Another reason to love opossums

About the size of a large house cat, the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is North America’s only marsupial, a mammal that carries and nurses its young in a pouch. One of Earth’s oldest surviving mammals, opossums (or simply possums), have been around for at least 65 million years, first appearing in North America about the time dinosaurs went extinct.

Most people don’t know it, but possums are the unsung heroes in the fight against Lyme Disease, eating over 95 percent of the ticks that land on them during their meanderings. Researchers estimate the average possum kills thousands of ticks every week. They also eat snails, slugs, and beetles, so they’re a welcome addition to the garden. They’ll also catch and eat unwelcome pests like mice, rats, fire ants, cockroaches, and even roadkill, making them an important part of Nature’s cleanup crew.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about possums is that they’re immune to snake venom, and actually kill and eat snakes, even venomous ones like rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths. Peptide in the Virginia opossum’s blood has been found to be an effective and inexpensive antivenom against bites from the western diamondback rattlesnake in the U.S. and the Russell viper in India.

So the next time you see a possum, walk away. They are far more beneficial as scavengers than harmful for any damage they might do. Give Nature a break!

Photo courtesy

9 thoughts on “Another reason to love opossums

  1. I think their slow and clumsy gait throws people off, and all most people know about them is that they have the ability to “play dead.” There is so much more to this unassuming creature.

  2. Very informative. Yep, they do look fierce. Hope we have them here. I live-trapped one once and released it into a more wooded area.

  3. They usually only hang around when there’s a food source, like trash or cat food. Once the food source is removed, they move along.

  4. All great to know Jo Ann, thanks! (And, A’s Mother Nature’s been keeping this old world straightened out all along, working with her just makes so much more sense than going against; )

      • True. It’s amazing how people freak out when they see a wild animal on their property. My advice is, if they’re not creating a problem, leave them alone. They are looking for food, and If there’s no food source, they will move along.

        • ‘Zactly! The more, the merrier, in my book – shows you’ve a welcoming Biosphere happening, right?♥️
          And besides, I figure any creature that’s a Tick Control Expert deserves all the encouragement it can possibly get! Now THERE’s a Nasty Thing to freak out about!; )

Comments are closed.