Virginia Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) often get a bad rap, but they can actually be helpful to us and our environment!
But wait, aren’t they dangerous wild animals that can infect me with diseases? Yes, they are wild and they can carry zoonotic diseases, so you should be cautious with them, just like any other wild species. However, opossums are general not aggressive and their prime defense is to “play dead” and avoid confrontation. Additionally, they rarely contract rabies (likely due to their low body temperature) so they are a low risk vector for that disease.
Okay so how can they help me? Opossums can actually help clean up pests in the environment because they are opportunistic scavengers that eat things like cockroaches, crickets, beetles, slugs, snails, snakes, and many others. One very important target for them is ticks, which are a significant vector for Lyme disease. Opossums are very good at finding and killing ticks, thus eliminating a substantial amount of them every season. This is not only helpful to prevent disease in us, but also beneficial for pets and wildlife that can contract Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses. Continue reading