How to Catch an Opossum with a Live Trap

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How to Catch an Opossum with a Live Trap

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Keith's Pro Tips

"Don't forget that opossum's play dead to confuse predators. So if you caught an opossum in a live trap, be sure to relocate it far from your property as it's likely still alive."

How to Catch an Opossum with a Live Trap

An opossum is a nocturnal animal. These animals may destroy your property and invade your trash cans, or even your house in search for food. One method of removing an opossum from your property is using a live trap to catch and release the animal. Live trapping is a safe and effective way to keep animals away from your home.

If you want to catch an opossum with a live trap, read this guide for instructions and product recommendations.


Before using a live trap, you need to make sure that the wild animal you are dealing with is an opossum. This will ensure that you are using the correct bait and strategies.

Opossum on White Background

Possums are generally 20 to 36 inches long. They have gray fur and a white face with a long, hairless tail. They normally weigh between 4 and 15 pounds and are intelligent animals. An opossum will "play dead" when they are threatened. The animal will look - and even smell - like they are dead. They will not move, their mouths will be open, and their anal glands will secrete an odor. This is a defense mechanism that should last between a few minutes to a few hours.

An opossum is a scavenger and mainly feeds on carcasses and plants, but they are adaptable and will also consume small animals, insects, and sweet foods. Take caution when approaching or handling this animal. They are great climbers and are able to swim.

Use the image and description above to confirm that you are dealing with an opossum on your property.


Once you've confirmed that your pest animal is an opossum, it is helpful to recognize the areas where it is most active. This is where you will place your live trap.

Where to Inspect

You want to pick areas that have high activity from possums. These animals are most likely searching your property for food. Areas where trash is stored, as well as any vegetation will most likely be spots where possums are most active. If your property is near a wooded area or a body of water, an opossum might be near these areas as well. Since possums do not build their own dens, they will make a home in places like hollow logs, attics, and piles of wood. These are significant areas to check.

What to Look For

Because possums are nocturnal animals, any damage will be done at night. There are certain signs that signal opossum activity, such as trash cans that are pushed over, damaged insulation, and tracks. These tracks will have five fingers, with an opposable hind thumb. If possums are trying to enter your home, you might see damaged insulation in the attic.


Now that you have identified your pest animal as a possum and taken note of areas where it is most active, you can use your live trap. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the trap to prevent leaving your scent. If a possum picks up a human scent on the trap, it will avoid the trap, which will make it ineffective.

Step 1 - Remove Food Sources

You want the possum to enter the live trap with the help of bait. Because of this, competing food sources need to be removed. Keep your trash sealed in trash bags and stored in trash bins with a lid to keep it closed. Any pet food or bowls of water should be placed inside as soon as possible as well.

Step 2 - Place the Trap

By now, you should have taken note of areas with high possum activity. These areas are where you will put your trap. Be sure to place your trap on an even surface. An opossum might push or knock over the trap in order to reach the bait inside. Place a brick or weight on top of the trap to avoid this.

Step 3 - Bait and Set the Trap

Trap Trigger

Using the proper bait will increase your chances of catching an opossum. These animals prefer sweet foods such as a honeybun with the wrapper open, or half of a mashed banana. The bait should be placed near the back of the trap. This ensures that the possum will need to step on the trigger plate in order to reach the food.

You will then set your trap by pushing on the door lock and lifting the door plate. Keep the door plate lifted while pulling the trigger arm forward to set it. You will know it is set when the trigger arm's hook catches the door. 

Step 4 - Monitor the Trap


You will need to check the traps twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening. This is when you will refill bait if needed. Checking the trap frequently may dissuade possums from approaching the trap. Do not keep an animal trapped in the cage for longer than 24 hours.

Step 5 - Relocate the Opossum

Any non-target animals should be released immediately. Once you have captured an opossum in your live trap, check your local authorities to make sure you are correctly relocating the animal. Approach the trap slowly and use a gentle voice. Place a towel over the cage to avoid frightening the possum. Once you have relocated far enough, carefully open the trap and release the animal. You can read more about releasing an animal from a live trap here.


After using your live trap, you want to make sure that wild animals do not invade your property again. You can take some preventative measures to keep your area free of possums.



Keeping trash out is an open invitation for an opossum. Be sure to place all waste in a trash can, preferably with a lid so it can be kept closed. Remove all clutter and debris from your property, since possums may be drawn to nest and burrow in these areas. Any potential food or water sources, especially pet food, should be properly sealed in a container and stored indoors. Trim tree branches that are near your roof to prevent possums from entering the attic.


Copper Mesh

If your property has a chicken coop, consider putting fencing around it or actively keeping live traps there. Possums will consume both chickens and their eggs.

To avoid possums from entering your home, be sure to check the foundation for cracks and crevices. These can be sealed with Stuf-Fit Copper Mesh and caulk. Stuf-Fit is a breathable material that many animals cannot chew through. It will not rust and can be stuffed into cracks and crevices before sealing with caulk. Repair any voids or openings around the home or structure, such as damaged fences.

Key Takeaways

  • Opossums are nocturnal animals. They have gray fur, a white face, and a long hairless tail. 
  • Bait the live trap with a sweet treat like a honeybun with an open wrapper, or half of a slightly mashed banana. Make sure the bait is placed behind the trigger plate of the trap. 
  • Check the trap once in the morning and once in the evening. Once an opossum is caught, check with your local authorities to make sure you safely and correctly release it.
  • Prevent possums from entering your property again by removing any potential food sources and trash, as well as sealing any cracks and crevices with Stuf-Fit Copper Mesh and caulk.
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