Do Opossums Hibernate in Winter?

By Chris Williams on September 30, 2015.

What do opossums do in the winter? Do they migrate or hibernate? I’m asking because we seem to have one living in our yard somewhere, we see it almost every evening. We were thinking about having someone trap it but I thought maybe it would move on when the weather gets cold.

N.S., Meredith, NH

That opossum may move out of your yard for the winter. On the other hand, it may settle in for the duration. It’s probably not actually denning in your yard since opossums don’t really have any one den site. They move around a lot over a wide area and tend to spend most nights in different places. That’s why it’s surprising that you are seeing it every day. You may actually be seeing more than one opossum.


Opossums Don’t Have Just One Den

Opossums will den in a range of sites: under sheds or outbuildings, under decks or porches, in hollow logs or brush piles, in old squirrel nests, and even in woodchuck, skunk, or rabbit burrows (while their host is present!). During the coldest parts of winter, opossums may settle into just one preferred den site for days at a time. They are not actually hibernating, however. They will still be active when forced out by hunger and cold. Opossums often suffer frostbite and will lose part of their tails and ears. Doesn’t seem to slow them down much though.


Make Sure You Are Not Attracting Opossums to Your Yard

If the opossum is regularly visiting your yard, there must be a food source that is attracting it. Make sure you keep your garbage in a heavy duty, tightly-sealed garbage can, clean up birdseed under feeders, pick up fallen fruit or rotting produce in the garden, and don’t leave pet food (or pet poop) outside. For more, see How Not to Attract Raccoons and Opossums! – Advice From the Pros.

Give Colonial Pest a call and have one of our nuisance wildlife specialists check out your property for opossum den sites. Our wildlife technicians have special training and certification, and follow all regulations regarding the humane treatment and protection of wildlife.



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