Management and Control of Skunks,
Mostly active at night, raccoons may be seen at
dawn or dusk and sometimes even in the middle of the
Raccoons, and Opossums
Exclusion. These animals can be prevented from
day. Winter months are spent in the den, but they do
not hibernate. They may become active during warm
entering buildings by repairing breaks in foundation
and screening crawlspace vents with hardware cloth
Raccoons feed on animals and plants. In the
If the animal is currently living under
spring and summer, they feed on crayfish, mussels,
the building, seal all openings but one,
frogs, and fish. In the fall, they switch to fruits, seeds,
then sprinkle a tracking patch of talc at
nuts, and grains. They also eat mice, squirrels. and
birds, and are quite happy knocking over a garbage
Examine the area after dark. If tracks
can. Raccoons, too, can transmit rabies.
show that the animal has left, close this
last opening immediately.
Seal attic openings.
Cap chimneys with a wire cage or other
When excluding animals in spring or early
summer, be aware that young may also be present. Be
sure that all animals have been removed before sealing
the building. Otherwise, a serious odor problem from
a dead animal could result.
Pour one or two boxes of naphthalene
balls down vent chimneys to run out
Live Trapping. The best way to remove animals
Related to kangaroos, the opossum is the only
from around buildings is to trap them.
marsupial in North America. The opossum is a whitish
or grayish animal the size of a house cat. Its face is
long and pointed with rounded, hairless ears. It grows
A word of warning: In many areas of
up to 40 inches long. It will weigh up to 14 pounds;
the country, releasing a trapped animal is
the average is six to seven pounds for males and four
illegal. This is particularly true with
pounds for females. Their tracks look like they were
skunks and raccoons because they can
made by little human or monkey hands.
carry rabies. Another word of warning:
Opossums prefer to live near streams or swamps,
The spotted skunk is protected in some
but in some areas they have become the most common
states. A final word of warning: Some of
nonrodent mammal. They den in the burrows of other
these animals may be regulated as
large animals, and in tree cavities, brush piles, and
furbearers under fish and game laws of
under sheds and buildings. Occasionally, they move
into attics and garages.
your state. Know your state and local
They eat nearly everything, from insects to
regulations before proceeding.
carrion, fruits to grains, garbage to pet food.
Opossums are active at night. Their mating season is
January to July, and they may raise two to three litters
per year. Most young die in their first year. Those that
If the animal must be killed, lower the
survive may live up to seven years.
trap into a tub of water or gas it with a
Opossums move slowly. Their top speed is about
fumigant or CO2.
seven miles per hour. When threatened, opossums
If the animal is to be released, do it far
climb trees or go down into burrows. If cornered, they
away from human dwellings. Use what
may growl, hiss, bite, screech, and exude a smelly
you have learned about the biology of
green fluid from their rear end. If these defenses aren't
the animal to find a suitable habitat.
successful, they may play dead. They have the
The release site for these large animals
undeserved reputation of being stupid.
should be over ten miles away from the
As a pest, the main complaint against opossums
is that they get into garbage, bird feeders, or pet food
Remember to check state regulations.
Set traps as close to the den as possible
where damage is occurring, e.g., at
Module Three Chapter 5, Pg 9