Everything You Need To Know About Opossums’ Digging Behavior

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Published on March 3, 2022
Last Updated on October 12, 2023

Why Do Opossums Dig Holes?

Opossums dig shallow holes in the dirt because they are searching for food to eat. They mainly eat insects and grubs but they also may be looking for carrion, which is dead animal flesh that is rotting. Opossums will commonly find these items in the ground and feast on them.

Opossums are good at digging shallow holes because they have sharp claws to do so, but they won’t dig super deep ones. They are only looking for food and therefore aren’t going to be digging very much. Digging also isn’t the only way Opossums find food. They will eat carrion and insects that they find aboveground as well as things that they find in trees. 

Do Opossums Dig Burrows or Dens in The Ground?

Though Opossums dig holes in search of food, they do not dig holes to live in them. It is hard for Opossums to dig deep holes big enough to live in. This means that instead of going through the work to make their own den, Opossums will move into abandoned dens. These dens are made by other small animals such as chipmunks, moles, and rats. 

If Opossums live in a den, it’s common for them to store food that they have found in the den. Opossums have impressively good memories and are able to remember where they leave all sorts of food. Dens are the perfect place for opossums to take their food because they are safer from predators and animals who might want to steal the food.

Though Opossums will sometimes live in dens, they are not necessarily their preferred homes. Opossums, who are excellent climbers, like living in trees because they are the safest refuge from predators. They’ve also been known to find homes in man-made buildings such as garages and sheds as well as chimneys.  

Will Opossums Dig up Your Yard?

Since opossums dig to look for food, they may end up digging shallow holes in your yard at night. However, if you are seeing deep holes or dens in your yard, it is most likely from some other small animal.

Things that opossums will dig up include mulch, bark chips, straw, and sod. If you are finding shallow holes in these materials in your yard, chances are it is from an opossum.

Though opossums don’t tend to dig deep, they can if they are determined. If an opossum really wants to get into your yard, it is very possible that it will dig under your fence if you have one. So if you are dealing with opossums in your yard, don’t think that putting up a fence will deter them from getting in.

Do Opossums only Dig at Night?

Since Opossums are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day, it is more common for them to come out and look for food at night. This means that they are going to be digging during the nighttime as opposed to the daytime. During the day, opossums will sleep in their dens or in other hidden places such as trees to stay safe from predators.

Just because opossums are nocturnal doesn’t mean that they don’t come out in the day from time to time. If it’s particularly cold, opossums may come out during the day because they can’t sleep or because they need to stock up on food. Opossums will also come out during the day if they were disturbed when sleeping or if their food supply is low.

If any of these things happen and opossums are driven out during the day, it is possible that they will be digging during the day. Just because it’s more common for them to dig at night doesn’t mean that you won’t see one out digging in the daylight every now and again.

How Common Is It for Opossums to Dig?

When Opossums are awake at night, they are always on the hunt for food. Digging up dirt and leaves is one of the ways that opossums find food, and therefore it is a very common thing to do among opossums.

However, opossums don’t spend as much time digging as you might think. They tend to be animals that spend most of their time in trees because trees are safer than the ground. Opossum claws are also made for tree climbing and therefore aren’t as useful in digging for long periods of time.

Overall, just because digging is common for opossums doesn’t mean that they are doing it all the time. They have multiple ways of finding food and don’t just have to dig to do so. Digging is a great method, but it may not be the safest or easiest choice for an opossum to find a nice meal, and therefore it isn’t something that they constantly do.

Will Opossums Always Dig in The Same Spot?

Opossums do not always dig in the same spot. When an opossum is digging, it creates a shallow hole that is optimal for finding insects and grub. Once that shallow hole is dug, the Opossum doesn’t have a need to keep digging in the same area. It will move on to somewhere new to dig or stop digging altogether after digging in one spot.

You may find Opossums digging holes in your lawn and wonder if they will keep coming back to dig more, and the simple answer is no. If an opossum keeps coming back to your yard, it’s not because of the holes they’ve dug but probably because they have a home close by or something else is attracting them such as your pet food or garbage can. 

Opossums will dig in many different types of materials to look for food. They will dig in dirt, bark chips, garbage cans, mulch, and straw. It’s safe to say that opossums don’t really care where they are digging as long as there are hopes of finding food. If opossums do dig in the same spot more than once, it isn’t purposeful or done for any particular reason other than finding food. 

Can The Opossum’s Digging Behavior Damage My Property?

Opossums may also ruin parts of your yard in other ways besides just digging holes. They can destroy insulation and ductwork on your house, which can be annoying to replace. They may knock over garbage cans and look for food in those. They also might break your bird feeders and scare away the birds you were trying to attract.

Opossums may not be inherently dangerous, but they can be quite the nuisance whether they are digging holes or not. Having Opossums in your yard can lead to some unpleasant results, and it’s best to try and prevent them from taking over.

How Do You Keep Opossums From Digging Up Your Yard?

One easy and effective way to keep opossums out of your yard is by placing scents around where they might enter. Smells opossums don’t like include ammonia and mothballs. If you put some mothballs in a container with no lid or pour some ammonia in a container with no lid, these smells are likely to keep opossums away from your yard.

Another way to keep them out of your yard is to eliminate shelter opportunities. Opossums will find shelter in piles of firewood or brush in your yard, so keeping firewood indoors and getting rid of brush piles as soon as possible will help keep opossums from finding a home in your yard.

Lastly, you can keep food sources to a minimum as much as possible. If you have a pet and you put their food bowl outside, this is something that will attract opossums. Fallen fruit from fruit trees is also something that opossums will like. Cleaning this fruit out of your yard as much as possible and putting pet food inside or in a sealed container are great ways to keep opposums out and hopefully keep them from digging holes in your yard.


  • Tommy

    Hi, I'm Tommy! I'm the founder of Floofmania.com. I am an animal enthusiast and self-proclaimed wildlife expert as well as a dog trainer and breeder of the breed Löwchen. Since I was a kid, I’ve been wildly fascinated by animals, both from growing up in a rural area where there were always animals around, but especially from seeing them in the wild.

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