Opossums 101

If you live in the South, you’ve seen your fair share of opossums. Even in suburban locations, opossum populations stay quite healthy in this region. High populations lead to opossums pushing closer and closer to individual concentrations to better survive.

Opossums 101

With their silver-grey fur and exposed tails, they can sometimes seem like overgrown rats. They tend to live between 2-4 years in the wild, making them some of the shortest-lived mammals of their size. Opossums are omnivorous and will eat nearly anything (which is the reason why they love your garbage). You will most often see opossums active at night since they’re nocturnal.

Why They’re Pests

Opossums are ultimately pests because they use human-provided tools to survive when people would normally prefer they not. Opossums eat almost everything, so scavenging for garbage or stealing your pet’s food that’s left outside are particularly easy ways for them to sustain themselves. Along with trying to locate food, opossums often seek warmth and shelter in colder months, leading them to find their ways into attics, under decks and to sheds. This can cause a scary and undesirable encounter for you, your kids or your pets.

Generally speaking, opossums are not very dangerous. They are shy creatures who would rather avoid a confrontation. That having been said, opossums are wild animals with very sharp claws and teeth, and they will attack you or your pets if they feel especially threatened. Never corner an opossum or any other wild creature as their only way away from you’re through you. Do not ship your pets after opossums either; the opossum might not win that fight, but be assured that they will fight and your pet will suffer for that. If you run into an opossum in or near your house, please, do not attempt to remove it yourself; call an expert wildlife removal staff.

Do They Carry Disease?

Opossums have excellent immune systems, but they can take various parasites and diseases-after all, they can and do eat garbage and carrion. Internal parasites can usually be passed through contact with opossum droppings, and external parasites (specifically, fleas) can be passed through close proximity. Opossums rarely carry rabies, with only 1 in 800 animals mathematically contaminated, but you still do not need that 1 in 800 opossum to bite you, your children or your pets.


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