Do Opossums Climb Trees? The Wildlife Answer Revealed

There are several dozens of species of opossum, which are commonly referred to as possums in North America. The opossum is a mammal belonging to the marsupial family. 

It is roughly the same size as a cat, although notable features of the animal include hairless ears and a long pointed nose. Moreover, it has a coarse coat of fur which varies from black to white

This marsupial animal has a pouch located on its stomach which is used over a period of time to grow its young. 

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Typically, these animals prefer to live on the ground, however, when in fear of danger; they have the tendency to climb up trees. 

Only during the night do these opossums go out and search for food – sleeping throughout the day under branches, in hollow trees, or in caves. 

When approached by predators, they have a survival instinct of playing dead (see also: Animals That Play Dead)and giving off a foul odor to scare away the enemy. 

Opossums eat anything from insects, grasshoppers, rodents, ants, snakes, and toads. 

With all this in mind, this article will explore everything you need to know about possums and their tree-climbing habits. 

Let’s get straight into it. 

So, Do Opossums Climb Trees?

They do! In fact, opossums are superb tree climbers. Besides primates, giant pandas, and koalas, the opossum is the only mammal to possess opposable ‘thumbs’ – or in the possum’s case, ‘big toes’ – known as the hallux which is great for climbing smooth surfaces, concrete walls, branches of the trees, etc.

Opossums can be found in Oceania, South America, and North America. Generally, they spend most of their days sleeping in abandoned burrows, trees, rock crevices, etc., and only come out once the sun sets in search of food. 

How Does The Opossum Climb Trees?

Opossums possess long, strong tails. Essentially, they use their tails as an extra hand. 

When climbing a tree, (see also: Animals That Climb Trees)the opossum will wrap its tail around a branch; securing itself, which frees up its other legs for other activities. 

What Trees Do Possums Like To Live In?

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Possums are not too fussy when it comes to different types of trees. As long as it contains a trunk with many strong branches to hang onto; the opossum (Also check out Do Opossums Hibernate?) will make it it’s home. 

That being said, possums are typically found in oat trees, this is simply due to the fact that this is the most common tree found in its natural habitat. 

How To Get A Possum Out Of A Tree (Or Yard)?

Similar to any other pest, the best way of removing them from your property is by making some changes so you are no longer attracting them. 

Below, we have outlined some steps to consider to encourage possums to leave your trees or yard, these include:

  • Ensure you have a secure lid on containers and garbage cans. 
  • Remove debris and vegetation from your yard to eliminate places for the opossums to hide. 
  • Make sure to close or block any entry points or holes located around your home. 
  • Don’t leave any pet food outside, keep it indoors. 
  • Block or close off any access points under the areas of your porch or home to prevent the opossums (see also: Do Opossums Bite?)from hiding here. 
  • Keep the trees around your home trimmed. Since they are skilled climbers, they can use the branches of trees to gain access to your roof. 

Where Do Possums Live During The Day?

Possums are very adaptable creatures. During the day, if they’re not sleeping, they will spend it walking and feeding. 

They possess biological characteristics that help them adapt to a particular environment they are living in, making them opportunists when it comes to feeding. If they find something within easy reach and it smells good; they will likely eat it. 

In fact, possums contain many other biological characteristics that help them adapt to a particular area. For instance, they are immune to pretty much all forms of snake venom. This allows them to eat water moccasins, rattlesnakes, and many other animals which would otherwise be lethal to humans. 

In addition to this, their favorite foods include plants, fruits, insects, rats, slugs, mice, snails, crayfish, frogs, and scavenges. 

Are Opossums Bad For Your Yard?

Opossums are very opportunistic animals – making them the perfect thieves. 

If you have a hole located in your attic, they may use it to gain access into your home and potentially cause havoc. 

Although, having said that, they will rarely claw or dig themselves into your home. They are more likely to claw and dig in your lawn looking for larvae and other insects hiding in the ground. 

So, while opossums may not be inherently bad for your yard, if you’re looking to avoid any mischief, then you may not want them to be able to enter.

What Attracts Opossums To Your Yard?

Similar to raccoons, food is a major objective for possums. Since they are both opportunistic and omnivorous, this means, if the opportunity presents itself, they will gladly eat both plant and animal(see also: Animals That Eat Plants) materials. 

The two creatures have become accustomed to ransacking human garbage cans in search of food. Although, clashes between raccoons and possums are very unlikely due to their food preferences as well as their eating schedules. 

Final Thoughts

Possums, adept in wildlife navigation, have impressive climbing abilities. The nocturnal nature of these animals drives them to climb various surfaces, such as trees, climb fences and walls.

This skill aids in seeking shelter, such as dens, nests, and even human-made structures like sheds and garages. Their opposable thumbs, similar to those of small animals like squirrels, enhance their grip, facilitating their climb.

Interestingly, Opossums’ climbing proficiency extends beyond mere shelter-seeking. It’s a strategic move for evading predators like hawks and owls. Furthermore, these critters, often mistaken for pests, play a crucial role in controlling tick populations. 

However, the necessity of opossum removal in urban settings has led to the use of deterrents like ammonia. Despite their hissing and scratching defenses, possums can climb to avoid conflict and seek refuge, highlighting their adaptability in various environments.

These animals are opportunistic and carnivorous, arguably two of the worst animal traits, since this makes them great thieves who tend to target human garbage cans. 

On top of this, they are excellent climbers, which helps them gain access to yards and homes, as well as avoid their predators. Hopefully, this guide has informed you on whether or not opossums can climb trees. 

Olivia Kepner