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Can Opossums Swim?

I found an opossum in my pool the other morning. I was unsure if Opossums could swim, so I decided to do some research.

Opossums can swim, and they are very good at swimming. However, they prefer to be on land, and if they have no way out, they will eventually drown. Opossums fall into ponds and pools when drinking. To stop this from happening, use barriers, or cover the pool.

I wanted to make sure that if any other opossums decided to swim in my pool, they would survive.

Find out more about opossums swimming below with tips to keep them out of your pool or pond.

Opossums are handy to have in your yard.  Find out why here

Are Opossums Good Swimmers?

Opossums are excellent swimmers, and if you have noticed some of your fish in your pond go missing, then it could be down to an opossum. 

Not only will opossums try to catch fish from the bank of your pond, but they will also dive in and swim around quite happily until they get tired.

Opossums swim in a horse-like manner.  They use the front and hind legs on one side first to propel themselves and then the legs on the other side, alternating between moving them forward.

As they swim, the Opossums tail moves from side to side like a rudder on a boat to stabilize themselves.

Are opossums dangerous to humans?  Find out in this article I wrote

How To Safely Remove An Opossum From Your Pond or Pool

Opossums fall into ponds and pools as they are attempting to drink the water.  If there is no way for the opossum to climb out of the water, they will eventually drown. 

Step 1

Use a skimmer for the pool to fish out the opossum.  If the animal is out of reach, put on rubber or latex gloves and pull it out of the water.  Dispose of the opossum appropriately as your local animal control regulations permit.

Step 2

Add enough chlorine to reach a chlorine contact time (CCT) of at least 9,600.  To achieve a CCT of 9,600, you would need to add 20 parts per million (ppm) of chlorine and wait for eight hours.  Test the water every couple of hours to check the current chlorine levels.

Step 3

It is recommended by the Public Health Department to run the filters in your pool for at least three turnovers.  A turnover is the time it would take to filter all the pool water once.  You are looking to filter all the water in the pool three times.

Step 4

Once you have filtered all the water in your pool three times, you will need to turn your filters on again.  Before letting anyone swim in the pool, check the chlorine levels and pH of the pool.  The appropriate level range for chlorine is from 20 ppm to 5 ppm before swimming is allowed. The pH level should range between 7.2 and 7.6 before swimming.

Step 5

You will next need to disinfect your pool skimmer and the pool filtration system.  To disinfect these, it is best to use a mixture of water and sodium hypochlorite.  The sodium hypochlorite should be between 12 and 15 percent concentration.  This should be mixed with 20 parts of water for every 1 part sodium hypochlorite.

Ever wondered why opossums play dead? Find out in this article I wrote

How to keep opossums away infographic

6 Ways To Stop Opossums Getting Into Your Pond Or Pool

Opossums fall into ponds and pools as they are attempting to get a drink of water.  If they are unable to climb out, then they will eventually drown.  There are a few ways to avoid this happening

Cover the water

If possible, cover hot tubs, ponds, and pools so that opossums (and other creatures) cannot get into them.


Use fencing around the water to stop opossums from getting in.  Ensure that the fence or barrier is not one that animals can slip under or get through as this can cause more problems.

The average lifespan of an opossum is between 2 to 4 years.  Find out more here

Automatic sprinkler system

Install and use an automatic sprinkler system to scare the animals away from the water.  The spry of water unexpectedly will be enough to scare away even the bravest opossum.  Animals will soon learn that they need to stay away.

Herbal remedies

Use crushed garlic around the water.  Opossums do not like the smell of garlic.  A mixture of cayenne pepper and water sprayed around the pool can also keep them away.  You can also use a mixture of jalapeños and onion mixed with water to keep them away.

More water

Try putting a bowl of water near to the water so that they instead drink from this. 

Pool ladders

You can make pool ladders for the opossum to get out of the pond or pool using 12” wide netting, towels, or other easy-grip items over the side.  These can be tied to trees, ladders, or any other heavy object.  These can also be clamped to the side to stop them from slipping.  Attaching a sinker to the other end of the ‘ladder’ will hold it in place.  Several ladders should be placed around the water, ideal every 3 feet. 

Opossums have a hard time in the winter.  See how they survive here