Opossums: you either think they’re the cutest animal on the planet or the ugliest. Whether you find them cute or not, you probably don’t want them hanging around your house, getting too close to your chickens, or using your basement as a denning site.
Opossums use their olfactory system (nose) and auditory system (ears) the most to survive. You can use their acute hearing to your advantage by scaring opossums away with noise. Something as simple as clapping your hands can scare these marsupials away!
Scare tactics are great to use if you’re not keen on trapping, harming, or paying to have the animal removed. Let’s review some of the best sounds that scare opossums away.
- Opossums have an acute sense of hearing that can be used to scare them away with noise.
- Opossums are nocturnal creatures, so using sounds at night may be the most effective way to scare them.
- Simple sounds like clapping, wind chimes, or a radio can help keep opossums out of the yard.
How Can You Tell If You Are Dealing With Opossums?
Before you bust out your favorite tape deck, let’s make sure you’re dealing with the right critter. Opossums are often blamed for damaging lawns and home exteriors, but other possible culprits are hiding in the shadows.
Opossums have pretty large territories. The University of Florida backs this up by telling us the home range can be as small as a few acres to as large as 350 acres. As they wander through their territory, they may walk over the same land as a raccoon or squirrel and be blamed for damage.
Raccoons have a lot of the same habits as opossums – eating pet food, knocking over garbage, raiding your grill for scraps. But how can you tell the difference?
Check For Tracks
Opossums leave odd tracks in the mud and snow. If you can identify tracks around the garbage or the chicken coop, do a quick internet search to see if they’re more similar to a raccoon, squirrel, or an opossum.
Here are a few obvious differences you can look for:
|Small to medium
|Medium to large
|Small to medium
|Five-toed with distinct claw marks
|Five-toed with distinct claw marks
|Four-toed with long, curved claws
|Short and close together
|Medium and widely spaced
|Short and close together
|Diagonal walking pattern
|Diagonal walking pattern
|Hopping or bounding
|Trees, urban areas
|Forests, urban areas
|Trees, urban areas
Listen For Noises
Opossums and raccoons make a variety of noises, but luckily, they are very distinct from one another. Raccoons make more of a whirring sound while opossums use clicking sounds to communicate.
When threatened, both animals can hiss and growl to try to intimidate the predator, but their normal day-to-day sounds are distinctly different.
Look At Your Surroundings
Unlike most mammals in today’s age, opossums are expanding their territories instead of shrinking. Why? Mostly because of us!
Humans have provided opossums with food, water, and shelter in areas they never could have ventured into without us.
That being said, opossums have preferences when it comes to their home range. If you are located in any of the following settings, you’re in an opossum-approved landscape:
- Near a water source
- Housing plant next to forest cover
- Exurban environments
- Recently changed areas such as excavation areas or re-seeding areas.
Check Out The Damage
What kind of damage do you see that makes you suspect those rat-tailed marsupials? Common opossum problems include nesting in sheds or attics, chewing on house exteriors, wiring, or insulation, and eating your garden vegetables.
However, these could all be symptoms of something else. A raccoon, rat, skunk, or squirrel can easily cause the same damage. To add to the uncertainty, opossums are nocturnal so it may be difficult to spot the little havoc-wreakers.
You may have to break out your magnifying glass and call up your buddy John Watson to confirm your suspicions, but once you figure out what pest you are dealing with, you can choose the correct deterrents to keep them away for good!
Of course, seeing the critter is a surefire way of knowing it’s an opossum and not something else…It’s elementary.
9 Sounds That Scare Opossums
Now that you’ve confirmed the damage around your property is being caused by opossums, let’s get you equipped with all the noises that will scare them away.
Note: Using sound deterrents is a great way to deter opossums in the moment or after initial sightings. However, the long-term efficacy is not promising as opossums will eventually habituate to the noise.
Don’t worry, we’ll go over some permanent ways to keep opossums away later. For now, let’s appeal to an opossum’s auditory system, as it is one of the creature’s strongest senses.
1. Your Voice Can Scare Opossums Away
Opossums are not social creatures, and they will shy away from humans or avoid them when encountered. Because of this, your voice is useful in shooing them away.
If you see an opossum in your yard or raiding your garden, yelling is an effective way to scare them off. It will firstly alert them that something else is around, and secondly play to their sense of fear to escape a potential predator.
Yelling is a great tactic if you see the opossum. This will not be very effective if an opossum is already bundled up in your attic or beneath your porch.
2. Wind Chimes Will Make Opossums Think Twice
Wind chimes may seem like a harmless trinket to you, but those reverberating sounds are something entirely new to a wild opossum. And anything new to an opossum is scary!
Hanging wind chimes on your porch is more of a passive deterrent. It only makes noise when the wind blows, which makes it more effective because the noise is unpredictable.
But if you want to deter possums, you’ll want to hang the windchime in areas where opossums are more likely to be. Try hanging them on your garden fence, near any openings beneath buildings, or from a tree that borders your property line.
3. Pots And Pans Will Scare Opossums Away
Similar to yelling, banging on pots and pans is more of an immediate response to an opossum sighting in your yard.
The sudden loud noise will frighten opossums. Again, it’s something new, something sudden, and something they’re not used to.
If the opossum is tucked away in hiding already, the sound of pots and pans banging around outside will only encourage it to stay put and out of sight. Be sure to use this technique only if you spot these rascals walking, or rather trundling, around your yard.
4. Use A Radio To Keep Opossums Away
Radios are in between a passive and an active deterrent. The sound is always changing, making it unpredictable, but the sound is always constant, making it reliable.
A good option for a small hand radio would be the ROCAM Portable Radio. This product is a great choice because it’s hands-off: it has a solar power bank, an internal Li-Ion battery, and an optional AAA battery port. You can turn it on and let it sit anywhere you need it.
The best way to use a radio to keep an opossum away includes:
- Changing the location frequently – this will keep the opossum on its toes (or paws!)
- Change the station often – if the opossum is constantly hearing classic rock and roll, it’s going to get used to it eventually. Switching up from The Rolling Stones to Drake is a good way to keep opossums guessing.
- Talk shows may prove more effective – this is especially true with suburban opossums who are used to hearing human voices during the day and correlating the human voice with danger.
5. Hang Aluminum Pans In Hot Spots To Deter Opossums
Aluminum pans act similarly to windchimes. They’ll make noise if the wind blows or if an animal walks into them, which makes them unpredictable. Something as simple as DOBI’s Disposable Aluminum Foil Pie Plates will work just fine.
Unpredictable is good!
Try hanging these near the edges of your property line to stop opossums before they ever set a paw on your property. Hang them on garden fences, in open spaces beneath porches or sheds, and near your garbage cans.
These hot spots are where opossums are more likely to scavenge around for food or shelter. Placing your noise deterrents near hot spots makes the deterrent more effective and targeted.
6. Let Your Dog Bark To Scare Away Opossums
If you live in a more rural area and don’t have neighbors that will turn you into the HOA, consider letting your dog bark when it hears something outside.
This appeals to an opossum’s sense of fear. Barking could be a dog, wolf, coyote, fox, or any number of opossum predators.
Now, we’re not saying let your dog bark all night long. If they bark and bark and bark, eventually the opossum will get used to the noise and will lose its fear of the bark. But instead of immediately shushing your barking pal, try letting your dog bark for a few minutes before getting it to settle down back to bed.
7. Use Aluminum Foil To Freak Opossums Out
Aluminum foil has many uses – keeping things warm, keeping pans clean, and serving stadium dogs. It’s also noisy and reflective, a perfect noise and visual deterrent for opossums. Because aluminum foil can be shaped and cut in so many different ways, the possibilities are endless.
Laying the sheet down next to areas you want to protect is an effective deterrent. If the opossum steps over the aluminum foil, it will not feel good on their feet, it won’t sound good to their ears, and it won’t look good to their beady little eyes.
To secure the sheet down, you can use landscape staples like BzBirds Galvanized Garden Landscape Staples. You can also use heavy rocks or bags of sand to keep it secure as well.
Another option is to cut the aluminum foil into strips or sheets and hang them from your garden fence, property line trees, or other opossum hot spots. When the wind blows, the aluminum will rub together to make a sound, and it doubles as a visual deterrent.
Remember: new is scary!
8. Bioacoustics Can Fool Opossums
Bioacoustics is a tool similar to using a hand radio, except the noises are more targeted. At this point, you may be wondering what the heck is bioacoustics?
Bioacoustic noise deterrents use the sounds of natural predators to scare pest animals away. In the case of the opossum, you can use noises from owls, coyotes, barking dogs, foxes, raccoons, or bobcats.
There are a few ways you can do this, but one of the easiest is to set out Bluetooth speakers so it is in range of your phone and download recordings on your phone. This takes a little more tech knowledge, so may not be suitable for everyone.
If the opossum hears the sound of one of its predators, it will be fooled into thinking there is a predator around. It’s likely to avoid that area (your property) and find a new home. Opossums change denning sites periodically throughout the year, so don’t worry about putting them out of their home, especially if their home happens to be near your home!
9. Sprinklers Double As A Physical And Auditory Opossum Deterrent
You wouldn’t normally think of a sprinkler system as being an auditory deterrent, but think about the noise that sprinklers make when they turn on.
Hisssssss, chirp, chirp, chirp, hissssss…
While we’re not targeting a bioacoustic replica of a snake, if an opossum is tricked, all the better, right? But apart from sounding somewhat like a huge snake, sprinklers do make sudden, distinctively unique sounds.
The sound, paired with the physical blast of water, might be just what you need to scare off your pesky opossum.
You can try something like the Orbit Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler. This product gives you the options of day-only, night-only, or 24-hour activation. It has smart-sensing technology so that it will not activate if a tree blows in the wind, thus conserving water.
Other Ways To Deter Opossums
Opossums are not picky eaters. They are omnivores, so they’re down for a meat or vegetarian meal. This diverse pallet has made it difficult to manage opossums in urbanized environments.
There’s just too much good food to ignore if you’re an opossum!
So, you’ve got your noise deterrents set out, but you’re still seeing the occasional marsupial waddling around your yard. Don’t worry, noise deterrents are not meant to deter opossums by themselves. They’re meant to be paired with other deterrents to keep opossums away for good.
Avoid Providing Food To Opossums
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be feeding opossums without knowing it. If you feed your pets outside, have a bird feeder, set out salt licks, or feed your chickens on free-range, you’re inadvertently feeding opossums.
Opossums eat seeds, so if your birdfeeder looks like anyone else’s birdfeeder, you probably have seeds falling on the ground. This will attract opossums pretty fast, the same with salt licks for deer.
To avoid providing opossums with free birdseed, try using a catcher tray like the pranovo Bird Seed Catcher Tray. This connects right to your existing feeder and catches all the falling seeds.
Another inviting food item to opossums is pet food. If you feed your pets outside, be sure to clean up any spills and bring the dishes (and your pets) inside at night. If you keep your feed outdoors, be sure it is in a tight-fitting container that cannot be opened or pushed over.
Habitat Modification Can Keep Opposums Away
If an opossum is in your yard, it’s probably looking for food, water, or shelter. Opossums can sneak into small spaces and make a comfortable den without you ever knowing:
- Crawl Spaces
- Brushy Areas
- Wood Piles
- Rock Piles
- Holes in Siding
- Areas Beneath Buildings/Porches/Sheds
All of these places can be made opossum-proof with a few modifications. Be sure to plug any holes using wire mesh no larger than ¼-inch holes. Bury the mesh six inches beneath the soil to ensure opossums will not dig beneath it.
Wood piles should be stacked neatly and orderly to avoid creating holes that opossums can crawl into. If an opossum makes its way into your home, find the opening and wait for the opossum to leave before blocking the hole.
If you are thinking about putting in fencing to keep these critters away, consider reading this article that discusses whether Barbed Wire Stops Opposums.
Use Scent Deterrents Against Opposums
Scent deterrents are a great way to deter opossums from certain areas of your yard. If you’re noticing your garbage getting knocked over every night, you can target the scent there. If it’s your garden the opossum is after, target that. You get the point…
Scent deterrents can be helpful, but they need to be reapplied often to keep the scent strong, which can be tedious to some. If you’re interested in learning more about which scents deter opossums, check out our article Scents That Opossums Hate.
To recap the bare bones of the article, some of the most effective scents include:
- Hot Peppers
- Wolf’s Urine
- Pet Fur
Keep Your Garbage Secure
The food scraps, paper towels, and rotten food we throw in the trash may seem gross to us, but opossums only see free food.
There are a couple of ways you can keep opossums out of your garbage. One way is to store your garbage inside until pickup day. This is the most effective way, but not everyone has a place to store their garbage cans.
Another option is to purchase a lid lock like the Blazer Brand Universal Garbage Can Lid Lock Utility Strap. This product fits most-sized cans and does not require tools. It’s also easily accessible for pick-up crews.
The Best Opossum Deterrent
We’ve gone over auditory, visual, physical, and tactile deterrents for these rascally marsupials. Which one is the best?
The BEST deterrent for opossums is using a combination of the deterrents mentioned above. For example, you can keep your garbage cans locked up as tight as can be, but if you’re still leaving pet food out you’re going to continue having opossum problems.
Try to combine a few deterrents and see how they work. Use wind chimes and bioacoustics. Combine habitat modification with aluminum foil sheets and pans. See what works the best and stick with it!
That’s A Wrap!
Wildlife is wild. It’s unpredictable. And it makes our lives a little more interesting. Seeing an opossum might be the first sighting for you, or maybe you’ve been dealing with them for years.
Either way, you now have a handful of tools you can use to deter these little critters from your yard, home, and garden.
Here’s a recap of the nine sounds that will scare opossums away:
- Your voice
- Wind chimes
- Pots and pans
- Aluminum pans
- Your dog’s bark
- Aluminum Foil
If you continue to have an opossum problem after exhausting your deterrent tools, get help from a professional! Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in touch with a wildlife professional near you for free.
Gilleland, Amanda H., “Human-Wildlife Conflict Across Urbanization Gradients: Spatial, Social, and Ecological Factors” (2010). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.
Heinlein, B. W., Urbanek, R. E., Olfenbuttel, C., & Dukes, C. G. (2019, July 10). Effects of different attractants and human scent on mesocarnivore detection at camera traps. Wildlife Research, 47(4), 338-348.
Teixeira, L., Tisovec-Dufner, K. C., Lima Marin, G. d., Marchini, S., Dorresteijn, I., & Pardini, R. (202, May 13). Linking human and ecological components to understand human-wildlife conflicts across landscapes and species. Conservation Biology, 35(1), 285-296.
Walsh, L. L., & Tucker, P. K. (2017, August 30). Contemporary range expansion of the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) impacted by humans and snow cover. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 96(2), 107-115.
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