8 Scents That Opossums Hate (And How To Use Them) - Pest Pointers (2023)

There’s nothing worse than waking up to some backyard damage or your flower and vegetable garden completely destroyed! If it always seems to be when you’re asleep, and it seems to be happening every night –what could be going on?The truth of the matter is that you may have an opossum problem.

Opossums have a strong sense of smell that they use to locate food. You can use this to your advantage by deterring them with scents they dislike around areas they frequent, such as camphor, garlic, onion, hot peppers, molasses, wolf’s urine, ammonia, and pet fur.

If you have opossums getting into your outdoor belongings or have been noticing them coming around quite often – you may need to shield them away with some scents. Keep on reading because today we are talking about the scents that opossums hate and how to use them!

Just to add – when you shop using links from Pest Pointers, we may earn affiliate commissions if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

What Are Opossums?

Opossums are the onlyNorth American Marsupial– and they have a pouch that carries their babies like a kangaroo! Living the nocturnal lifestyle, possums are commonly seen at night, and although very cute up close, they may scare you if you weren’t expecting one!

Opossums don’t have a good reputationand are commonly put into the category of rats and raccoons. But the truth is – they are the furthest from it and not considered rodents at all.

Opossums are not the animals that will dive into garbage cans, but they will eat any fallen food that hits the ground.

Opossums, in some cases, can be good for your gardens because they love to eat insects, snails, slugs, and even small rodents. They will clean up fallen garbage and debris from fruits. Opossums also love to eat ticks up to 5,000 in a single season!

So why get rid of possums if they’re not doing any harm?Well, we’re getting to that.

8 Scents That Opossums Hate (And How To Use Them) - Pest Pointers (1)

Opossum or Possum – Is There A Difference?

I want to address one thing here, technically the terms possum and opossum are correct when referring to these marsupials – but the crazy thing is, although we use possum more in the United States, the American “possum” is actually an opossum –I know, confusing.

In Australia, “opossum” is actually a “possum.”It’s an entirely different species!

8 Scents That Opossums Hate (And How To Use Them) - Pest Pointers (2)

So, let’s break this down with some differences.

  1. Possums (Australia) have furry tails, while opossums (America) have bare tails – like a rat’s tail – like the one we see in the USA!
  2. The average possum weighs 5 pounds, where the average opossum weighs7 pounds.
  3. Opossums have a round face and round body with brown or golden fur, and opossums have gray to white coarse fur with a pointed face.
  4. Although both marsupials – possums are classified as Diprotodontia and opossums are classified as Didelphimorphia.
  5. Possums don’t play dead to predators, but opossums do.

Although there are more than 60 species of possums in the world, there is only one type of opossum found in the United States, and it’s called theVirginia Opossum.

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Why Are Opossums A Problem?

Opossums can become a problem if they stick around your home. Although opossums have a generally passive personality and aren’t always bad to have around – the problems start to occur when possums don’t leave.

Like any animal – opossums are driven by food. Once they have a safe place to stay, the eating begins. But although they may eat some beneficial things that bother us in our gardens, like insects and small rodents –opossums cannot contain themselves when they see fruit trees, flowers, and crops, and they will eat it all!

Opossums also are driven by the need for shelter and will den wherever it is dry and wherever there is a safe spot hidden from predators.

Opossums become a problem when they decide to den in your decks, sheds, crawl spaces, attics, or any other man-made structures. Opossums will also den where there is a lot of brush and bushes because the thick branches and leaves will help keep them dry and hidden away.

Another problem that possums cause is thatthey attract predator animalsthat may be more harmful to humans than the opossum itself. Some predators an opossum may attract include owls, hawks, coyotes, foxes, wolves, and bobcats.

So with all of this in mind, if you’re noticing the start of a possum problem, or maybe you already have one, it’s time to get ahead of the game by deterring and preventing them – and we’re going to tell you how!

8 Scents That Repel Opossums From Your Property

We love possums, and we don’t want to hurt them. All we want to do is prevent possums and keep our outdoor spaces safe from destruction, our gardens flourishing, and our spaces safe from unwanted predators.

To do so, some easy and effective ways to deter possums is by using the scents they hate. With any scent deterrent, be sure to reapply the scent often to keep the smell strong and effective.

Now, just adding, all of the scents we’re discussing will repel BOTH opossums and possums. So no matter where you’re reading, you’re covered!

Camphor Keeps Opossums Away

Camphor, commonly used in vapor rubs, oils, and lotions, is a scent that is hated by opossums. An oil that is extracted from the wood of the camphor trees is used topically as a healing agent.

Although with benefits to humans, the strong methol scent of camphor is widely hated by the possum population and can be used in a paste form on the trunks of trees, roof shingles, and on pavers and blocks to create barriers to deter possums. Camphor overpowers an opossum’s senses and doesn’t signal a food source, leading to them staying away.

To make the paste, mix a few drops of camphor oil such asSVA Organics Camphor Essential Oilwith plenty of petroleum jelly and use it to make a shield around the spots that the possums are getting into.Don’t use this paste near crops or gardens.

Opossums Hate Garlic

One of the most loved ingredients to humans is one of the most hated scents by possums. Garlic has such a strong scent that it scares away possums. They will not den near a garlic scent either since they will feel unsafe with the smell.

Using garlic to keep away opossums is an easy addition to any garden. Planting garlic cloves in your garden may be enough to keep opossums from eating your vegetables and flowers. It’s best to use garlic oil to repel opossums as the scent will be stronger and, thus, more effective.

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Another way to use garlic would be to mix bits of garlic or minced garlic in water and spray the garlic water mix around your garden, outdoor spaces, and fruit trees. If this doesn’t seem to help, placing minced garlic on small plates in your gardens can do the trick.

Onion Deters Opossums

Another ingredient we love – onions – is hated by opossums. Onions, along with garlic, have such strong scents that it overwhelms a possum’s senses and leaves a bad taste in their mouths.

More so for the taste, onions will deter possums if they’re growing in a garden. With a smell that almost burns the senses, opossums tend to stay away from onions. If you mix garlic and onions together, this creates a double deterrent effect that will be more effective in repelling opossums.

To use onions to deter possums, peel an onion, slice it up, and add slices around your garden and the plants that need the most security. Opossums may try to taste the onion at first, but as soon as they do, they’re sure to get a surprise and not try that again!

Opossums Dislike Hot Peppers And Hot Sauce

Another smell that can burn the senses is hot peppers and hot sauce. These foods are hated by possumseverywhere. Not only are the smells overpowering and will send a possum’s senses in disarray, but the taste is also too spicy for our little marsupials.

Using hot peppers, hot sauce, or even cayenne pepper can be an easy way to deter and prevent possums. The capsaicin in hot peppers irritates the sinus of an opossum when they directly smell it and thus, keeps them away.

You can make a spray with hot sauce, dish soap ( to last longer), and water. You can spray thisspicy spraydirectly onto plants and into your garden, around the perimeter of crawl spaces, attics, underneath decks, etc., to keep possums away.

8 Scents That Opossums Hate (And How To Use Them) - Pest Pointers (3)

Opossums Hate Molasses

That sweet-smelling, sweet-tasting molasses is hated by possums. Arguably maybe the easiest and quickest way to deter possums, molasses is something we all have in our pantries and can be used – right now.

Grabbing molasses or any syrup in your pantry, mixing it with water until it dissolves, and then spraying it onto plants and garden spaces is an easy way to deter those uninvited possums.

Adding a detergent or dish soap into the mix will help make a thicker spray and will allow the scent to linger for a little longer.

Fox Urine Keeps Opossums Away

I know –how are you getting this?Well, you can easily buy fox urine online to help get rid of opossums – likeAmerican Heritage Industries 16 oz Red Fox Urine.

Fox urine works wonders in getting rid of and preventing possums from entering your backyards. Spraying the fox’s urine spray around the perimeter of your home will deter possums altogether because foxes are predators to the opossums.

Why this works so well is because predators mark their territory with their urine. And, if you happen to spray the urine around your outdoor spacesand far enough away from your house,it will act as almost a complete shield from any unwanted visitors.

Using fox urine may attract foxes to your yard, so if you have a chicken coop or small pets, just be wary before trying this method.

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Ammonia Keeps Opossums Away

There is no arguing here – we all hate the smell of ammonia. In fact, no one should ever be close enough to the scent to breathe in the fumes of it, and if you are using it, ammonia should always be handled with extreme caution.

However, if you are having a really bad possum problem – ammonia is known as one of the foolproof ways to prevent possums. Mixing ammonia with water, following all product directions, and generously spraying ammonia around garbage cans, sheds, under decks, and crawl spaces can work quickly and effectively in deterring possums.

However – do not spray ammonia on gardens, crops, trees, or anywhere where you have pets or common areas, as it could be hazardous.

Please, consult a professional before this one.

Pet Fur Keeps Opossums Away

Much like fox’s urine, pet fur works to get rid of possums by establishing a predator territory. Although you may think a dog or a cat isn’t thetypical possum predator, any scent of any animal can be enough to keep opossums away.

Opossums only stay where they feel safe, and if there is pet fur present – they most likely will feel threatened due to another species in the area.

To add pet fur to your outdoor spaces, collect the hair that your pet has shed, or use the hair that is in the brush after you brush your pet and place it around the perimeter of your outdoor spaces.Pet fur will keep possums and other pests away.

Facts About The Virginia Opossum

Virginia Opossums are the only marsupial in the United States, and although commonly confused with raccoons or rats – the Virginia Opposum is far from that.

Virginia Opossums Are Nocturnal

Opossums are nocturnal, which means they will be up all night long!This is when they can cause the most damage, and if you happen to have them in your attic or on your roof – they can keep you up all night because they will be moving around – a lot!

Opossums Are Scavengers

Opossums are scavengers and will always be looking for food.Whether it’s scraps from the garbage, or the fruits on your fruit trees, or crops from your garden, opossums will get their hands into all types of food.

Virginia Opossums Play Dead As Defense From Predators

Unlike their Australian relatives,the American opossum actually plays dead from predators.Opossums will stay still, will not blink, and will let their tongues hang out to mimic a dead possum. Generally, animals won’t bother with another dead animal and will keep on moving.

They Don’t Hibernate

Believe it or not,opossums do not hibernateand are out and about during the colder months. But rather than always scavenging, possums will remain in their dens for longer periods.

This is the time of year when you find opossums under your decks or in your attics because they will find warmth in those spots and will hang out for a few days at a time until they have to leave to get more food.

Other Ways To Get Rid Of Opossums

Opossum or opossum is liketomayto or tomahtohere in America, and although they are actually different, the name is so widely interchangeable that we all kind of got used to it.But either way, if you have a possum or opossum problem and scents are not working, there are some other things you can try.

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Remove Food Sources

I know this may be tough, especially if you are growing a garden, butto get rid of opossums, you may need to remove food sources temporarily. Whether it’s by planting your vegetables in a pot or planter box and bringing them indoors or removing the garden for a season – it can be a temporary inconvenience butcan solve a big possum problem.

Along with this, keeping your garbage cans tidy can make a huge difference.Securing the lids of the garbage cans down and making sure that all food scraps are in a plastic garbage bag secured in the trash can will help as the smells will be secured, and it won’t attract any possums or other animals.

Scare Opossums with Lights

Being that possums are nocturnal, bright lights will scare them away.Opossums are used to being in the dark; being in light will make them feel unsafe as predators can see them and will actually confuse a possum itself.

Purchasing motion lights or animal deterrent lights like theseThanos Nighttime Animal Deterrent Lightswill scare nocturnal animals away.

Remove Debris in Yard

It can be as simple as a bucket that’s been outside too long, woodpiles, wheel barrels upside down, or any type of debris that makes for a dry, sheltered space. These can all become a forever home for a possum.

Making sure the debris from outdoor projects or indoor projects is cleaned up and placed upright in a position that nothing can get underneath it – is the first step in making sure that possums don’t move into your outdoor spaces.

Coyote Decoy

We’ve all seen them around school buildings or in areas with any type of business where land is plentiful;coyote decoys or fox decoys help keep opossums and other pests away.

The whole idea that is associated with these decoys is that they represent predators, and possums that nest and live amongst people for food will stay away from any potential threat.

Opossums like to feel safe, and if they see a coyote, even if it’s fake, they will do a quick180– and get out of there! Much like the pet fur, or the wolf’s urine, the decoy presents an actual animal, and it will be hard for a possum to tell if it’s real or not since it won’t get close enough!

That’s A Wrap!

Although opossums aren’t harmful directly, they can cause destruction to your outdoor spaces and can take over areas by nesting. Besides that, opossums attract other animals, and if you can avoid having a possum situation at all – it’s best to prevent them.

To recap, the 8 scents you can use to repel opossums include:

  • Camphor
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Hot Peppers
  • Molasses
  • Wolf’s Urine
  • Ammonia
  • Pet Fur

If you are ever unsure about a possum or find it too much to handle, get help from a professional! Ournationwide pest control findercan get you in contact with a wildlife pro near you.

Remember, possums aren’t out to ruin your day. In fact, they do a lot of good by eating pest insects like ticks and aphids. When you want them out of your yard, consider using your new arsenal of scents and smells to repel them!


Fidino, M. A., Lehrer, E. W., & Magle, S. B. (2016). Habitat Dynamics of the Virginia Opossum in a Highly Urban Landscape. The American Midland Naturalist, 175(2), 155-167.

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Krause, W. J., & Krause, W. A. (2006). The Opossum: Its Amazing Story. William Krause

Ladine, T. A., & Kissell, Jr, R. E. (1994, October). Escape Behavior of Virginia Opossums. The American Midland Naturalist, 132(2), 234-238.


What smell do possums hate the most? ›

Possums respond negatively to noxious odors. They abhor the smell of ammonia, garlic, and napthalene (chemical found in moth balls). They are also afraid of lights at night, and don't like to be wet.

What scent keeps possums away? ›

Ammonia and garlic are scents that possums tend to flee from. If using ammonia, pour a small amount of ammonia into a coffee can with a lid. Place a rag inside the ammonia and bring one end up through a hole cut into the lid. The rag will act as a wick to disperse the fumes.

Do possums like the smell of vinegar? ›

Vinegar's active ingredient is Acetic acid and it produces a smell that possums do not like. Sprinkling some drops of vinegar in strategic locations can repel them. Be careful not to use vinegar on your plants as it can damage or kill them.

What home remedy will get rid of possums? ›

Natural Methods for Repelling Possums
  1. Pet Fur – Opossums will avoid suspected predators, including a dog or cat. ...
  2. Ammonia – Fill a jar with a bit of ammonia and cut a hole in the jar's lid. ...
  3. Garlic – The scent and taste of garlic is sometimes successful in repelling opossums.

Will pepper spray work on a possum? ›

Animals that have a keen sense of smell will be unable to handle the intense pepper smell and leave the property. Keep up the spraying every other night until you are certain the opossum(s) is gone. You can also sprinkle black pepper or red cayenne pepper.

Is there a spray to get rid of possums? ›

Yates Possum Repellent Spray helps protect your precious plants by deterring possums from feeding on sprayed plants. The special combination of ingredients deters possums for up to 7 days and can be used on ornamental and edible plants with only a 1 day withholding period.

What is the best possum deterrent? ›

Possum repellent study

Products tested included: garlic spray Tabasco sauce® hot English mustard Indonesian fish sauce White King® camphor naphthalene flakes quassia chips Blood and Bone Keep Off® Stay Off® D-Ter® Scat® Bitrex®.

Will Clorox keep possums away? ›

Because of its odor, bleach is a great way to ensure possums keep their distance. Experts recommend mixing one part bleach with 10 parts water to make a spray. Spray it in strategic areas around the house or yard to repel possums.

How do you stop possums from coming back? ›

Possums are repelled by the stench of garlic, ammonia and mothballs. So go ahead and scatter those around where you think possums might hang out. Garlic works best when it's crushed.

Does Vicks VapoRub deter possums? ›

Vicks can be used for a home-made remedy. Mix equal quantities of Vaseline and Vicks VapoRub on a plastic container. Use a knife to spread the mixture along any known possum routes eg along fences. Spotlights trained onto trees can often be effective in reducing possum attacks.

What sounds scare possums? ›

Get motion-activated lights or sprinklers

Sudden lights or water will scare the possums away and stop them from coming back.

Do possums like the smell of mothballs? ›

If you are trying to figure out how to get rid of possums, know that they are attracted to many smells you find distasteful, there are some nasty smells that even they hate. These include ammonia and mothballs.

Do possums like cinnamon? ›

What Smells Attract Possums? There are some smells that opossums find very inviting. They often get attracted to cinnamon scents, so if you have such scents lingering in your yard, be ready to receive these animals to your property.

How do you poison possums? ›

Small mammals including possums and bandicoots often consume poisons such as snail bait, or rat bait that has been laid out to attract and kill rats, mice, and rabbits. Poisons such as pindone are often added to oats or carrots, and lead to a slow, painful death of internal bleeding.

What can I use to poison a possum? ›

Cyanide poison provides an effective means of controlling possums whilst minimising the potential risk to the environment, birds and other non- target species.

Will Epsom salt get rid of possums? ›

Keep your lawn grub-free and you will prevent raccoons, skunks and opossums from tearing up your lawn to feast on them. Sprinkle plants with epsom salts or cayenne pepper to deter wildlife from feasting on them.

How do you get a possum to move? ›

Most often, the opossum is frightened and will hold its ground and defend itself. Simply walk away and keep children and pets away. (Of course, you should make sure the opossum has not bitten any pet or person; if it has, contact your health department.) The opossum will move on when it feels safe.

How do you Deflea a possum? ›

We start by bathing them regularly using Dawn liquid and using the shower head to wash the fleas off, spray with critter oil after the bath, and treat the bedding with diatomaceous earth.

Does apple cider vinegar get rid of possums? ›

Fencing in or clearing out areas in which opossums can hide will eliminate many problems with these animals. If you know where they are hiding near your house, you can also place some rags soaked in apple cider vinegar near the area you see them- they dislike strong odors.

What smells do raccoons and possums hate? ›

Since raccoons have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find convenient food sources, one can take advantage of this feature by using scents they hate. Hot pepper, garlic, peppermint oil, onion, and Epsom salt are a few scents used to repel raccoons.

What is the natural predator of a possum? ›

Main predators include dogs, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, large hawks, and great horned owls. The chance of rabies in opossums is extremely rare.

What smells attract possums? ›

In most cases, these animals get attracted by odorous and overflowing garbage cans, any containers left outdoors, or uncovered compost heaps. Since opossums are scavengers, they can feed on anything they find. They like moist areas, that is why they prefer inhabiting near water areas.

Do wind chimes keep possums away? ›

Hang Wind Chimes or Place A Radio Outside

Unusual noises will scare opossums off, especially when they're unsure of the source. Hanging wind chimes or placing a radio outside both work well for keeping opossums out of your yard.

Do lights keep possums away? ›

Light. Possums like to operate under the cover of darkness, so anything that you can put in your garden that mimics the reflective eyes of a potential predator or lights up when they enter the garden should help scare them off.

What time of night do possums come out? ›

Opossums are awake and grooming between 6:00 PM and 8:00 AM, with most types of other activities occurring between 10:00 PM and 8:00 AM. The opossums spend the rest of the day, 8:00 AM through 6:00 PM, resting or sleeping.

What time do possums go out at night? ›

Fact 4: Behaviour. Possums are nocturnal and mainly feed between dusk and dawn. Brushtail Possums are generally lone creatures, choosing a company when they want to breed.

Does Irish Spring keep possums away? ›

The Stricklands used Irish Spring soap as a deterrent to keep critters away but apparently possums like the flavored soap.

What frequency gets rid of possums? ›

Possum Deterrent frequencies are effective against various animals without harming them: Possums: Repels Brushtail and Ringtail Possums using low frequency sounds between 15 and 19 Khz. This normally does not bother Dogs.

What frequency do possums hate? ›

The University of Queensland researcher recently used a unit sold to deter possums with a claimed effective range of 9 metres over a 90-degree arc. This particular device claims to issue pulses over changing frequencies between 16 and 30 kHz.

Will ammonia get rid of possums? ›

To keep raccoons, possums, skunks, or other critters out of your garbage, regularly spray the side of your cans with a mixture of half ammonia, and half water. They hate the smell (as we all do) and will stay away. (You can also try using an ammonia-based glass cleaner like Windex, but it's not as strong.)

What is a possums favorite food? ›

Opossums eat insects, snails and slugs. Opossums are also partial to overripe, fallen fruit on the ground. Opossums aren't the only animals that will be attracted to your food source, other nocturnal animals will become familiar with the goodies to be found at your place.

What is the best possum trap bait? ›

Make sure you use appropriate bait such as fruit, berries, vegetables, peanut butter which will attract the possum into the cage. An apple cut in half is a great lure for possums. Place the lure at the end of the trap so that the possum has to walk all the way in and step of the foot plate.

What plant do possums hate? ›

Plants to deter possums

Plants that aren't touched in my garden include acanthus, agapanthus, box and lavender.

Does vinegar keep opossums away? ›

Fencing in or clearing out areas in which opossums can hide will eliminate many problems with these animals. If you know where they are hiding near your house, you can also place some rags soaked in apple cider vinegar near the area you see them- they dislike strong odors.

Do possums like the smell of bleach? ›

Mothballs and bleach effectively deter possums because of their unpleasant smells. Mothballs and bleach both effectively scare away possums. The reason these repellants work is simple: possums can't stand the smell. Their sense of smell is extremely keen, keener than any of their other senses.

How do you get rid of possums fast? ›

5 Ways to Get Rid of Possums
  1. Secure Trash and Compost Bins. Because opossums are nothing if not opportunistic eaters, they're more than happy to dumpster dive for a meal. ...
  2. Put Away Pet Food Nightly. ...
  3. Remove Brush and Trim Bushes. ...
  4. Cover Openings Around Your Home. ...
  5. Build a Garden Fence.
Nov 16, 2022

Will mothballs keep possums away? ›

Mothballs, designed to keep moths from chewing fabric that has been stored away, are also unappealing to possums. Fragrant mothballs or naphthalene crystals are best for encouraging possums to evacuate an enclosed area, such as underneath a porch or in a crawlspace.

Does Pine Sol keep raccoons away? ›

Homemade Raccoon Repellents that can be used

Ammonia - It can be applied or soaked onto pieces of cloth or even kept in small opened bottles. The soaked pieces of cloth can be placed around the house, such as near food sources or around garbage cans and bins. Pine Sol can also be used in place of ammonia.

What does Epsom salt do to raccoons? ›

Continuing in the vein of undesirable scents, Epsom salt is another ingredient that keeps raccoons away. For the most effective protection, sprinkle Epsom salt both inside and surrounding your vegetable garden. Racoons will generally keep a safe distance from that smell, avoiding your garden and coops.

What attracts possums to your house? ›

If it is a dark place, the nocturnal opossum might be interested in it. Pet Food And Water: If you leave pet food and water outside, it could attract opossums. They are especially attracted to cat food. If you notice that your animal's full food bowl is empty in the morning, you may have opossums.


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