Res. Salmon, D.A. In its foraging, the nocturnal opossum is a true omnivore, feeding on fruits, nuts, green plants, insects, snails, snakes, frogs, birds and their eggs, and small mammals such as meadow voles, mice, and rats. The odor of mothballs, naphthalene crystals, or household ammonia has been used as a home remedy repellent. (4 to 6 kilograms), according to National Geographic. with moderately long fur that ranges in color from white to dark gray. Opossums are about 2 to 3 feet long, including the tail, and weigh up to 15 pounds, although most fall within the 4 to 7 pound range. The aim of habitat modification is to make your premises less appealing to the opossum. Drowning is illegal in California as a form of euthanasia. The opossum is not native to California but was introduced in San Jose in 1910 from the east coast of the United States and has now become well estab-lished throughout much of the state. They have complex but flexible social relationships, with overlapping home ranges that allow high populations to develop when food is plentiful. While their natural habitats are diverse, ranging from arid to moist and wooded to open fields, opossums prefer environments near streams or wetlands. Only opossums that are sick, injured, or too young to be on their own (less than 7 inches long from nose to rump, not including tail) are in need of immediate asssistance. All contents copyright © If the animal has established the habit of visiting the yard or garden, such frightening responses rarely last for more than a few days. A cattle-type electric fence charger activates the wire. Revised based on a previous version authored by T.P. These chemicals may also build up toxicity in the soil thereby posing an additional threat. All of the toes have a claw except for the opposable thumb on the rear foot. Accessibility   There are typically two mating seasons for opossums in California: January through February, and June through July. Size of a cat; grey to black fur; black eyes; pink nose, feet and tail; black ears; and pointed nose. The fur is frequently darker on the legs and lighter on the back. PDF reader. Traps should be at least 10 x 12 x 32 inches in size and set along trails or known routes of travel. The opossum is not native to California but was introduced in San Jose in 1910 from the east coast of the United States and has now become well established throughout much of the state. Since opossums are messy feeders, you may find remnants of the previous night's foraging and feeding. A greater effect is observed on animals that have not habituated to the site. They may reach 15 pounds and males are typically larger than the females. Opossums that live near people may visit vegetable gardens, compost piles, garbage cans, or food dishes intended for dogs or cats. Opossums are well adapted to climb trees. Baldwin, R. A. The penalty for such pesticide misuse can be substantial, and the practice usually becomes known as a result of the accidental poisoning of someone’s pet. READERS ARE WELCOME TO COPY OUR LITERATURE FOR THEIR INDIVIDUAL USE, BUT MAY NOT SELL IT OR PUBLISH IT. Publ. If you find opossums threatening growing crops or other property of which you are the owner or tenant, you may control the opossum using any legal means. Calif. Publ. Details on carbon dioxide euthanasia are available online from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Cornell University (see References). People often mistake the open-mouth hissing and drooling behavior of opossums as a sign of rabies. It’s a violation of California law for any wildlife to be kept as pets. Scavenger Behavior. The nest components appear piled together rather than woven or stacked. Opossums are rodents that in size resemble smaller dogs-they are approximately 2.5 feet long from nose to tail and can weight from 8.5 to 13.5 pounds. Pet and opossum confrontations are relatively common and the pets are often injured. Males will turn and get aggressive and make nasty housemates. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. Address: P.O. However, it is not that much different than many others in terms of the size in which it reaches. Univ. Mortality in the young is high; most will perish before they are a year old. This flea infestation on opossums is particularly concerning for transmission of flea-borne typhus, which is increasing in prevalence in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. Facts about possums often include claims that they are disease-carrying dangerous creatures. A. Chapman, editors. Opossums are highly adaptable and are great survivors. Reynolds, H. C. 1952. Staff-only pages The Opossum is a mammal about the size of a house cat. Few opossums live beyond 3 years. Box 16724 Irvine, California 92623 Phone: 714-536-3538 Opossums have a top running speed of only 7 miles per hour, so they have developed strategies to escape enemies. THEY’RE CONSTANTLY SELF-GROOMING. IDENTIFICATION An opossum is about the size of a house cat, has coarse grayish fur, a pointed face, and hairless, rounded ears (Figure 1). An Anaheim case that required a $400,000 payout to end a wrongful arrest lawsuit hinged on the fact that opossums have no special protection as wildlife in California.. This is something important when considering opossums as pets. The second litter will be sufficiently grown to leave the mother by fall. The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 110 or more species in 19 genera. The California Fish and Game Code classifies opossums as nongame mammals. In urban and suburban settings they may den under steps, porches, decks, garden tool sheds, and if accessible, in attics, garages, and beneath houses, where they make an untidy nest of sticks and whatever else may be available. Examine the tracking patch soon after dark; the presence of footprints will indicate the animal has left and the opening can then be closed off. However, be aware that spotlighting is not allowed during the deer hunting season. Opossums are hosts for cat and dog fleas, especially in urban environments. There are many things about the opossum that make it kind of unusual in comparison to many animals. They measure 13–37 in long from their snout to the base of the tail, with the tail adding another 8.5–19 in. 21385. Calif. Agric. Rabies. 2nd ed. Weight for males ranges from 1.7 to 14 lb and for females from 11 ounces to 8.2 lb. Early action may be warranted to avoid such a problem. Since the top of the fence is not rigid and bends under the weight of the animal, it cannot be climbed over. The young are weaned at approximately 3 months of age and are on their own at 4 1/2 – 5 months when they are approximately 7-9 inches long from nose to rump, excluding the tail. The Virginia opossum is the only member of the genus that stores body fat, and older males may exceed 6 kg (13.2 pounds) in the fall of the year. Those that survive will breed the following spring. Publ. Gestation is 12.5-13 days. There is usually piles of poo just lying around and it won’t be difficult to tell that it’s possum poop. Litter size in California averaged 7.2 (Reynolds 1952). Since it is illegal to relocate an opossum without a permit, those not wanting to deal with its disposal may prefer to hire a professional wildlife control operator. Some never even make it as far as the pouch. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Cornell University. “Playing possum” is another characteristic reaction; the animal rolls over on its side, becomes limp, shuts its eyes, and lets its tongue hang from an open mouth. Res. Sometimes strange-looking droppings (scat) may be found on garden paths, walkways, and patios, though typically opossums defecate in protected and leafy areas. Be very quiet and listen for “sneezing” sounds the young make to call the mother. If the trapper is willing to dispatch the animal, shooting and the use of a carbon dioxide gas chamber are the only acceptable forms of euthanasia. All of the toes have a claw except for … However, the use of these products in this manner is not legal, nor are they recommended, given the potential for these fumes to enter buildings. Litters are produced in two peak periods: January-March and May-July. They may chew on electrical wiring, and tear at heating ducts, screened openings to attics and crawl spaces, and chew and claw at overhanging roof lines or decks to gain entrance. There may be more. Identification of possum poop. Of this number, 40-50 are adults, while the remainder are orphans. The opposable toe on the hind foot assists in holding on to small branches or similar structures. Opossums were first introduced to California in San Jose in 1910. Barking dogs and disappearing pet food left out overnight may be the first apparent clues. The heartbeat slows and the animal appears to be dead. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. The young are weaned at about 14 weeks, at which time they are about 9 inches long, not including the tail. More electric fence details are provided in Pest Notes: Raccoons. Oakland: Univ. Fortunately, they are not aggressive unless cornered, when they may hiss, growl, and show their teeth. Ultimately, however, it's your own choice to keep or not to keep. Managing Opossum Problems The opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a house cat sized mammal (4 -14 Ibs.) Pet food placed outdoors should be removed by nightfall. They are marsupials with prehensile tails, making them very good climbers. Best Practices for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators. They readily enter burrows and climb trees in an attempt to elude danger. Gardner, A. L. and M. E. Sunquist. Whisson and R.E. California Wildlife Center admits an average of 250 opossums yearly. Opossums are not wary of traps and can easily be caught with a box- or cage-type live-catch trap. Author: Roger A. Baldwin, Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, UC Davis. Possum poop looks like that of your pet dog’s poop, a medium-sized dog, maybe. Nondiscrimination Statement. A possum usually excretes in the same place where it has been feeding. Their unspecialized biology, flexible diet, and reproductive habits make them successful colonizers and survivors in diverse locations and conditions. Be sure firewood is stacked tightly, leaving no major gaps suitable for a den. Store scrap lumber and other items in an orderly manner, preferably about 18 inches off the ground. Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources * Network and share knowledge and experiences with fellow wildlife rehabilitators and others in the wildlife health field. Eastern Immigrant. Disease is also an issue, as NO vets will treat these animals for ANYTHING. Their feet resemble small hands with five widely spread fingers. The largest of opossums are about the size of an average domestic cat. Opossums originated in South America and entered North America in the Great American Interchange following the connection of the two continents. COPYRIGHT VIOLATIONS WILL NO LONGER BE TOLERATED. Continually remove any fallen fruit, which will be readily fed upon by opossums. As with skunks and raccoons, the best solution to an opossum’s presence beneath stairs, porches, decks, or buildings is to screen or block access to the area. They live in South and North America and they are omnivorous animals which mean that they will eat almost anything: fruit, vegetables, meat, insects, eggs, plants and grains. They have long snouts and small, sharp teeth. The size of a house cat, males average about 3 kg (6.6 pounds), females about 2 kg (4.4 pounds). Trapping is a popular method. The resultant two litters yield an average of about 7 young each. Oakland: Univ. After a short 13-day gestation period, the tiny, hairless young are born. UC IPM Home > In rural areas where it is legal and safe to do so, opossums may be spotlighted at night and shot during much of the year. There are over 100 different opossum species, ranging in size from the pocket-sized pygmy opossum to the domestic cat-sized Virginia opossum. The Regents of the University of California. pp 3–29. Their feet resemble small hands with five widely spread fingers. It IS illegal to own them in almost all states. Live-trapping presents the problem of dealing with the animal once captured. Marsupials are distinguished by their abdominal pouch used for carrying their young. Female opossums reach puberty at six to eight months and bear their young after a 12-day gestation period. A fairly easy way to make this determination is to sprinkle a smooth layer of flour about 1/8–inch thick just in front of the point of entrance to form a tracking patch, in which the animal’s footprints will be evident. They are equipped to handle problem wildlife in a legal and humane manner. PDF: To display a PDF document, you may need to use a Pest Notes: Raccoons. However, this is just a bluffing behavior that opossums use as a defense mechanism. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance. Despite being a rather simple-minded animal, opossums are a very successful species. The opossum is a marsupial of the order Didelphimorphia (/daɪˌdɛlfɪˈmɔːrfiə/) endemic to the Americas. 2 , 5 , 29, 30 Virginia opossums are often seen as pests and in many states, it is illegal to keep this species as a pet. Contact webmaster. 2006. Marsh. Although opossums are not native to California (they were introduced from the East coast in 1910), they have become established in most urban and suburban areas. Other baits can include overripe fruit such as grapes, bananas, or melons. 52:223–284. Once an opossum has taken up residence beneath a building or deck, you have to be sure the animal has left before blocking the opening. Young opossums are sometimes seen riding on their mother's back. California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations prohibit the relocation of wildlife without written permission from the department. 2003. Reproduction: In California, the Virginia opossum mates in January-February and June-July. Normally opossums live alone except when with young and then, since the young remain in the pouch, they leave with the mother. Well, you’ve probably met with one of our most common residents: Didelphus virginiana, the Virginia opossum. The species is polyestrous, with an estrous cycle of 22-38 days. At approximately 11 weeks of age they can leave the pouch for short periods. Litter size averages about eight or nine, and one or two litters are born each year. There is documented evidence the Virginia opossum was first introduced in San Jose, California in 1910, by a New England immigrant. Opossums have large canines and small incisors. Check to make sure there are no municipal or county restrictions pertaining to the removal of opossums prior to taking any action. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Best Practices for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators, © 2019 Regents of the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Shooting is the simplest approach, but firearm discharge is not allowable in most residential areas. Having lost much of their natural fear of people, they will even enter a home through a pet door in search of food. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Opossum are usually not aggressive, so you may be able to help them on their way by gently nudging them with a broom. Opossums Are Incredibly Agile. The scat is difficult to describe as the omnivorous eating habits of the animal preclude an average size, shape, or texture. 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