If you reside in the South, you’ve seen your fair share of opossums. Even in suburban locations, opossum populations stay quite healthy in this area. High populations lead to opossums pushing closer and closer to human concentrations to better survive. Some have adapted to stealing pet food and garbage for sustenance, and some hide in residential structures for warmth and security.
Opossums are roughly cat-sized marsupials, usually around two feet long and ten pounds in weight. 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 almost anything (which is the reason why they love your garbage). You’ll most often see opossums active at night because they are nocturnal.
Why They Are Pests
Opossums are ultimately pests because they utilize human-provided tools to survive when people would normally prefer they not. Opossums eat nearly everything, so scavenging for garbage or stealing your pet’s food that’s left outside are especially easy ways for them to sustain themselves. In addition to trying to locate food, opossums often find warmth and shelter in colder months, leading them to find their ways into attics, under decks and into sheds. This may lead to a scary and undesirable encounter for you, your children or your pets.
Are They Dangerous?
Generally , opossums are not very dangerous. They are shy creatures who would rather avoid a confrontation. That having been said, opossums are wild creatures with very sharp claws and teeth, and they will attack you or your pets whenever they feel particularly threatened. Never corner an opossum or some other wild creature as their only way away from you’re through you. Do not send your pets following 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 come across an opossum in or near your house, please, do not attempt to remove it yourself; call a professional wildlife removal team.
Can They Carry Disease?
Opossums have excellent immune systems, but they can take a variety of 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 statistically infected, but you still don’t need that 1 in 800 opossum to bite you, your kids or your pets.