The Helpful Opossum

BY: Mary kate feldner, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE CLASS OF 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documented nearly 60,000 cases of tickborne disease within the United States in 2018. Tick populations have been rising, resulting in an increased spread of tickborne illness, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

The humble Virginia opossum, America’s only marsupial, kills nearly 95% of ticks which cross their path. It is estimated that a single opossum is capable of eating an estimated 5,000 ticks every season!With the return of warm weather, there is one unsung hero of the animal kingdom that helps keep the environmental tick levels down. The humble Virginia opossum, America’s only marsupial, kills nearly 95% of ticks that cross their path. It is estimated that a single opossum is capable of eating an estimated 5,000 ticks every season!

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