Possums, more correctly known as opossums (Didelphis virginiana), can decimate your garden, especially your vegetables and fruit-bearing plants. These cat-sized omnivores eat everything from fruits and veggies to snails and birds. Although the marsupials are generally harmless, you can keep them away from your plants with nontoxic repellents, physical barriers, and harmless scare devices.
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Simple Scare Tactics
These harmless scare tactics will startle any possums that come into your yard so that they'll be unlikely to return:
- Tie helium balloons around your yard to sway in the wind and startle the possums away.
- Place pinwheels, found in party supply stores, in the soil around your plants. The pinwheels will spin in the wind.
- Set up an oscillating fan in your garden with an extension cord. Tie a few brightly colored ribbons to the fan so that they stream out when the fan is running. The sight and sound of the fan should scare the possums away.
- Play a portable radio in your yard. The noise will scare away the possums, but check with your neighbors to ensure that they aren't disturbed.
Possums are easily scared and will "play possum" by freezing and playing dead when they are frightened. They'll be fine if you leave them alone to recover for about 20 minutes. Left undisturbed, they will then arise and run off.
To prevent the possums coming into your yard from acclimating to your scare devices, purchase some motion-activated equipment to keep the element of surprise intact.
Set up a few motion-activated sprinklers around your yard. When a possum approaches them, the sprinkler will give it a harmless but scary squirt of water. The water will frighten away the possums and keep your plants well-hydrated.
Another option is to install a few motion-activated lights in your backyard. Possums are nocturnal little creatures that enjoy the cover of darkness. The lights will scare them away and make it uncomfortable for them to stick around.
Barriers to Repel Possums
One of the best ways to repel possums from your yard is to keep them out of the spaces where they can find food, namely your garden:
- Surround your garden plants, especially the edibles, with chicken wire, or poultry wire fencing at least 4 feet high. Bend the top foot outward so that possums can't climb over.
- Rub a little vegetable shortening along the top of existing wood or stone fences so the little creatures will slip off when they attempt to climb them.
- Use bird netting to cover the specific plants the possums have been targeting to keep them from getting to the tender leaves and fruits. Netting is an effective deterrent for many types of garden pests.
Taste and Smell Deterrents
Repel possums by sprinkling a bit of chili powder or cayenne pepper around your plants. Don't forget to mix the powder with any birdseed that you have in feeders around your yard. The chili powder is harmless to birds, which aren't put off by the spicy flavor, and will taste unpleasant to any possums attracted to the feeders.
Ammonia doesn't just smell unpleasant to humans, but it also smells icky to possums as well. Soak a few cloths in the stinky stuff and place them on plates around your garden. The smell should chase the possums away, and the plates will protect your plants from being harmed by the ammonia.