extremely professional from start to finish! They are very detailed and competent from start to finish and know so much about their business. They made a problem easy for us and at a reasonable cost. We would be happy to recommend this company and their owners and staff to anyone.
Aaron Echols
Aaron Echols
13:51 03 Aug 22
The guys at Critter Stop responded quickly, were very friendly, and gave us an honest estimate of what we might need. They explained why some items on other quotes were or were not necessary. They communicated well to get us scheduled, and did the work well and quickly. Great service at a fair and competitive price.
Jacob Scribner
Jacob Scribner
19:23 27 Jul 22
Brandon and his other coworker Gavin came to install insulation in my attic. I am very grateful for the hard work and professionalism. My house feels a lot better with the insulation installed. 5 star review. Cory Leach was also very nice and helpful. He came to my house to do another job and was very attentive and professional. Thank you Corey and thank you Critter Stop for helping me.The owner very polite and helpful, I’m glad I found this company to help me.
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