Opossums aren’t exactly known as being the cutest or most cuddly creatures in the world – but maybe we should be seeing them in a different light.Most people aren’t big fans of the animal and view them as pests in the neighborhood. They’re known for digging in the trash and just being generally scary-looking when they’re peering back at you with those little eyes.
A representative from the Opossum Awareness & Advocacy group spoke with our friends at Bored Panda and said that although there is more love being generated for the nocturnal critter, many people still have a negative attitude toward opossums.“Different people view opossums in different ways and the perception is changing, but historically many believed opossums were giant rodents that spread rabies, due to the fact they do like a bit like rats (especially their tails).
Historically people would kill them as pests and also eat them. There are several areas where people still do kill them and see them as pests. Some people see them as pests due to the fact that opossums seek warmth in the colder months and can make homes in basements and attics. Many horse owners hate opossums due to the fact that they are capable of carrying a virus that can kill horses. Not all opossums carry this virus. They need to contract it by eating another creature that has the virus. They spread the virus to horses by their urine or excrement (if the horse eats food/grass contaminated by the infected opossum urine/poop then they can become sick and it’s sometimes deadly). So there are some horse owners who kill opossums on sight. Others do not and just take precautions to keep opossums away from anything their horses might eat,” they told Bored Panda.
What you might not know about opossums is that they’re actually responsible for helping reduce Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in animals and humans.
Why is this, you might be asking – well, that’s because ticks are opossums favorite food! As it turns out, they eat thousands of them every single tick season. And one trail camera happened to capture a very sweet moment involving a tick and a deer.
The Vermont Wildlife Coalition has multiple trail cams set up in the wild. It helps them with research and to help keep an eye on the local wild animals in the area.
One trail cam snapped a moment of an opossum being quite the little helper – it’s eating ticks off of a deer’s head!
The photo was shared with the caption:
“Trail cam snaps photo of an opossum eating ticks off of a willing deer’s head! Edit: PHOTO by Greg Swann, who told VWC that indeed the opossum was nibbling ticks!
Opossums can eat up to 5000 ticks in a 2-3 month period, and are resistant to rabies due to their low body temperature. Excellent allies in curbing this particular lyme disease vector.
Trappers don’t like them because they trigger traps set for coyote and other animals.”
Of course, the fascinating photo quickly went viral and has now been shared nearly 40,000 times.
Have we changed your mind about opossums yet? Not only do these misjudged animals help combat tick illnesses but they also help get rid of other pests like mice, slugs, snakes, and other garden pests. They’re so helpful!
Still don’t like them? Maybe because they’re ‘dirty’? Well, you’d be wrong about that. They clean themselves as regularly as cats do and due to their very low body temperature, they rarely contract or spread rabies.
Opossums are very cool, however, they are still wild animals and carry fleas, parasites, and other diseases – so it’s best to leave them alone if encountered.
Interested in helping change the way people perceive opossums? Here’s some advice from the Opossum Awareness & Advocacy group:
“People can help them by educating themselves and having the real facts on opossums (the good and the bad) and then telling their friends and family and towns about them. In my view, opossums are probably the most misunderstood and underrated animal in the USA. They deserve a public apology by many people and organizations that have harmed and maligned them in the past,” they said.
Thanks for all that you do opossums!
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