Growing to about the same size as a house cat, opossums can usually be identified by their long, pointed snouts, lengthy tails, and large ears. Their coloring can vary from brown to red in some cases, but most opossums have gray fur.

Opossums are the only marsupial animal in the United States, but these pests can cause more than enough issues. Here’s what Sacramento homeowners should know about the dangers of opossums, what attracts them to your yard, and what you can do if you’re dealing with an opossum problem.

Are Opossums Dangerous?

Like most wildlife, your first question when encountering an opossum is probably: are they dangerous? The answer is yes, although opossums are usually not as aggressive as they look.

Most of the time, opossums prefer to avoid conflict with people or other animals, but they may hiss at you if you get too close. In rare cases, opossums may lash out and bite if they feel cornered, but it’s rare for these marsupials to bite people.

Just because they’re not usually aggressive doesn’t mean opossums aren’t dangerous. These critters can still pose a threat, but mostly because of the dangerous diseases they can spread to you or your family, such as:

  • Leptospirosis
  • Coccidiosis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Tularemia
  • Spotted fever

Besides the diseases listed above, opossums, like any wild animal, can also host plenty of parasites – like fleas, ticks, or mites. If they get too close to your pets, family, or even just your home, these parasites may also invade your property and harm you.

Anyone who owns a horse may need to especially be on the lookout for opossums. These marsupials carry a protozoan, Sarcocystis neurona, which can lead to neurological disease in horses. 

an opossum in a yard

What Attracts Opossums To Your Yard?

While some properties may be more at risk for opossum infestations than others, there’s a couple of factors that can attract these critters to your yard. Here’s what you can do to reduce opossum attractions.

Overflowing Garbage Cans

Like a lot of wild animals, opossums usually end up in your yard or property because of your garbage cans. If you’ve got readily available trash sitting outside, opossums aren’t shy about paying a visit – and they aren’t picky either. Opossums are scavengers, so they’ll feast on anything edible that they can pick out of a trash can, compost heap, or another trash pile.

The best way to reduce this attraction is by making sure you’re regularly emptying your outdoor trash cans before they overflow and keeping a tight lid on cans that have food in them. Don’t leave scraps or trash lying around outside unless it’s in a tightly-sealed bin or can.


After they hang around your trash cans, don’t be surprised if opossums visit your garden either. Gardens full of veggies and fruit can entice opossums, although these pests don’t mind eating slugs or weeds, too.

While you may not want to get rid of your garden, you can place barriers around it or keep it several feet from your home. If possible, you can even try limiting certain foods that you’re planting, like vegetables or potatoes, that may draw in opossums.

Standing Water Sources

Once they’re done picking through your trash, opossums may be thirsty – and the first place they’ll head is somewhere with moisture. Standing water sources, like puddles, birdbaths, or fountains, can lure opossums into your yard (and keep them coming back).

Make sure you’re identifying drainage issues around your property, like sunken ground or obstructed gutters, and addressing them as soon as possible.

How To Remove Opossums From Your Property In Sacramento, CA

Even if an opossum isn’t likely to bite you, it can contaminate you with other diseases, pathogens, or parasites, if you get too close. The best and safest way to rid your property of opossums is with professional help from HomeShield Pest Control. Not only have we got the tools and experience to safely and humanely remove opossums from your yard, but we’ve also been serving the Sacramento region for years.

If you’ve found an opossum in your Sacramento yard or these marsupials keep coming back, don’t wait and put yourself at risk. Contact us today at HomeShield Pest Control for eco-friendly, safe, and humane opossum removal.