There has been a recent spike in our state of attacks against opossums so we wanted to take the opportunity to share a little more about this very amazing animal.
The opossum is North America’s only marsupial. This means they carry their young in a pouch after birth, much like a kangaroo or koala. Once the young reach juvenile stage and outgrow the pouch, they ride around on the mom’s back until they are big enough to go off on their own. They are found throughout the United States, in parts of Canada and parts of Mexico. While they resemble rodents, they are not rodents or part of the rodent family.
The Helpful Opossum
Opossums are helpful and beneficial to any area they inhabit. Most will not stay in one area for more than a couple of days before moving along. Opossums eat insects and other pests you don’t want in your yard, including beetles, cockroaches/palmetto bugs, crickets and ticks. They especially enjoy ticks and a single opossum can eat as many as 5,000 ticks in one season, helping prevent the spread of Lyme disease. While they eat ticks, they are immune to Lyme and do not carry or spread it. Opossums are also immune to rabies and most kinds of snake venom, with the exception of the coral snake’s venom. Other foods the opossum consumes include worms, mice, rats, snakes, snails and dead animals. They’re nature’s clean up crew!
Be an Opossum Helper
To best be an opossum helper, there are a few things you can do. First, keep your distance and let them do their thing. Most opossums don’t stay in one place for more than a few days before moving on. Don’t leave out cat or dog food as this attracts not only opossums but also raccoons and rodents that are more likely to carry disease. If you do have a close encounter, an opossum might hiss at you to try to scare you off. They also have a fear response where they “play dead” that is involuntary. Never handle opossums or their babies. Handling any kind of wildlife is best left to the professionals. While the babies are cute, it’s best to admire them from afar. Additionally, never hit or strike an opossum or threaten them in any way as that will provoke their involuntary fear response. Give them space and they’ll clear your yard of pests for you and move along.
If you are having issues with an opossum and need them relocated, please call Pee Dee Wildlife Control. Our expert wildlife handlers know how to properly and safely trap and relocate wild animals without causing them harm. Let us know if we can be of service!