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How to Repel Opossums

Opossums don't mind the ingredients that are typically used to repel animals, which is why it's important to avoid repellent formulas, and instead set up an electronic repellent to drive them out of your yard. The below step-by-step instructions will help you select and install a repellent, as well as make some small changes to your yard to maintain an opossum-free home.

1 Identify Areas of Damage

trash can

The best way to repel an opossum is with a motion-activated sprinkler. In order to determine how many repelling sprinklers you will need, it's important to identify each damage area on your property.

Common opossum activities include:

  • pilfering tipped trash cans
  • stealing fruits, berries and bird seed
  • raiding barns or poultry houses - stealing eggs or chicks
  • living underneath your house/porch
  • nesting in your attic, basement or crawlspace* destroying ductwork and/or chewing through electrical wires

*If the opossums are indoors - i.e. inside your attic, basement, etc. - you may have to use a live trap or have a professional remove it. To learn more, read How to Trap an Opossum »

motion activated sprinkler

2 Obtain a Motion-Activated Sprinkler

A motion-activated sprinkler will seek out opossum activity and release startling bursts of water to repel them and condition them to stay away from virtually any outdoor area.

There are two types of motion-activated sprinklers on the market from which to choose depending on your yard, preferences and opossum density:

  • unlimited water supply - best for high animal density
  • requires a hose connection
  • battery-operated
  • stakes into soft ground/soil
  • refillable water basin makes the unit portable
  • solar-powered
  • best for low to moderate opossum activity
  • flat base - can be placed on almost any surface

If damage is found in different areas of your yard, or you want to repel opossums from the entire property, you may need to install multiple units.

Shop Electronic Repellents »

3 Apply as Directed


Position each repellent to deter approaching opossums from reaching the damage areas. Be mindful of the coverage area of your particular unit - if the area you want to protect exceeds the square footage, you will need to set up multiple devices. Some examples of placement include:

  • the back corners of your garden
  • around the perimeter of an un-fenced property
  • at each entryway to your property, structure or damage area
  • in front of the opossums' den or burrow
  • beside your trash cans

4 Set Up as Directed

instruction manual

Set up your electronic opossum repellent(s) according to the product manual. Some steps critical to your success include:

  • Point the infrared sensor and the sprinkler in the direction opossums will be approaching.
  • Carefully set your sensitivity based upon your desired coverage area and the average temperature during which activity occurs (nighttime). Use the guidelines provided in the manual.
  • Test the sensitivity after you set it to be sure the device can detect at the desired distance.

Once a unit is set up, check the battery and/or water level periodically, and adjust the sensitivity as the climate changes.

5 Reduce Attractants

basket of vegetables

One of the most important steps in repelling opossums is eliminating all potential food sources, cover and shelter. Important actions to take include:

  • cleaning up fallen berries, fruits and bird seed
  • storing trash and compost in airtight, animal-proof containers
  • removing all traces of food, drink and pet food before dusk
  • trimming tree branches within 10 feet of your roof
  • repairing broken vents or screens that may lead indoors

TIP: Opossums have an excellent sense of smell, so any trace of food, juice or crumbs can potentially attract them. If you can, avoid feeding your pets outdoors. Havahart® also suggests periodically washing garbage bins.

Expert Tips

  • Opossums are extremely opportunistic and unparticular, and they're usually unaffected by foul-smelling or tasting ingredients. They are much more threatened by scare tactics, which is why the best way to repel an opossum is with a motion-activated sprinkler.
  • Prevent opossums from entering your yard altogether by positioning electronic repellents along the border of your property.
  • To drive an opossum from its den using electronic repellents: locate the opossum's den - they take shelter in a variety of covered areas such as under porches, in tree hollows, below bushes, or in abandoned animal burrows. Place a motion-activated sprinkler directly outside the den facing outwards, and turn it on at night. After several unwelcome returns, the opossum will want to find shelter elsewhere.
  • Repelling opossums is just one part of an integrated control plan. To learn about all of the steps you can take to remedy your problem, read How to Get Rid of Opossums »

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