7 Places Where Opossums Really Go And Live During The Day

The Virginia or North American opossum, Didelphis virginiana, in autumn park

When you think of opossums, you might already have some sort of picture of them. Maybe you’ve seen them in your backyard or near your home, but have you ever wondered where exactly they live during the day?

Opossums are nocturnal, so they are usually only seen at night. During the day, opossums spend their time resting in a hollowed-out tree or log, or an abandoned burrow. They will also move through multiple burrows to stay safe from predators. 

Despite what some people believe, opossums aren’t aggressive, rarely carry illnesses, and are great at keeping the insect population down. Keep reading and let’s explore these native North American marsupials and learn more about what they do during the day.

Key Takeaways:

  • Opossums are most active at night when they go out to search for food.
  • During the day, opossums rest in hidden areas such as hollowed-out logs or in abandoned burrows.
  • Opossums are typically docile animals that do little damage and can be good for the yard because they keep the insect population down.

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Here’s 7 Places Where Opossums Go During The Day

Opossum or Possum Mother with Joeys riding on her Back

Opossums are nocturnal, so it’s rare to see one out and about during the day. However, it’s not impossible, and it’s usually not a cause or concern. However, for the most part, opossums rest during the day in various places.

1. Brush Piles

During the day, opossums look for places where they will be protected from predators. Brush piles serve as the perfect hideout until the sun goes down and these nighttime prowlers can come out.

Brush piles can be found in our yards as we stack up yard debris, including twigs, branches, leaves, and weeds. Opossums squeeze beneath these piles and hang out in daylight hours. Brush piles can also be found naturally in wooded areas as trees fall and leaves pile up.

2. Hollow Trees

Like brush piles, hollow trees provide possums with a safe place to rest during the day. Hollow trees are also common homes for insects, which opossums feed on.

Every tree is different, so opossums may end up burrowing in the bottom of a hollow tree or climbing up to a hollowed-out entrance inside the tree. It all depends on the condition of the tree and how adventurous the opossum is willing to be to find a safe place to rest.

3. Drainage Areas

In the wild, opossums are drawn to areas that are near water, such as streams, rivers, or swamps. While opossums are mostly terrestrial and do not enjoy swimming, they prefer to have a source of water within their home range.

Drainage areas often contain small streams or runoffs that drain into a larger reservoir, which attracts opossums to the area. During the day, opossums may hang out in drainage ditches or culverts where they are both hidden and close to a source of water.

4. Rock Crevices

Rock crevices check all the boxes for a nice, cozy resting area for opossums. It’s protected from the elements and from the watchful eyes of predators. Rock crevices are attractive to various bugs and lizards as well, which could become an opossum’s dinner (or breakfast!).

As long as the rock crevice is located near a source of water, opossums will rest there during the day.

5. In And Beneath Buildings

Opossums are expert survivors and have managed to survive and thrive in a world where many species are diminishing. Some of this is due to their incredible adaptability in urban settings. We’ve all heard of trash pandas, but opossums are just as resourceful and adaptable as raccoons in cities and suburban neighborhoods.

Opossums may make their way into buildings if an opportunity arises. The most likely areas you’ll find opossums in a building are:

  • Chimneys
  • Attics
  • Garages
  • Beneath sheds

If you’re worried about opossums sneaking under your shed or garage, I recommend using hardware cloth like GoldPeak 1/2 inch Hardware Cloth to seal any openings beneath these structures. Make sure to bury the fencing at least 6 inches underground to prevent burrowing.

Barbed wire fences will stop opossums from entering these areas as well, but may harm the animals. You can read more about if barbed wire will stop an opossum here.

6. In Abandoned Burrows

Opossums could never be called lazy, especially the mamma opossums who carry around their babies on their backs! However, these beneficial creatures do not usually dig their own burrows and prefer to use those dug by other animals.

During the day, opossums may rest in the abandoned burrows of other animals. They may also use these burrows as a temporary den when raising young, but they will not stay long in the same den.

7. Out Searching For Food

The old adage that seeing an opossum or raccoon during the day means it has rabies has been proven false many times. While opossums are mostly nocturnal, they can and will go out during the day to search for food when resources are scarce.

You’re more likely to spot an opossum out during the day in the winter when food is less available. It may also happen when a mamma opossum is trying to feed her babies and needs extra time to locate enough food.

Do Opossums Always Use The Same Area During The Day?

So, you’ve spotted an opossum sleeping the day away in a brush pile at the edge of your yard. Is it going to stay there? And should you be concerned? The answer to both is most likely ‘no.’

Opossums Move Around A Lot

Opossums were once believed to be nomadic, going from one place to the next without any regard for coming back to a ‘home base.’ However, recent research has found that these North American marsupials typically have an oval-shaped home range that they continue to return to.

An article from The Southwestern Naturalist found that opossums in Kansas have a home range size averaging 280 acres for males and 140 acres for females. This is on the higher end of a typical opossum home range, with numbers usually between 40 and 90 acres.

With such a large plot of land to trundle through each night, opossums rarely stay in the same den area for a prolonged length of time.

Opossums Go Where The Food Is

When it comes to food, opossums aren’t picky. They are omnivores and will consume a wide variety of things to satiate their hunger, from fruits and seeds to pet food and lizards.

Opossums don’t spend a whole lot of time in one place, and instead go where there is food available. This may change depending on the region. For example, opossums living in desert regions may consume more lizards and snakes, while those living in a suburban backyard may consume more insects and pet food.

Opossums Change Dens To Avoid Predators

When you think of an opossum, you probably don’t picture them running fast but rather trundling along slowly and methodically. These marsupials top out at around seven mph, about the same speed as a human can run. Most predators can outrun an opossum, which is why they change dens often.

Since opossums can’t outrun their predators, they have to outsmart them and in some cases, out-smell them. By frequently changing dens, opossums can avoid coming in contact with predators, which are many. Owls, dogs, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and even raccoons will prey on opossums.

What Else Do Opossums Do During The Day?

We know where opossums go during the day, but what exactly do they do? Opossums do more than just sleep in the daytime. Like people, these amazing creatures have routines and to-do lists that sometimes get accomplished during the day.


While tucked away safely in their daytime hiding spot, opossums spend some time cleaning. Despite their raggedy appearance, opossums are super clean. They groom themselves as much as any housecat and may do this during the day.

While grooming, opossums often pull off and consume ticks and other parasites, making them an excellent natural pest control agent!


Raccoons aren’t the only animals to have opposable thumbs! Although, the opossum has their opposable thumbs on their feet. This allows opossums to be incredibly agile while climbing trees, which they may do during the day.

Opossums climb trees to locate dens, avoid predators, and build nests. Their tails act as a fifth hand, helping to carry nesting materials or allowing them to hang from trees.

Raising Young

Believe it or not, when opossums are born, they are the size of a honeybee! They are underdeveloped and completely dependent on their mother. Remember how we said opossums are marsupials? Yep, these little honeybee-sized opossums are born and then crawl into their mother’s pouch where they stay for up to 70 days.

During the day, opossums need to take care of their young. While they’re in the pouch, baby opossums feed on their mother’s milk. However, when they’re old enough, around 85 days, they begin eating solid foods and getting stir-crazy in the den. Mothers spend some time during the day taking care of their young and providing them with food.

Where Do Opossums Live?

An oppossum hides next to a building behind a bush.  Bird seed is stuck to his pink nose.

The only species of opossum found in the United States is the Virginia Opossum, sometimes called the American Opossum. But these adaptive critters have ventured far beyond Virginia!

Opossums Live East of The Rocky Mountains

Opossums are found pretty much anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains, down into Mexico, and up into Canada. They can also be found along the west coast of the United States. Opossums don’t mind elevation, either, having been found at elevations over 9,000 feet!

Opossums Live In A Variety Of Climates

Our little North American marsupials are very adaptive when it comes to climates. They can thrive in deserts just as well as wetlands. Despite being deemed a neotropical animal, opossums are steadily expanding their ranges northward into colder climates.

Some of the climates opossums live in include:

  • Woodlands (preferred habitat)
  • Wetlands
  • Deserts
  • Meadows
  • Urban/suburban settings

You May Have An Opossum Living Near You!

Opossums have one main thing in common with raccoons, pigeons, and coyotes: they’ve adapted to living alongside humans. Like raccoons, opossums have small bodies and a nocturnal habit that helps them thrive in suburban neighborhoods and even in cities.

Their omnivorous diet helps them thrive in areas with different food sources. From a thrown-out pizza crust on the sidewalk to a leaking garbage bag in someone’s backyard, opossums will eat just about anything!

Here are the most common places where opossums are found in the yard:

Under the deckOpossums find shelter and protection from predators under decks, as well as a warm and dry place to rest.
Attic or shedOpossums may seek out attics or sheds for nesting, as they provide a dark and secluded space for raising young.
GardenOpossums are attracted to gardens for food sources such as fruits, vegetables, and insects.
Compost pileOpossums are drawn to compost piles for the abundance of food scraps and organic matter to feed on.
Garbage cansOpossums scavenge in garbage cans for leftover food scraps and other edible items.

What Do You Do If You See An Opossum During The Day?

If you notice one of these trundling creatures in your yard during the day, you shouldn’t be too concerned, especially if there has recently been a drought or in the winter.

Observe From A Distance

From a safe distance, observe the opossum’s behavior. If it appears to be searching for food, moving through the trash, or heading to or from a thicket of woods, there’s probably nothing to worry about. Opossums may come out during the day to search for food or if they were disturbed from their daytime hiding place.

If the opossum does not seem to be acting normal, keep an eye out for unusual behavior like:

  • Walking in circles
  • Physical signs of an injury

Unfortunately, opossums are often the target of violence from people who do not understand these creatures. Walking in circles can indicate a head injury. In this case, it is best to call an animal control officer to report the injured opossum.

Opossums Rarely Carry Sickness

Opossums look pretty scraggly, sure, but they are surprisingly clean animals. It is very unlikely for an opossum to carry rabies because they have a lower body temperature than most mammals. This makes them an unattractive host for rabies and other viruses that normally affect mammals.

Opossums Are Beneficial

The Virginia or North American opossum, Didelphis virginiana, in autumn park

Opossums are pretty beneficial to the environment, despite their underserved reputation as a ‘rat-like pest.’ They’re good to have in the yard and rarely damage lawns or structures.

Here’s why opossums are beneficial:

  • Devourer of ticks: While grooming, opossums eat a lot of the ticks that are trying to feed on them, helping to reduce tick populations and thus lyme disease instances.
  • Pest police: Opossums eat cockroaches, rats, mice, and dead/decaying animals. They’ll also eat the insects that are destroying your garden, snails, and slugs!
  • Disease resistance: We mentioned this previously, but it’s worth noting that opossums rarely carry rabies due to their lower body temperatures.
  • Venom resistance: Opossums can help keep the population of venomous snakes and scorpions down because they are resistant to some species’ venom!

Keeping Opossums Out Of The Yard

Despite our ravings that opossums are beneficial animals, that doesn’t mean we want them up close and personal in our yards. If you’d rather keep these critters at a distance, there are a few things you can do to keep them away.

Eliminate Food Sources

We’ve mentioned a few times that opossums are omnivores and aren’t very picky about their diet. They basically eat whatever is available in their territory. Eliminating food sources is one of the best ways to repel opossums from your yard.

This means:

  • Clean up all pet food
  • Keep birdseed in sealed containers
  • Clean up fallen birdseed
  • Pick fruits and vegetables as soon as they are ripe
  • Clean up any fallen fruits, vegetables, or nuts

Keeping birdseed off the ground is difficult when you have bird feeders. Consider getting a catcher tray like AUXPhome Bird Seed Catcher Tray that attaches to your existing feeder and catches any fallen seeds. As a bonus, the tray acts as a platform feeder for other birds!

Use Scent Deterrents

Opossums have an incredible sense of smell. It’s how they locate food, avoid predators, and find mates. We can use this to our advantage by putting scents they hate in the yard.

Some of the scents that opossums can’t stand include:

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Hot Peppers
  • Camphor

For a complete list of scents, check out our article on the scents that opossums hate.

Remove Daytime Hiding Places

Remember all the places we said that opossums hang out in during the day? If you have any of them in your yard, make haste to eliminate them!

Remove brush piles, keep the grass mowed, and trim any overgrown bushes that might hide opossums during the day when they are resting.

That’s A Wrap!

Opossums are nocturnal creatures who do most of their activity after the sun goes down. They typically move around, hunt, and eat at night. During the day, opossums typically try to find a safe place to rest.

To recap, here are the 7 places opossums go during the day:

  1. Brush piles
  2. Hollow treas
  3. Drainage areas
  4. Rock crevices
  5. In and beneath buildings
  6. In abandoned burrows
  7. Out searching for food

For the most part, opossums are beneficial creatures and can be left alone if you see one in the yard. They don’t usually stay in one place for long. However, if it becomes necessary to repel them, you should eliminate food sources and hiding places and use scent deterrents to keep them away.

If an opossum ever becomes more trouble than it’s worth, don’t hesitate to use our nationwide pest control finder to connect with a local professional in your area.


Carey, A. B., and R. G. McLean. “The ecology of rabies: evidence of co-adaptation.” Journal of Applied Ecology (1983): 777-800.

Cothran, E. G., Aivaliotis, M. J., & Vandeberg, J. L. (1985). The effects of diet on growth and reproduction in gray short‐tailed opossums (Monodelphis domestica). Journal of Experimental Zoology, 236(1), 103-114.

Ginger, Shauna M., et al. “Niche shift by Virginia opossum following reduction of a putative competitor, the raccoon.” Journal of Mammalogy 84.4 (2003): 1279-1291.

Kasparian, M. A. (2002). Food habits of the Virginia opossum during raccoon removal in the cross timbers ecoregion, Oklahoma. In Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science (pp. 73-78).

White, Thomas D. “Gait selection in the brush-tail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), the northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus), and the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana).” Journal of Mammalogy 71.1 (1990): 79-84.

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