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Opossum Removal & Control

Living & Eating Habits:

Common with most wildlife, there are generally three major necessities in life that are important…food, shelter and safety. Opossums are no different than any other animal and they have the same three necessities to aid in their survival. Opossums are generally lonesome animals and for the most part are docile creatures. All they want is to be left alone while in search for food and to be able to have a safe and comfortable place to raise their young. For the most part, Opossums pretty much go about unnoticed. They prefer to scavenge for food a couple of hours after it gets dark until dawn, and if female, they may also bring their babies along for the journey, riding along on top of their mother’s backs. Once the sun comes up, they go back to their resting places and go to sleep until the next evening. They’re pretty simple.

Subsequently, an Opossum in the wild is rarely a threat and if left alone will usually move on to another area in search for food. In fact, an opossum’s bark is usually bigger than its bite. Because they have such sharp, intimidating looking teeth, and also tend to hiss when they feel threatened, the Opossum can seem quite daunting when encountered. However, they are usually more scared than their opponents are and only use these frightening measures to intimidate and ward off any impeding danger, such as humans or dogs. If Opossums truly feel threatened, they will attempt to play dead or “play possum”. This involves the animal falling to the ground on their sides, legs kicked straight out, while they gaze straight ahead with their eyes wide open or they’ll keep their eyes closed shut. They’ll also let their tongues hang out of their mouth, all in an attempt to make the enemy think they’ve gone to Opossum heaven. Then, when the time is right, they’ll run away as fast as they can (which isn’t very fast at all because their pretty slow runners). However, a female opossum guarding her young may be more of a threat and in an attempt to protect her young, may attack in self defense. For this reason, it is never safe to try and remove or capture an opossum without the help of a professional trapper.

Furthermore, because their natural habitats are quickly becoming overrun with residential neighborhoods and commercial properties, opossums are unfortunately left to find other safe havens to take up residency, such as attics, underneath raised homes, in garages, in children’s playhouses and under decks or patios. There’s no shame in their game and they actually don’t have a problem living amongst humans either. As long as we do our thing and leave them to do theirs, they’re just fine. Especially if we leave out treats for them such as cat or dog food. Why would they ever want or need to leave? And if they can find a way to make it into an attic or someplace inside of a structure, well then they’ve hit the jackpot. An attic will provide a cozy, warm place to raise babies and even provides soft bedding made out of insulation and shredded duct-work. Momma opossums will tuck their young in at bedtime knowing that they’ve found them a safe and quiet place to rest their little heads upon. When Mother opossums go out at night, their young will go with them and they’ll all return by dawn. Finally, If opossums are left to live in the attic unbothered and are not properly removed and the areas of entry left untreated, they and their young will return year after year. Your home will become an Opossum timeshare that will play host to many staycations for years to come. The best part for the Opossums are that the accommodations are free and already in Florida!

Signs That Opossums Are In Your Home and Problems That Can Occur:

  1. Opossums are nocturnal and sleep during the day. If there is one is living in your attic you may not hear it moving at all until nighttime when it decides to move about and leave in search for food. Opossums can get pretty large, about 14 lbs and aren’t the most graceful creatures. So some thumping and /or shuffling may be heard in the evening. Some homeowners even hear scratching, screeching, and sometimes may even hear baby opossums crying or rustling around during playtime. Mating season for Opossums is January – July. Usually female opossums have two to seven babies at a time, 3 times a year. These babies stay in their mom’s pouch for two months and then are free to come out and play. So there is a good chance that there could be baby opossums living in your attic for the better part of a year
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  3. Another malodorous sign that opossums are in your home is the stench they leave behind. Not only will they eat and sleep in the home but will also defecate around their living area. If they’re in the attic, which opossums usually are, they will leave behind dog sized feces in addition to urine throughout the area, in the insulation, and sometimes inside of the walls. Notice any stains on the ceiling lately? Those could be urine stains. The odors from them using your attic as a bathroom will most definitely begin to permeate inside of your living space after a certain amount of time. Breathing in these odors is never safe. Opossum feces can be a carrier for diseases such as round worm, which can be transferred to humans through inhalation.
  4. If you think you smell something dead, you just might be correct. Sometimes opossums will hide inside of walls or chimneys only to find out that they can’t get out and unfortunately for them and you, this can result in their death. Also, in some circumstances, mother opossums may hide their young inside of a wall void for safety purposes and afterwards are unable to retrieve them. If either of these incidents happens, a professional trapper will be able to take care of the deceased animals and afterwards, repair any areas that were opened for retrieval purposes, such as holes in walls.
  5. Do you have an explainable flea and/or tick infestation? Remember, opossums are wild animals that carry insects in their fur. Once they move inside your house, so do the fleas and ticks. If you have pets, more than likely, fleas and ticks will find their way from the attic, wall voids, or garage and inside of your living space and ultimately onto your pets. If you notice any fleas or ticks in your home, it’s extremely important to have a professional come out and treat the property immediately. A professional will be able to not only treat the inside of the home but will also treat the outside perimeter of your home, your lawn and your attic. Fleas and ticks are carriers of very dangerous diseases, such as rabies and Lyme disease that can be fatal to both house pets and humans alike.
  6. Notice any leaks lately? Oftentimes, homeowners will notice leads starting in the ceiling and then spreading down the wall yet there’s no hole in the roof outside. This is a sign that an animal is living in your attic. Opossums often remove and / or chew insulation surrounding pipes to make their bedding. By doing this they expose and sometimes damage piping in the roof causing leaks and costing homeowners hundreds in repairs.

Diseases

As mentioned above, opossums can carry fleas and ticks which leave humans and their pets vulnerable for acquiring any disease that can be spread through these aforementioned insects. These diseases include rabies, Lyme and murine typhus which can all be deadly if severe enough. Opossums feces also can carry roundworms which if inhaled by a human can live in the intestines for up to two years, causing diarrhea, stomach problems, intestinal blockages, abdominal pain and even breathing problems. These diseases and their characteristics should all be taken very seriously. For these reasons, it is never safe to go into an attic that a wild animal is living in or has lived in. Always call a professional to remove said animals and will follow the proper decontamination procedures once the animals have been excluded. Immediate and proper sanitary measures must take place when removing insulation and other prior nesting materials that were used by the animals. All other items that are placed in the attic for storage must also be cleansed properly afterwards. Failing to do so can result in roundworm inhalation as well.

How Heron Pest and Wildlife Solutions Will Help:

Heron Pest and Wildlife Solutions provides full service animal removal and exclusion programs. Our technicians are professionally trained to carefully, safely and humanely remove any wildlife that is found on your property. We will walk the property to look for any signs of entry into the home and will mark any “hot spot” areas for exclusion purposes. If we find any wildlife inside the property, our technicians will follow all the proper measures to make sure that each animal and their young are properly trapped and able to be safely transported to a secure space for a proper release back into the wild. Our technicians will then proceed with the exclusion part of our process by repairing any holes, broken siding, and openings in walls or compromised areas that animals were able to enter into.

If chosen, we will then do a follow up pest control treatment to have the area where the animal was living, properly treated for fleas and ticks. We will also take precautionary measures and treat the inside of your home as well as the outside perimeter of the home for fleas and ticks as well.

We also offer a wildlife plan that includes a quarterly visit from our technician to check the property for any new potential entry points into the home. We will also revisit the attic space as well as any crawl spaces where clever animals may fit. If needed, we will provide you with recommendations for ways to keep your home wildlife free in the future.

After The Opossum Is Removed From Your Home

After the Opossums are removed from your home we recommend the following steps to deter wildlife from moving back into your home:

  1. NEVER keep pet food on outside patios, doorways, window ledges, or decks over night. This is the number one way to invite wild animals onto your property. Their sense of smell is extremely keen and then can smell cat and dog food from miles away. Not only will they be happy to dine on your patio that night, but they will remember and come back night after night in search for more. Eventually they’ll want to stay and will search for places to nest nearby, resulting in wildlife back in your home.
  2. Keep all cat or dog doors locked once your animals are back inside. Always lock them at night. Animals such as opossums, raccoons, fox, feral cats, armadillos and skunks can fit just perfectly through these doors and will surely make their way to your pet’s food bowls (and raccoons can open doors and get into pantries and cabinets) in no time. Not only does leaving pet doors unlocked invite unwanted critters into your home but also invites the insects that they carry on them in as well. Can we say flea infestation anyone?
  3. Make sure that you get a garbage can with a snug fitting lid or a lid that locks. Opossums usually aren’t the culprit for knocking over trash cans and ripping open bags, those would be raccoons, bears and / or dogs, but they will definitely come behind those animals and eat whatever’s left over. It’s also not a wise idea to leave a trash bag that’s not in a can, out on the lawn or side of the house over night. That would just be asking for a mess to clean up in the morning.
  4. If you see any other wildlife activity in your home, call a professional immediately. Remember, wild animals can carry an array of dangerous diseases that can be harmful to humans. Also, if threatened, a wild animal may attach in response. Always give the animal a sufficient amount of space and then call a professional.

INTERESTING FACTS:

  • Opossums are North America’s ONLY marsupial? They join the family of other marsupials including Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas, Wombats, Tasmanian Devils and Gliders. The female opossum has a pouch that she carries her young in for up to 3 months. Following their 3 month stay in their Mom’s cozy pouch, baby opossums are carried on her back for another 2 months whenever transportation is needed. Hold on little babies!
  • Opossums don’t have long life spans. Actually they generally only live from 2 – 4 years due to environmental factors such as predator attacks, or by being hit by vehicles.
  • Opossums are usually not social. They actually prefer to be left alone. When opossums are confronted, they may become frightened or stunned and will involuntarily fall on their sides, with their legs in the air and “play possum”.
  • If an opossum feels threatened or scared, they will release a green, very unpleasant smelling anal fluid in hopes to deter the enemy.
  • If an opossum feels threatened or scared, they will release a green, very unpleasant smelling anal fluid in hopes to deter the enemy.
  • Opossums can also make themselves drool heavily and foam at the mouth. It’s another attempt to scare any predators away. By doing so, the predator will think the opossum is sick and leave it alone. The same goes for humans, usually we think it’s rabies but its actually just their defense mechanism.