Unfortunately, opossums are not animals that humans hold in high esteem. Many people see them as pests, as they often crawl into their garbage cans in search of a quick snack. But according to an Opossum Awareness & Advocacy worker, this perception is changing, although we still see cases of violence towards these animals due to misinformation. “Not everyone sees opossums in the same way and the perception is changing, but for a long time people have believed that opossums were giant rodents that spread rabies, as they look a little like rats. Historically people killed them as pests and also ate them. There are places where that behavior has not changed. One of the reasons they are seen as pests is because opossums seek heat in the colder months and can make homes in basements and attics. Many horse owners hate opossums because they can carry a virus that can kill horses. Not all of them carry this virus, some get it when they eat another creature that has it. That’s why some horse owners kill opossums on sight. Others don’t and take precautions to keep opossums away from anything their horses might eat,” they said.
Obviously, there is no need to call animal control (or take more severe measures) when these creatures visit your garden. In fact, they are more beneficial than many think. Opossums are the unsung heroes responsible for quietly reducing Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, not only in other animals but also in humans. How do they do it? Well, it turns out their favorite snack is not leftover food from your trash can. They prefer to eat ticks and it’s estimated that they eat 5,000 of them in a single season.
Recently, a trail camera captured a touching moment between an opossum and a deer
Not long ago, the Vermont Wildlife Coalition posted a touching photo showing how useful opossums are at eliminating ticks. The picture shows an opossum eating ticks directly off a deer’s face. It quickly went viral, and it perfectly illustrates a symbiotic relationship between two different species, which managed to coexist and help each other.
Photo credit: ramendan
It also shows that opossums have a very important task, as they are the “cleaners” of nature. These nocturnal creatures not only eliminate ticks, but also combat pests such as mice, snakes, slugs, and other garden pests. They are also not filthy animals as they are believed to be, since they clean themselves as much as cats do. In addition, they rarely contract or spread rabies because of their very low body temperature.
Photo credit: James Gates
Although they try in different ways to appear intimidating, they really scare easily. That’s why they play dead, whistle and even pass out when they’re scared. They can also be pretty adorable.
Photo credit: Tony Alter
If you encounter them, the best thing is to leave them alone. It is also not recommended to keep them as pets and it is even illegal in many states.
Photo credit: born1945
The Opossum Awareness & Advocacy worker said that humans are causing these creatures significant damage by destroying their natural habitat and being misinformed about them. “People can help them by educating themselves and having the real facts on opossums (the good and the bad) and then telling their friends and family and towns about them.”
Photo credit: Kathy