Opossum in the Attic

Over the weekend my wife and I discovered that we have an uninvited guest living in our attic crawlspace: an opossum. (This isn't a hoax.) As we were sitting on our patio we heard it moving around and soon discovered that it had found a gap (that we had never been aware of) in the side of the overhang above the kitchen door whereby it could gain access to the crawlspace. I rigged up a camera and managed to get a picture of it sticking its face out. So my question is, does anyone know what to do about an opossum in the attic? Will it leave of its own accord after a while? (We suspect it's been there for at least a couple of weeks.) Or do we have to get professionals out to remove it? I don't want to hurt it, because from what I understand they're fairly useful animals that kill rats, snakes, cockroaches, and other rodents.


Posted on Mon Sep 12, 2005


Try a bowl of amonia. They hate the smell and it won't hurt the animal.
Posted by Brian G  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  09:25 AM
awww ... it's cute! keep it!! raspberry

you could try one of those hav-a-hart cages ( they don't hurt them ) ... or just call your local animal control peoples. maybe even the cops if you're desperate. i'm sure they'd absolutely love that call ...
Posted by jesykah mahree  in  jacksonville  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  09:36 AM
You could always threaten to eat it unless people send you lots of money.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  09:41 AM
Yeah, if you want to do it yourself, those hav-a-hart traps work well. We used them whenever we got squirrels in the attic when I was a kid. We'd catch them and then drive them about 15 miles away to a county conservation area.
Posted by Silentz  in  general  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  09:43 AM
I'd keep it.

But then I feed the mice that are living in our outside toilet.
Posted by Killer Bob  in  UK  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  09:58 AM
Rid yourself of it and seal the entrance. If it can get in then squirrels and other animals can get in. Don't forget, wild beasties can bring fleas, ticks, and diseases into the house.
Posted by Neal  in  Ky  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  10:17 AM
Charybdis, you're a genius. I think I'll call my campaign "Save Fred."
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  10:25 AM
I think you should call animal control. They are professionals and will come and get the opossum safely and release him into the wild.
Posted by holly  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  10:29 AM
Call Animal Control to remove the critter. They eat garbage and might drag a snack home. It will possibly tear up any insulation you have up there to make a cozy little nest. Come Spring (mating season), you could have a whole family of the little darlin's!
Posted by Ellen  in  Napa CA  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  10:44 AM
I don't know what you should do, but you should probably read about Real Live Preacher's epic struggle with a raccoon in his attic.


No matter how hard it is for you, it was harder for him.
Posted by Laura Moncur  in  Salt Lake City, Utah  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  11:22 AM
Animal control in this area only deals with domestic animals. They also will only come get an animal if it has already been trapped. (As in, I've got to bait and trap, and then wait for someone to come get it.) We have to call a pest control service (and PAY FOR IT) if we want anything other than non-domestic animals picked up.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  11:52 AM
When I had one in my crawl space, I was advised by animal control to sprinkle flour around it's traffic area, then wait until I was sure it was out before completely sealing the crawl space. It took us a couple of days of trial and error, but we eventually managed to get it out and keep it out.

You don't want it living up there, for the reasons others cited. We had an expert come in after we'd gotten it out to check and make sure there weren't any remains left, and the guy removed some "garbage" that the opossum left. Opossums in neighborhood = good, opossums in house = bad.
Posted by Laura Gjovaag  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  12:11 PM

If the possum has only one means of attic access then a havahart trap blocking that avenue will work pretty well. Some county animal control agencies rent them out. As do some rental places. Secure it so it can't be moved. Bait it with peanut butter. Release the critter far away. And don't dawdle or it will drop a liter up there.
Posted by CCC  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  12:23 PM
Reminds me of last year's "Bees" incident.

Animals just like you, Alex. Maybe next it'll be a jackalope.
Posted by PlantPerson  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  12:52 PM
YAY! Cuteness! grin Lucky you!
Posted by eovti  in  Sandefjord, Norway  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  01:28 PM
I'm going to try the flour trick, then when it's gone seal up the hole.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  01:41 PM
ceep it
Posted by Nightmare  in  Formaly ED  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  03:10 PM
Possums that find hideyholes and stay there are usually carrying a litter already. I vote humane trap.
Posted by Steph  in  denial  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  04:03 PM
That's a really good photo, Alex. Opossums are not so easy to photograph.

I like the "Pay me or I'll eat it" plan. Fried possum is supposed to be pretty good (although that's one I haven't tried yet). During the Great Depression it was known in the Southeast as "poor man's chicken."

A friend of mine was putting out food for a stray cat and one night discovered the "kitty" was actually a big possum. She named it Opie and became quite fond of the critter. It never came in the house, though.

If you do decide you want to get rid of it, though, try lighting up the attic as brightly as possible. Opossums are nocturnal and they generally find a dark place to hole up in the daytime. If you light it up, it won't be so hospitable a place to hang out.

You might also put a stereo up there and play some Britney Spears or Spice Girls tunes at high volume, to make things even rougher on your day sleeper. That would get rid of me, anyway.
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  05:01 PM
Years ago, I removed a whole family of opossums (mom & young ones)from my dad's basement . Thanks to their legendary behavior upon being cornered, they weren't that hard to catch. I just corralled them into a corner with a broom & then scooped them up with kitchen tongs. The creatures resided in an old fish tank until we released them into a nearby park.
Posted by rongo  in  schenectady  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  06:22 PM
ammonia worked for us, and after only one try. we had one living under the house in the cozy little spot in the bottom of the bathtub. Loud as heck at night! my husband went under there and poured a small amount of bottled ammonia in there, and it never came back. good luck. definitely seal up the hole!
Posted by thephrog  in  CA USA  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  09:36 PM
This is a hoax, nice one Alex!

It's obviously just an alien and not an opossum at all.
Posted by Peter  in  london  on  Tue Sep 13, 2005  at  04:26 AM
Ammonia sounds like a good solution. (Despite the giggle.) Another one is to sprinkle hot pepper flakes around.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Tue Sep 13, 2005  at  05:47 AM
Everything you wanna know about them:
Posted by Beasjt  in  Earth  on  Tue Sep 13, 2005  at  05:49 AM
The ammonia thing I read earlier does work.....seen it on animal cops.....
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Tue Sep 13, 2005  at  07:42 AM
Opossums can also kill cats, so keep that in mind.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Sep 14, 2005  at  01:53 AM
How about an update, Alex?

Is Mr. (or Ms.) Opossum still up in the attic?
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Sep 16, 2005  at  10:50 AM
you should put a door, maybe made out of aluminum that hinges outwards and won't open by shoving in from the outside; this way when he leaves to get food, he won't be able to get back in and will go find another place to live
Posted by David Silver  on  Fri Sep 16, 2005  at  12:21 PM
when hes out seal up his hole and also cover the roof that hes getting in through with something crinkly or sticky
Posted by laurel  in  elkhart indiana  on  Sat Sep 24, 2005  at  05:56 PM
Well, my dog captured a possum today and left it at the back door. I thought it was dead at first but it wasn't (Yeah..yeah...OK...I'm new to this country and this is my first encounter with a possum....I'd heard the phrase before but had never seen it happen)
Anyway...I dragged the dog inside and then was at a complete loss as to what to do. Should I have picked it up and put it somewhere safe? Would it have tried to eat me? Shold I have just left it?
What I did was pushed it onto a dolly with the intention of wheeling it across the road and setting it free but it jumped off the dolly and ran back into the back yard. Now I'm frightened to let the dog back out in case he finds it again and kills it.

Hopefully it will have found it's way out of the yard by the time I let the dog out but I would like to know what I should have done so I will have a better idea should it happen again.

Thanks for any advice.

Posted by David  in  SoCal  on  Sat Oct 01, 2005  at  01:02 AM
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