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Opossums can cause considerable damage when they live in a house or attic. They need nesting material, and as wild animals, have unpredictable and variable behavior. If you've got possums living somewhere in your home, I recommend a full inspection of the area, such as the attic, to check to see for any damage caused.
Here we see opossum feces and a torn air duct in an attic where an opossum was trapped.
Probably the most significant "damage" caused by possums is their waste that they leave behind. They poop a lot, and they can turn an attic into a regular toilet! The turds are usually fairly large, as seen above.
The only thing worse, and which smells worse, than the opossum waste is a dead possum. Holy crap, does a rotting opossum carcass stink! In this house, an opossum died in the ceiling. This was because the ignorant tenant living in this apartment jammed steel mesh into the possum's exit hole. It was a huge animal, and it made the apartment unlivable. There were hundreds or thousands of flies when I showed up, and the smell was beyond belief. Opossums grow large and they only live a couple of years, and they very commonly die inside homes. For this reason alone, a possum problem should never be ignored!
You may want to read some of my other opossum articles: possum removal - opossums in the attic - photos of possum poop - types of possum problems - possum trapping - how to catch a possum - pest control of possums - possum in the wall - possum in the house - possum in basement - possum repellent - possum poison - types of possum damage - what diseases can opossums carry? - best ways to get rid of opossums - how should you kill an opossum? - do animal services or the city help with opossum issues? - how do wildlife rehabilitators take care of opossums?.
Many other NWCOs are surprised when I tell them that I deal with opossums in attics. Well, I do, very frequently. In the spring, I deal with opossums in attics more frequently than I do squirrels, and almost as frequently as raccoons. Opossums are excellent climbers, and have no problems using the same types of entry points that raccoons and squirrels take advantage of. The case usually involves a mother with young - typical for attic cases. Opossums in attics are usually easier than the average critter. Many animals are hard to catch inside the attic itself. Many of you may have discovered that you are much more effective setting a trap outside, near the entrance to the attic, than you are inside the attic itself. Perhaps this is because many animals aren't in a "foraging mode" inside the attic, or perhaps because they don't cross paths with the baited trap, if they stick to hard-to-reach spots like soffits. However, opossums seem to readily enter traps set in the attic. When I inspect an attic for sign - and believe me, opossums leave it in copious amounts - I notice that opossums seem to use the entire attic. They don't stick to edges the way squirrels or raccoons often do. I can set traps conveniently close to hatches, and the opossums will enter, usually within the very first night. Without the concern of catching accidental cats, I can set attic traps with as much canned cat food as I like, and the opossums are mine lickety-split. Do possums have rabies
Opossum Situation: Hi David, I read your website, and first and foremost, thank you for giving the public the kind of information we need with regard to this ever growing opossum problem. I live in Canada, and am finding it very difficult to find a company that is thorough enough for my liking. I find most of them lazy and I would not trust them with a stuffed animal. With that said, I was recently awakened by loud thumbing noises in my attic at approximately 7:30 AM and they lasted for approximately 20 minutes. I haven't heard anything since until yesterday, and the same noises penetrated through my ceiling. I am having a wildlife technician come out to assess because unfortunately you are in the States, but I would like to know your opinion on whether to have the attic cleaned professionally of the fecal matter. I was told that removing the fecal matter can be more dangerous than leaving it there, because the technician has to physically go through your house to get into your attic, and can transfer the fecal matter into your house in the removal process. I am extremely concerned about this, as I have an elderly mother living with me and two dogs. If the opossum has not been in my attic long, would you recommend leaving the feces to dry out, or would you still have the attic decontaminated? When you have a chance to reply, I would really, really appreciate it. Thank you.
My Response: I would just let the feces dry out, so long as you don't go and have contact with them any time soon. If you can get someone, like a handyman, to inspect the attic for damage and remove the feces by hand (with proper protection of course) that'd be great.
Article topics include: Do possums cause damage in an attic - damage caused by opossums in the house - photographs of possum damage