When you think of an opossum, you may immediately think of a small, rodent-like animal that you often see sitting unpleasantly on the road or in a pool filter. But did you know that opossums can be greatly beneficial to landowners?
Opossums, more commonly referred to as possums, are actually not related to rats. They’re classified as marsupials or “pouched mammals” that are more closely related to kangaroos or koalas. They also don’t carry tons of diseases as most people like to think. In reality, these critters are pretty much immune to rabies. And according to Mother Nature Network, opossums are eight times less likely to carry rabies than wild dogs.
Opossums are actually a great “tool” for landowners when it comes to stopping the spread of Lyme disease throughout the deer population on their properties. These nocturnal mammals like to “vacuum” up deer ticks and a single one can kill as many as 4,000 ticks per week, according to the National Wildlife Federation. While their diet consists of bugs like snails and beetles, they’re also good at keeping rats away. Opossums have to compete with rats for food and will often kill them to make sure they get their dinner.
While I wouldn’t recommend catching a family of opossums and letting them loose on your land, I will say that you may want to leave these little guys alone if you ever see them on your property! They’re a great benefit to deer populations and the ecosystem in general! But maybe don’t get too close to them, as they have 50 teeth in those tiny mouths…
What’s your opinion on opossums that may be roaming around your property?