Late at night, you hear a large rattling by the trash cans outside of your house. Quickly, you flip on your backyard light, and not to your surprise, a possum has yet again scaled your fence and gotten into your trash.
Barbed wire will stop possums & opossums, but it can also cause harm to the animals. A better solution is to solve why possums are entering your property and remove the source of the problem.
So while barbed wire will work, it’s often banned in many urban areas due to the risk it poses to the environment. Plus, it’s just plain ol’ unsightly. Don’t worry though, there are some great alternatives to keeping possums off your property, rather than putting up a barbed-wire fence.
Why Will Barbed Wire Work to Stop Possums & Opossums?
Just to be clear, barbed wire will work to fend off possums and other crawling critters that want to make it over your fence. Still, you shouldn’t use barbed wire to do this.
It will work to deter possums and opossums because once they reach the top of the fence, the sharp razors on the barbed wire will do what they’re designed to do.
Naturally, once the animal learns of the sharpness of the barbed wire, they’ll stay clear of the fencing.
Regardless if it’ll work, it isn’t a good idea to put barbed wire around your urban or suburban property (more on this in the next section.)
There are a few use cases for when barbed wire can be practical, such as on a construction site with the proper permits or if you live on a farm and need to protect your livestock or site. You may be trying to deter or contain other creatures than possums in those situations, though.
Instead, there a few good reasons against the use of using barbed wire for possums.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Barbed Wire to Stop Possums and Opossums
Did you know that using barbed wire in residential areas is actually outlawed by many cities in the United States?
Most cities either require a permit for use or just plain ol’ ban the product. The laws vary from just about every city in the country, but a quick web search will inform you of your local regulations.
Barbed wire has many different uses—fencing livestock, sensitive areas, etc. For the typical homeowner living in a suburb or urban home, barbed wire isn’t for you.
You could greatly injure the animal (which is the intent if you’re installing barbed wire), but additionally, the wire itself isn’t a good idea to have near your home JUST to deter possums.
Instead, you need to find the source of the problem and answer this question:
Just why are possums coming onto my property?
If we can solve this answer, you won’t need to put razor-sharp barbed wire around your home.
No Barbed Wire: keeping Possums & Opossums Out Naturally
Keeping possums and opossums out naturally is going to be much easier than you think.
If you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have a need for barbed wire once some time has passed.
Clean up the garbage
This is a big one, and one of the most important. Both opossums and possums are scavengers and very opportunistic.
If you have garbage, cans, or compost lying around your yard, you’re practically inviting opossums and possums in for a snack.
Furthermore, if you have these items sealed but easily UNSEALED, then these critters will no doubt be able to find their way inside.
Besides cleaning up any trash lying on the ground, make extra sure that the lids to your garbage, recycling, and compost bin are well sealed.
Your best bet is to purchase a trash can lock, such as this one from Doggy Dare. This lock will make it extremely difficult for any animal to get into your garbage unless they chew through the container.
Remove any debris on your property.
Next up is removing debris. This one is an absolute must.
You really, really need to eliminate any and all hiding spots that a possum or opossum could take shelter under.
For instance, if you have a standing woodpile, a few trees lying on their side in your yard, a lot of brush cover, or tall grass, these are things that should most definitely be minimized as much as possible.
In most cases, both possums and opossums are prey and NOT predators. By making your property as open as possible, you’ll highly discourage these animals from wanting to be in your yard since they’ll be leaving themselves exposed without cover.
Protect your garden
To deter the Opossum, The University of California Integrated Pest Management Program indicates that one suitable method is to use chicken wire to barricade your garden.
The chicken wire itself doesn’t have much support to it at all, so if you use it as a standalone fence without any support, the fence will bend under the animal’s weight, making it virtually impossible for them to get a grip and climb over it.
UCIPM recommends that the fence be at least 4ft high, with 1-1.5ft of the fence pointed outwards away from the garden.
This Galvanized Poultry Netting from Yard Gard measures in at exactly 48 inches (4ft) if you’re interested in going with this method.
Motion sensor water sprinkler
This is one of my favorite recommendations for a lot of pest repelling tactics. A motion sensor water sprinkler will blast a creature with a hard spray of water, day or night, without harming them.
For possums and opossums, it’s a fantastic alternative, especially if you’re trying to keep them out of place like a garden, as the water sprinkler can even water your plants at the same time!
The Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler is one of the top choices on the market in this regard.
Nearly when a possum or opossum walks within range of the water sprinkler, The Orbit Yard Enforcer should hit them with a heavy stream of water, giving the animal quite the scare and harmlessly soaking them.
It should be enough of a deterrent to keep the animal out of the area.
Motion sensor lights
Motion sensor lights can be both good and bad for repelling pests. When used on their own, motion sensor lights will initially work to scare off pests and animals.
Over time the animals will learn that the light really doesn’t cause them any harm. When using the lights on their own, there are just better solutions available.
However, when used in conjunction with something like a motion-activated water sprinkler, it increases both repellents’ effectiveness.
A good pair of solar lights is an excellent place to start your search, and these ones from AmeriTop come highly regarded.
Block off the area
Simply put, you can go ahead and install a plain ol’, regular fence! You have a few options.
If you want to install an actual backyard or garden fence, you can get a variety of traditional fences that you would find at Home Depot or Lowes. Opossums and possums will still be able to climb over it, but it’ll make them less likely to wander into your yard.
For specifically repelling these creatures from a protected area, go with the chicken wire method mentioned above.
If possums or opossums are making it under your deck, for instance, you can use the same galvanized chicken wire mentioned above to block off the gap between the ground and your deck.
This way, the animals will not be able to get in and take shelter underneath your home.
That’s a Wrap!
I hope this guide has given you a little bit of info on keeping possums and opossums away from your home.
Remember – unless you have a specific situation that requires it, don’t use barbed wire to keep these animals away from your property.
They are other, less harmful solutions available that, quite frankly, are easier to install and set up as well!
Cowan, P., Booth, L., & Crowell, M. (2016). Repellents with potential to protect kea and other native birds from aerial poisoning for possum and rat control. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 40(1), 29-41.
Byrom, A. E., Innes, J., & Binny, R. N. (2016). A review of biodiversity outcomes from possum-focused pest control in New Zealand. Wildlife Research, 43(3), 228-253.
Gardner, A. L. (1982). Virginia opossum. Wild mammals of North America: biology, management, and economics. Eds. J. Chapman and G. Feldhamer. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 3-36.
Hill, N. J., Carbery, K. A., & Deane, E. M. (2007). Human–possum conflict in urban Sydney, Australia: public perceptions and implications for species management. Human dimensions of wildlife, 12(2), 101-113.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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