Opossums were initially discovered and named in Virginia, and are the largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere. Sometimes referred to as "possum", they are scavengers and their flexible diets help them to survive in diverse locations and conditions. Typically, we see the North American Opossum in our area, they are grayish brown and white, and have long, hairless, prehensile tails.
These pests will feed on almost anything, being omnivorous scavengers. You may find them eating garbage, flowers, plants, insects, or small animals such as mice. They are nocturnal and rather intelligent. They even feign death when they feel threatened, an involuntary reaction that can last up to 6 hours until they feel the threat has been withdrawn. However, this should not be taken as a sign of docility, as they can be very ferocious. They have been known to attack small animals, and they can carry fleas and assorted diseases.
Signs of an Opossum Problem
These animals have become accustomed to living in rural and suburban areas and will seek food and shelter anywhere. You may hear noises outside as they rummage through garbage cans, mostly at night as they are nocturnal. Some people mistake them for rats because of their tails, but they are not closely related to rodents. They have been known to find their way indoors without being able to get out.
Getting Rid of Opossums
If you suspect that you have opossum activity in your home, it's best to contact a professional. Do not attempt to capture them on your own, they should be handled with extreme care and relocated to ensure everyone's safety.