What Sounds Do Opossums Make? – Identify and Interpret Their Sounds

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Ever wondered what sounds opossums make, from hissing and growling to clicking

You might not notice them, but possums are out there in the dark, exploring the world with their senses.

These shy and silent animals have their own ways of talking to each other and sometimes to us.

Whether they are hanging from a branch or hiding in a crawl space, possums are part of our natural environment and deserve our respect and admiration.

In this post, I will discuss their vocalization and communication.

Key Takeaways

  • Opossums communicate through hissing, growling, clicking, and sneeze-like sounds, each serving a specific purpose, such as defense, mating, or mother-offspring communication.
  • The Virginia opossum is the only species found in the United States and Canada, with a total of 93 opossum species native to the Americas.
  • Recognizing opossum sounds can aid in identifying their presence in human habitats, like attics or basements, and managing interactions with them.
  • Opossums play beneficial roles in ecosystems, such as controlling insect populations and cleaning up carrion, despite sometimes being considered pests.
  • Professional wildlife removal services, like Trutech Wildlife, offer humane solutions for managing opossums and other wildlife in human-occupied areas.

The Silent Nocturnal Wanderers

Opossums - discover what they sound like

Opossums prefer the cover of darkness to go about their activities. As solitary animals, they do not often engage in noisy communication.

However, when they do make sounds, it’s usually for a good reason.

Whether it’s a mother calling her babies or an opossum feeling threatened, each sound serves a purpose in their survival.

A Diverse Family

There are 93 species of opossums, all native to the Americas. From the dense forests of South America to the suburban backyards of the United States and Canada, these animals have adapted to a wide range of environments.

The Virginia opossum, known for its distinctive white face, is the only species that venture into the colder climates of North America.

When Opossums Speak

Even though opossums are usually silent, they have a few key sounds that they use to communicate:

  • Hissing and Growling: When threatened, an opossum might hiss or growl. This is their way of saying, “Back off!” It’s a defense mechanism designed to scare away predators or threats without resorting to physical confrontation.
  • Clicking Noises: During the mating season, opossums use clicking sounds to attract mates. This unique form of communication is essential for their reproduction and ensures the continuation of their species.
  • Baby Calls: The young ones, affectionately known as joeys, have their own set of sounds. They make sneeze-like noises to call their mothers. This adorable form of communication helps keep the family unit together, especially when the mother is foraging for food.

The Importance of Recognizing Opossum Sounds

The Importance of Recognizing Opossum Sounds

Knowing the sounds of opossums can be crucial, especially if you live in an area where they are common.

Recognizing these sounds can help in identifying their presence in your property, such as in attics, basements, garages, or porches.

Why Do Opossums Visit Human Habitats?

Opossums are drawn to human habitats in search of food, shelter, and water.

They are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat just about anything they can find, from garbage to pet food left outside.

While they are beneficial for controlling pests and cleaning up dead animals, their presence might not always be welcome, especially if they decide to make your home theirs.

Wildlife Control and Opossums

Companies specializing in wildlife control offer humane solutions for managing opossums and other wildlife that may invade human spaces.

From attic inspections to securing entry points, these services ensure that opossums can be safely relocated, reducing the chance of unwanted encounters.

Opossums and Their Ecosystem Role

Opossums and Their Ecosystem Role

Despite their sometimes unwanted presence, opossums play a significant role in their ecosystems.

They help control insect populations, clean up carrion, and their immune systems even combat Lyme disease by eating ticks.

Understanding and respecting their place in nature is crucial for maintaining biodiversity.

Predators and Threats

Opossums face various predators in their natural habitats, including coyotes, dogs, and owls.  Their ability to “play dead” is a well-known defense mechanism against these threats.

By acknowledging the sounds they make, we can better interpret their behavior and the challenges they face in the wild.

Can Opossums Be Beneficial to My Garden?

Yes, opossums can be quite beneficial to gardens.

Their diet includes unwanted pests such as snails, slugs, and even small rodents, which can help keep your garden healthy and free of pests.

Additionally, by eating fallen fruit and other debris, they help keep the garden clean.

Opossum Behavior Through Sounds

Opossum Behavior Through Sounds

The various sounds opossums make can give us insights into their behavior and how they interact with their environment. For instance:

  • Hissing indicates fear or aggression and is a clear sign that the opossum feels threatened.
  • Clicking noises, particularly during the mating season, suggest that opossums are nearby and looking for mates.
  • Sneeze-like sounds from joeys are crucial for their survival, signaling their location to their mother.

Recognizing these sounds can help us coexist peacefully with opossums, understanding when to give them space and when it’s safe to observe them.

Safety Measures Around Opossums

While opossums are not typically aggressive, it’s important to maintain a safe distance and not attempt to handle them.

They are wild animals, and like all wild animals, they can bite or scratch if they feel cornered or threatened.

Observing wildlife from a distance is the best way to enjoy their presence without causing stress to the animal or putting yourself at risk.

When to Seek Professional Help

Encounters with opossums inside human dwellings, such as attics or basements, require professional intervention.

Wildlife removal services, such as Trutech Wildlife, are equipped to handle these situations humanely and effectively.

They can also provide valuable advice on preventing future wildlife encounters, ensuring that your home remains safe and wildlife-friendly.

The Relationship Between Humans and Opossums

The Relationship Between Humans and Opossums

Living harmoniously with opossums means understanding their needs and behaviors, including the sounds they make.

By respecting their habitat and employing humane wildlife management practices, we can enjoy the benefits opossums bring to our environments.

Companies specializing in wildlife management play a crucial role in this balance, offering solutions that benefit both humans and opossums.


What should I do if I hear opossum sounds in my home?

If you suspect an opossum has taken residence in your attic or basement, it’s best to contact a wildlife removal service. They can safely remove the animal and provide advice on preventing future visits.

Are opossums dangerous?

Opossums are generally not aggressive and prefer to avoid confrontations. While they can hiss or growl when threatened, they are more likely to “play dead” or escape if possible.

How can I prevent opossums from entering my property?

Securing garbage, feeding pets indoors, and closing off access to attics, basements, and garages can deter opossums from visiting. Wildlife-proof fencing can also be effective.

Do opossums make sounds daily?

Opossums are generally quiet and don’t make sounds daily. They vocalize mainly when threatened, during mating season, or when joeys communicate with their mother.

Can opossums bark like dogs?

No, opossums do not bark like dogs. Their vocalizations are limited to hissing, growling, clicking, and sneeze-like sounds.

Do opossums make noise when they eat?

Opossums can be relatively quiet eaters, but they may make soft grunting noises while foraging or eating.

How can I tell if an opossum is scared?

An opossum will hiss or growl if it’s scared, and it might also “play dead” as a defense mechanism.

Is the clicking sound made only by male opossums?

Both male and female opossums can make clicking sounds, though this is more commonly associated with mating behavior.

Do opossums vocalize more during a specific season?

Yes, opossums are more vocal during the mating season, using specific sounds to attract mates or communicate with potential rivals.

Final Words

The sounds made by opossums are a window into their world. From the hissing of a threatened opossum to the clicking noises of a mating call, each sound tells a story of survival, communication, and the complex interactions within their environments.

Having knowledge about these vocalizations allows us to foster a deeper respect for these often misunderstood creatures and their role in our world.

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