An Opossum – Friend or Foe?

August 13, 2019 - Comment

The opossum is a marsupial  and the Western Hemisphere is the home of the most marsupials. They originated in South America. While they are mostly docile, aloof and rarely dangerous, opossums can attack if they feel threatened, biting back and posing a threat to house pets. Rabies is extremely rare in opossums. It’s possible though

An opossum – a marsupial found in the Western Hemisphere.

The opossum is a marsupial  and the Western Hemisphere is the home of the most marsupials. They originated in South America.

While they are mostly docile, aloof and rarely dangerous, opossums can attack if they feel threatened, biting back and posing a threat to house pets. Rabies is extremely rare in opossums. It’s possible though unlikely, that opossums can transmit rabies.  It’s prudent to always be safe and avoid personal contact with them and keep your pets away from them as well.

Opossums, sometimes referred to just as possums, are a benefit to ecosystems and a healthy environment beyond eradicating ticks. They will catch and eat cockroaches, rats, mice, snails, slugs and snakes – in addition to consuming dead animals of all types.

This animal is really scary looking and resembles a huge rat in appearance, but the opossum is not related to the rat. In fact, the opossum, being a marsupial, or “pouched” mammal, is related to other marsupials such as the kangaroo and the koala. Like kangaroos and koalas, infant opossums stay inside the mother’s pouch to nurse and develop.

Opossums are nocturnal, which means they are awake at night and sleep during the day. They spend nights searching for food. Though they don’t hibernate, opossums do slow down during the winter. They live in burrows that they fill with dry leaves or even shredded paper, and fat reserves help keep them warm.

If you want to get rid of possums in your yard, spread something that smells potent like mothballs (in a mesh bag or just scattered) or place a clove of crushed garlic around areas that you want them to avoid!

The breeding season for the Virginia opossum can begin as early as December and continue through October with most infants born between the months of February and June. A female opossum may have 1-3 litters per year.

While possums are rarely dangerous, keep in mind that they are a predator when it comes to cats. If threatened or attacked by a dog or anything, including humans, they will attack with massively pointed teeth. Don’t even consider keeping one for a pet!

If bitten for any reason, wash the wound immediately. Don’t use soap with any alcohol or fragrance in it, but just warm water and soap. Apply an antiseptic to the wound. As with any animal bites, you will need to keep a close eye on your wound to make sure that it doesn’t get infected.

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