Opossums, although not deliberately destructive or aggressive, are quite messy animals naturally, leaving a sea of mess in their wake. That works in your favor, although you probably don’t appreciate it at the time; you can use the mess you see to better understand the animal, not only working out what animal you have hanging about your property, but also where it is frequenting the most, and how best to get rid of it.
If you have soft/wet/dusty ground:
You may just see the odd opossum paw print if you look hard enough, but only if the ground material is soft enough for the creature to actually leave an imprint. You will see four paws — two at the front and two at the back. The ones at the back have four ‘toes’, each with a claw at the end, plus another digit that is ‘opposable’, just like a cat. The paws at the front are similar, but there are no opposable digits and five ‘toes’, again, each with a claw at the end.
You may also see signs of the animal dragging along the floor, particularly on dirty or dusty floors. Opossums have a tail that makes up a third of the body, so there’s a good chance it will leave some sort of track behind it.
On all ground surfaces:
Feces and signs of urination are pretty good ‘symptoms’ of an animal infestation, the feces itself telling you which animal has decided to inhabit your home. Opossums are quite large animals, and their poop will be equally as large. In some cases, opossum feces can be around the same size as dog feces — homeowners can confuse the two very easily when the poop is outside in the back garden.
If you see what appears to be dog poop in your attic, crawl spaces, under the porch or decking, etc., there’s a chance it could have been left there by an opossum. They are commonly found in these places across central, east and even west-coast areas of North America.
On your property:
Knocked-over trash cans are a common sign of opossum invasions, but they’re also a common sign of raccoons, too. Opossums are scavengers, and they will happily tear through the black bag material to get to the leftovers and bad food contained within. Foxes will do the same thing, as will a number of other common pest animals.
Bird feeders are frequently rummaged by opossums, alongside any feed left out for chickens or food for other animals/pets. You will also find that your compost heap is hard hit, alongside vegetable patches or flower beds/gardens, and if the opossums can get inside your chicken coop, they’ll go hunting for eggs, probably killing or maiming a few chickens in the process. You should always make sure that your chicken coop is 100% secure from scavengers and other pests. They are the biggest attractant — food is usually what attracts any pest animal to your property.
While we’re on the subject of animals, opossums will wreak havoc with your pets. There will be fights over food and territories, and you must bear in mind that ALL wild/pest animals come with their fair share of disease concerns. It is considered that opossums are NOT carriers or transmitters of the rabies virus, because their body temperature is far lower than what the virus needs to establish itself, but that doesn’t mean the animal is disease-free. Far from it. Alongside some very serious diseases, there are also common concerns, such as fleas, ticks, mites, and other parasites, including worms.
In your building:
Opossums can cause endless amounts of damage physically forcing their way into the property, including ripping vents from windows, ruining ducts, breaking siding and eaves, and much more. Wild animals are unpredictable and also appear to be getting smarter. For every way you come up with to prevent that animal from getting inside your home, it will find a way around it. That’s why you need to be ahead of the game, protecting and preventing infestations. The old saying states that prevention is better than cure, and that’s 100% the case with wild animal interlopers who definitely do not want to be moved along.
Feces and urine can soon start to build up in the building, particularly once a spring “maternity” generation is in full bloom. This will attract flies and other insects, and so will the dead bodies of opossums. It is incredibly common for these pests to enter homes and then die in there, either because it’s nice and warm and safe for them to do so, or because they are trapped and unable to find a way back out again. As you can imagine, the scent emanating from the biological material will become unbearable after a while — the feces and dead carcasses.
When you have an opossum living under your porch, you don’t just have a problem that is centered around that porch; you have a problem that spreads far and wide, not just on your property, but beyond that, too. The opossum won’t just spend its time under your porch. It’ll travel, perhaps into your home to find food. Maybe it won’t even get that far. It doesn’t need to; with feces left in the right places, those diseases are spread before you even have a chance to realize a wild interloper has taken residence in your yard.