Can Possums Climb Fences? Prevention Tips

Possums (commonly known as opossums) are surprisingly adept climbers. They can climb just about any type of fence, including wood, chain link, and even vinyl. They use their sharp claws to grab onto the fence and their strong back legs to propel them up the fence. To prevent possums from climbing over a fence, there are several methods that can be used.

The first option would be to construct a barrier along the top of the fence with materials such as chicken wire or welded mesh. This will act as an obstacle for the possum, making it difficult for them to grip and climb up the fence. A second option is to add a layer of plastic sheeting along the top of your existing fence. This will make it more difficult for them to get a hold on and therefore they will most likely not attempt it.

A third option would be to install motion-activated sprinklers near your fence line. The noise and water from these devices when activated can frighten away possums attempting to cross over. Other ideas include adding strips of greased or sharp metal along the top edge of your fencing, which would make it difficult for any animal trying to scale it. Finally, electric fencing can also be used as this presents an unpleasant shock if touched by any animal trying to climb it.

In conclusion, possums are able to scale fences but there are several options available that can help keep them out of your yard or garden area. These include constructing barriers along the top of fences, installing motion-activated sprinklers or electric fencing, or adding strips of metal along its edges.

Possum Anatomy and Physiology

Possums have unique physical features that aid in their ability to climb. Some of these features include:

Physical features that aid in climbing

  1. Sharp claws: Possums have sharp claws that are adapted for gripping onto surfaces such as trees and fences. These claws are also useful for digging and foraging for food.
  2. Prehensile tail: The possum’s tail is prehensile, which means it can be used to grip onto objects. This tail is an important feature for balancing and stabilizing while climbing.
  3. Flexible limbs: Possums have flexible limbs that allow them to maneuver through tight spaces and climb over obstacles.

Adaptations for arboreal lifestyle

  1. Muscular strength: Possums have strong muscles that are necessary for climbing and jumping from one branch to another. They are capable of climbing up to 30 feet high in trees.
  2. Balance and agility: Possums have a remarkable sense of balance and agility that allow them to move through trees and climb fences with ease.

Possums and Fences

Possums are known to climb various types of fences. However, certain factors can affect their ability to do so.

Types of fences

  1. Wood: Wooden fences can provide a good surface for possums to grip onto with their claws.
  2. Chain-link: Chain-link fences can be difficult for possums to climb, especially if the holes are small. However, if the fence is tall enough, possums can use it to climb over.
  3. Vinyl: Vinyl fences are usually smooth and offer little to no grip for possums, making them difficult to climb.
  4. Metal: Metal fences can be challenging for possums to climb due to their smooth surface, but they can still use their claws to grip onto the surface.

Factors affecting a possum’s ability to climb fences

  1. Fence height: The height of the fence is one of the most important factors that can affect a possum’s ability to climb. A fence that is tall enough can make it difficult for possums to climb over.
  2. Fence material: The type of material used to construct the fence can also determine a possum’s ability to climb over it.
  3. Obstacles or deterrents: Obstacles such as spikes or netting can make it difficult for possums to climb over a fence.

You must keep possums out of your property because these pests carry all sorts of diseases. According to research by disease ecologist Dr. Rick Ostfeld of the Cary Institute, possums can eat as many as 5,000 black-legged ticks—carriers of Lyme Disease—in one season,

Reasons Possums May Attempt to Climb Fences

Possums may attempt to climb fences for various reasons, including:

  • Foraging for food: Possums are omnivores and will climb fences to search for food.
  • Escaping predators: Possums are prey animals and may climb fences to escape from predators.
  • Seeking shelter or nesting sites: Possums may climb fences in search of a suitable place to build their nest or seek shelter.
  • Exploring their territory: Possums are curious animals and may climb fences to explore their territory.

Strategies for Preventing Possums from Climbing Fences

Preventing possums from climbing fences can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can use to deter them from doing so.

Fence modifications

  1. Installing fence toppers: Adding fence toppers such as spikes, netting, or angled slats can make it difficult for possums to climb over the fence.
  2. Using slippery materials: Applying a slippery material such as grease or wax on the fence can make it difficult for possums to grip onto the surface and climb over.

Repellents and deterrents

  1. Natural repellents: Using natural repellents such as vinegar, garlic, or hot peppers can help deter possums from climbing fences.
  2. Ultrasonic devices: Ultrasonic devices emit high-frequency sounds that can repel possums and other animals.

Habitat modification

  1. Removing attractants: Removing potential food sources such as pet food, bird feeders, and garbage cans can discourage possums from entering your property.
  2. Providing alternative habitats: Providing alternative habitats such as nesting boxes or tree hollows can encourage possums to stay away from your property.

Possums and Their Ecological Benefits

Despite the challenges they pose to homeowners, possums play an important role in the ecosystem. Here are some ways in which possums are beneficial:

Role in the ecosystem

  1. Scavengers: Possums are opportunistic scavengers that feed on carrion and help clean up the environment.
  2. Pest control: Possums also help control pest populations by feeding on insects, snails, and slugs.

Balancing the need for coexistence with wildlife

It’s important to balance the need for coexistence with wildlife and prevent conflicts between humans and possums. This can be achieved by implementing responsible and humane wildlife management practices, such as:

  • Learning about possum behavior and how to deter them from entering your property
  • Using humane trapping methods to relocate possums if necessary
  • Encouraging the use of natural habitat enhancements to provide alternative homes for possums

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer the most frequently asked questions about possums.

1. What makes possums excellent climbers?

Possums are excellent climbers due to their long, flexible tails and long toes. Their tail acts as a fifth limb and is used for balance while climbing. They also have opposable digits on their hands and feet which help them grasp onto branches and surfaces while climbing. Possums have strong muscles in their legs and arms that allow them to maneuver quickly through the trees. Furthermore, their sharp claws make it easy for them to grip onto bark and other surfaces. Possums have an incredibly acute sense of smell which they use to locate food sources high up in trees. Combined with their natural agility, possums can easily climb up into the highest branches with ease.

2. Why do possums climb trees and structures?

Possums climb trees and structures to search for food, as many of their preferred foods will be found in these areas such as fruits, nuts, insects, and small animals. By climbing up into the tree branches they can access more food sources than if they stayed on the ground. Possums also seek shelter in the treetops to protect themselves from predators and extreme weather conditions. Being arboreal creatures, possums are adept climbers and use their tail to help them stay balanced while climbing. Possums may even build nests or take up residence in attics of homes or other structures if suitable conditions are present.

3. How can I keep possums out of my yard?

The best way to keep possums out of your yard is by making your space unappealing to them. Possums are attracted to food sources, so make sure that all potential food sources (bird feeders, pet food, garbage cans, etc.) are tightly secured and not left out at night. You can also use motion-activated lights or water sprays as deterrents. Additionally, if you have an open shed or garage in your yard consider keeping it closed during the night and sealing any potential entry points with steel mesh or hardware cloth. Finally, if possums are already present in your yard try using ammonia-soaked rags placed near their den sites and surrounding areas as a repellent.

4. Will possums damage your property?

Possums may potentially cause damage to your property. While they mainly pose little threat, they can become problematic in certain situations. They are known to scavenge for food in gardens, knock over trash cans, damage bird feeders, and even chew on electrical wiring. Additionally, possums can create dens in attics, crawl spaces, or under decks, causing structural damage. Moreover, their droppings may carry parasites or diseases, posing a health risk. To prevent such damage, it’s advisable to secure trash cans, protect gardens, seal off potential entry points, and consult local wildlife control services if necessary.

5. What smell do possums hate?

Possums are reputed to dislike certain strong smells. One smell they are said to dislike is ammonia. The pungent scent of ammonia is often associated with urine, and if used strategically in deterring possums, it may help create an unwelcoming environment for them. However, it is important to note that while possums may dislike certain smells, it is not foolproof or guaranteed to drive them away entirely. Additionally, it is always recommended to avoid methods that may harm or stress these animals, as their presence can contribute to pest control by eating insects, rodents, and even ticks.


Possums are fascinating animals that are known for their ability to climb fences and trees. While they can be a nuisance to homeowners, they play an important role in the ecosystem. Understanding their behavior and implementing responsible and humane wildlife management practices can help prevent conflicts between humans and possums, while ensuring that these marsupials continue to thrive in their natural habitats.


  • Nathan Collins

    Having spent years working in the landscaping industry, Nathan Collins has cultivated a wealth of knowledge about the natural world. He is committed to helping others appreciate the beauty in their backyards, whether it's through identifying rare rocks and minerals or crafting the perfect landscape.

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