Why Is There a Dead Possum in My Yard?

Possums are harmless animals and many times people mistake them for being aggressive. Many times they are accused of killing the chicken, tipping the trash can, or even digging up the garden. These accusations are rarely true as they only clear the mess made by other animals and they end up carrying the blame. If you are taking a walk in your yard and come across a dead possum, you will have to wonder ‘why is there a dead possum in my yard?’

The reason why you found a dead possum in your yard is either he was looking for food and died out of hunger, he was infected, a scavenger attacked him, or he is playing dead for fear of attack.

 Read on to know why a possum might be in your yard, how to tell if a possum is dead or not, and how to get rid of a dead possum, and more.

What Are Possums Doing In Your Yard?

Possums are rarely seen in daylight, they normally linger around their habitat but mostly at night. If you find a possum in your yard at the day, it is starving and had to look for food, or he is playing dead.

A possum can play dead if he is caught unaware or is threatened.

A possum can also be in your yard because he starved to death or a scavenger attacked him at night.

What Happens When A Possum Plays Dead?

Possums play dead when they are caught unaware or are threatened, they do this so that the attacker can think they are dead and leave them alone.

When a possum is playing dead he will turn static, close his eyes or gaze into space and act like he is not breathing. He will also open his mouth with the tongue out, the slaver will run out of his mouth, and he will release his bowel. Even if you stab or push the possum he will not react, he will appear dead by all means.

How Long Can a Possum Play Dead

A possum can play dead from 40 minutes to a maximum of 4 hours. Playing dead is a compulsorily way of the possum dealing with shock. It cannot control the process in any way.. The duration of the comatose condition will be determined by how much the possum was shocked.

How To Tell If The Opossum Is Dead?

You can differentiate a dead possum from a playing dead possum. This can also get tricky as a playing dead possum smells like a dead possum.

You can know the dissimilarity between the two by checking if it is breathing or not. Additionally, you can check the temperature, if he is warm that means he is alive but if he is cold, he is as good as dead. To do all these you are required to touch the possum which is unhygienic, you should wear a pair of gloves.

You should be careful while touching the possum to avoid a scratch or a bite, grab his head and tail to minimize his chances of moving.

 To avoid all the risks associated with touching it, the best thing is to wait for an hour to four and observe if there will be any movement. If there is not even a single movement after four hours, you can declare the possum dead.

How Do I Dispose Of A Dead Possum In My Yard?

You should dispose of a possum after you are certain he is dead. Wear a pair of gloves and take the possum outside your compound, call a wildlife rehabilitator who is nearby and hand it over.

Wearing a glove while wearing a dead possum helps to practice general hygiene, it is said that dead possums carry deadly diseases but that’s just a myth.

Alternatively, you can put the dead possum in a plastic trash bag and seal it firmly. Place the plastic container into a garbage can with a lid. Ensure that the lid is firmly closed to avoid scavengers from making a mess of it.

Benefits Of Possums In Your Yard

You read that right, possums can be of benefit to your yard. Many times they are loathed in that they tip the garbage cans and make a mess of the compound. In reality, possums are opportunistic animals and they only clean the mess made by other animals.

Possums are not aggressive but they can be if attacked. You should not go near a frightened or attacked possum.

Possums can help keep your compound clean by eating;

  • crickets
  • beetles
  • slugs
  • rats
  • snails
  • over-ripe fruit
  • mice
  • remains of dead animals
  • poisonous snakes
  • Cockroaches 

How To Keep Possums Away From Your Yard

If you hate having possums in your yard you can follow these recommendations;

  1. Do not leave any pet food outside.
  2. Pick any over-ripe or rotten fruits in your garden.
  3. Burn all the nearby bushes, fill any holes on the concrete slab to destroy their hideouts.
  4. Ensure you lock the doors of your pet at night.
  5. Use possum repellants.
  6. Use the trapping method.

How Can You Help Opossums?

Having learned of the benefits and the nature of possums, the least you can do is to be their advocates. Possums face animal cruelty due to people’s perceptions about them. Make everyone around you aware of the benefits of possums to help put an end to their suffering.

If you come across a dead possum, you should assume he is playing dead and wait for four hours before disposing of it. If it is a young or injured possum, call a local wildlife rehabilitator straightaway.


Possums are not aggressive but they can be, a defense mechanism when threatened. Possums are beneficial and should not be killed ruthlessly.

Whenever you see a possum walking in your yard know that it is in search of food and for a dead possum, it either died out of hunger or attacked by animals, infections or it is playing dead.

Regardless of whether it is dead, you should give it time around four hours before concluding.

 I am sure at the moment you understand why there is a dead possum in your yard.

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