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Opossums…friend or foe?

possums on a branch

 

Opossums…friend or foe?

 

Before everyone shouts "FOE!", consider this:  Opossums are one of our greatest allies in the war on ticks.  No, really!  The diet of the opossum include snakes, snails, slugs, mice, rats and carrion…and TICKS.  Their appetite for the tick is practically insatiable.  It is estimated that one opossum consumes up to 5,500 ticks in a single week. (We did not add an extra zero on to that number.  It really is 5,500 ticks per week!) Ticks transmit Lyme disease which affects around 300,000 Americans every year.  While you may think that the lowly opossum basically knocks over trash cans in the dark and likely carries rabies, think again.  Opossums are rarely found to be rabid and if the price to pay for tick control is a tipped trash can every once in a while, then perhaps we should consider that a fair exchange.  The DFW Wildlife Coalition sums it up nicely:

"When left alone, the opossum does not attack pets or other wildlife; he does not chew yhour telephone or electric wires, spread disease, dig up your flower bulbs or turn over your trash cans.  On the contrary, the opossum does a great service in insect, venomous snake, and rodent control.  He takes as his pay only what he eats and maybe a dry place to sleep.  The possum tolerates other pets, our cars, prodding sticks, rocks and brooms.  'Attacks' by possums are simply non-existent.  When he gets too close or accidentally moves into your attic space, he can be easily convinced to move along.  If you are lucky enough to have one of these guys around, you can rest assured he is cleaning up what he can and will soon move along to help someone else."

Want to learn more?  Read the whole article at the Inquisitor here:  http://www.inquisitr.com/2106782/opossums-the-unsung-heroes-against-lyme-disease-and-other-tick-borne-diseases/ and cut the opossum a break.  He is more than likely doing much more good than harm!