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 then they will eventually drown. Opossums fall into ponds and pools when drinking. To stop this happening, use barriers or cover the pool.

I wanted to make sure that if any other opossums decided to have a swim in my pool that they would be able to survive.

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

If you or someone you know loves opossums then you may like some of my favorite gifts that you can get on Amazon.

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 they will dive in and swim around quite happily until they get tired.

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

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

If you want to know if opossums are dangerous, I have written an article here.

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, then eventually they will 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 then 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 per cent concentration.  This should be mixed with 20 parts of water for every 1 part sodium hypochlorite.

6 Ways To Stop Opossums Getting Into Your Pond Or Pool

Photo of opossum

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 getting in.  Make sure that the fence or barrier is not one that animals can slip under or get through as this can cause more problems.

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 instead. 

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 slipping.  By attaching a sinker to the other end of the ‘ladder’, this will hold it in place.  Several ladders should be placed around the water, ideal every 3 feet. 

If you or someone you know loves opossums then you may like some of my favorite gifts that you can get on Amazon.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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