As cold weather creeps in and nighttime temperatures fall, your garage can become a safe haven for many pesky critters. A common occurrence, especially in rural areas, is having a possum enter your property and attempt to set up camp.
Possums can be deterred from entering your garage by some simple prevention tactics. They can also be startled away using sound, water, and light. You must outsmart them and make them uncomfortable with returning to your property.
Possums and Their Problems
In order to understand how to scare a possum out of the garage, you should first understand how they operate.
Visually observing the possum will obviously be the quickest way to determine if they are the culprit for tearing up your garage. But there are a few other signs to look for.
The biggest giveaway for a possum problem is noticing their droppings. They are larger than rodent droppings and more similar to that of a small dog, and they will be plentiful in the suspected area of infestation.
Another clue is loud commotion, particularly at night. Possums are very vocal animals, especially when threatened by other critters in the area. There will be loud scratching, rooting, squeaking, and even the strange sound of lip-smacking by mother possums.
Lastly, possums carry with them a very unpleasant odor (more on that later). It is stronger and more obnoxious than just plain rotting garbage – it will smell like a rotting animal.
If you notice all of these signs, you most likely have a possum on the premises.
Possums are nocturnal animals by nature because they have fairly poor eyesight. This is why most of the damage and commotion will occur at night under the cover of darkness.
Possums are actually prolific climbers and swimmers, so there is very little that will prevent them from getting their meal. This is why they are so common to find living in attics because the consistent lack of light and the high elevation provides them more safety and comfort than a tree trunk or a burrow.
Though rare, possums can attack when cornered when their primary method of playing dead doesn’t work. They will hiss at you and growl first, so take that as a warning sign to back away.
Instead of attacking, a possum will most likely play dead when they get scared. This trick is very effective in the animal world, but possums up the ante when it comes to playing pretend.
They will roll on their backs, open their mouths, and slow down their respirations to make them look dead. They will then take this act one step further by producing a very unforgiving odor from their anal glands, so they smell like they are rotting.
This is a smart move in the animal kingdom because even well-known scavengers like coyotes and feral dogs won’t feast on a meal that they believe has gone sour. Great for the possum, not so great for you and your nose.
Possums are indiscriminate in their destruction. They will chew and scratch on the wood sidings of homes to get to their meals, they are notorious lovers of cat food and chicken eggs, and they leave a mess in their wake.
Aside from the damage they can inflict on your property and other animals, they also carry a host of diseases. Touching a possum, coming into contact with their droppings, or getting bit by one leaves you open to contracting certain diseases such as rabies, tuberculosis, and leptospirosis.
Never attempt to catch a possum with your bare hands!
Daytime vs. Nighttime
Possums are most effectively scared off at night because they are nocturnal by nature. If you see a possum during the day, it’s a strong indication that the animal is either sick or injured & will be more aggressive than usual.
Don’t attempt to scare away a sick or injured possum during the daytime. Trap them humanely if you can and contact animal control right away.
How to Get Rid of a Possum in Your Garage
The trick to scaring off and preventing any more possums is to be diligent in your defense and make the environment as uninviting as possible for them.
A quick note: While this article tends to make possums out to be nothing but a giant headache, they actually are beneficial for the environment. Their diet includes mice, slugs, and small insects such as ticks and ants.
It is also illegal to kill them in certain states. If possible, you should always opt for the most humane route of keeping them off your property and avoid snares or snap traps that will injure or kill them.
Okay, so this one isn’t technically going to scare them away, but it will help you catch a possum in your garage.
It’s a humane option to trap the possum and call your local animal control company to relocate them. The purchase and use of live traps is fairly easy, but it does require a solution for removing the critter once they are trapped.
Probably the most effective method of keeping a possum out of a certain area is to illuminate it with bright lights because they can’t see well unless it’s dark so they will want to leave.
Flip the lights on in the area or grab a bright flashlight and shine it directly in their face. They will startle and start scrambling for darkness.
For the future, you can install motion-activated lights in problem areas that will turn on when they get close. Possums are very smart and will learn quickly that it’s not an area they feel safe foraging in.
Water works to scare them away just as lights do. You can spray them with a hose if you can see them directly, and it will startle them, causing them to flee.
Similar in theory to motion-activated lights, motion-activated sprinklers will also deter them from returning to the area.
It’s important to understand that with both the light method and the water method, you want to take them by surprise. Since their primary defense mechanism is to play dead, if they hear you coming, they may roll over & these methods could end up being less effective.
Loud, Jarring Noises
Once again, if the possum thinks you are a predator, it will simply roll over and play dead. If you can see the possum or know the general area it is hiding, you can start banging pots and pans together to scare it out of hiding and off the property.
Blasting a loud radio is also effective, just make sure not to wake your neighbors!
Use Strong Smells
Possums strongly dislike the smells of garlic and ammonia. If you feel like Mr. Possum is starting to make your garage his nightly pitstop, spray all entry areas with ammonia or sprinkle crushed garlic all over the floor.
Ammonia can be strong and harmful to humans if used incorrectly, so proceed with caution on this route.
If you’ve successfully startled away your unwelcome guest, now you need to think about preventing them from returning. They found something inviting about your property, and you need to figure out what it is.
Seal up Trash
Possums love trash. All the yummy bugs and rotten food are like a buffet for scavenging possums. Make sure your trash cans are sealed up and if necessary, get a weight to place on top of your bins or a lock to seal the closed.
These crafty creatures can easily open lightly sealed lids.
Remove Pet Foods
It’s been said that a possum’s favorite snack is cat food. Truthfully any kind of animal food is delicious to them – including chicken feed.
Do your best to fortify any coops so they can’t enter, and don’t leave pet food bowls on the floor. Try to feed your animals in the dusk, so their food is gone by nighttime.
If you must feed at night, illuminate the area with lights to help deter them.
Remove Brush & Woodpiles
Even though this isn’t a food source, it is a shelter source. Possums may take cover in brush piles and wood piles during the day and then emerge at night to help themselves to whatever they find around the area.
Clear brush piles where you can and store your firewood inside a shed or your garage.
Seal Entry Points
Double check all areas of your garage to ensure there’s no apparent way in for the larger critters. Chicken Wire and wood panels are sturdy enough to keep them out of sheds and garages.
Nobody likes a critter problem. And while possums on your property can be frustrating, it’s crucial to realize they are opportunistic animals. They only arrive if you make it easy for them and they only stay if you make it comfortable.
Remove any potential for food and shelter. Also, make sure the problem areas are able to be illuminated in bright light to deter them from entering again.