Editor’s note: I had a possum who snuck through the cat door and went in and fell asleep on a pink cat bed. I was scared so called animal control to come take him back outside. They did and I made sure they just put him out in the property and he was fine. He kept coming back in though on a daily basis (much to the cats’ chagrin) and would eat their food. I finally gave up on keeping him out and would have to give him an apple once in a while at night to get him out for the night (and lock the cat door) Here are some photos. of Ole Awesome the possum. (He had his ear nicked and we always wondered if he used to be a pet, or just a possum fight : )
Opossums might not be the most beautiful animals but they are one of the oldest species of mammal AND America’s only babies-in-the pouch marsupial! They love to eat grubs, insects, and even mice…think of them like vacuum cleaners. They eat what they find.
Their first line of defense includes drooling and a nasty, hissing snarl- which is only a bluff. If you challenge them on it, they faint or “play possum.” I dunno…I think they’re cute. In fact, I once had an awesome possum who kept coming in through my cat door. Animal control had to take him back out to the woods 3x, too! He just kept coming back.
But, ecologists have learned something about opossums that’s GOOD for us- they’re like a magnet when it comes to freeing the world of black-legged ticks (which spread Lyme disease)- they love to eat them.
From the article:
“Several years ago, scientists decided to learn about the part different mammals play in the spread of the ticks and the disease.
They tested six species — white-footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums and veerys and catbirds — by capturing and caging them, and then exposing each test subject to 100 ticks.
What they found, is that of the six, the opossums were remarkably good at getting rid of the ticks — much more so that any of the others.”
And part of the reason they are so good at it is because they groom themselves fastidiously, like cats. If they find a tick, they lick it off and swallow it. How did the researchers know this? They went through droppings. Can you imagine that job?
So, with the poop in hand, the team estimated that in one season, an opossum can kill about 5,000 ticks. Amazing. As opossums go about their night business, they pick up lots of ticks, some of which end up getting their blood meal from the possum. However, more than 90 percent of them ended up being groomed away and swallowed.
So, if you see a friendly, ridding-the-world of ticks opossum, don’t shoo it off. Don’t try and hit it with your car. And certainly, don’t be afraid of them- even when they drool and hiss. They aren’t rabid, there are actually resistant to rabies. Just let it do its job.
Source: Off Grid Quest