If you live in the South, you’ve seen your fair share of opossums. Even in suburban areas, opossum populations stay quite healthy in this region. High populations lead to opossums pushing closer and closer to human concentrations to better survive. Some have adapted to stealing pet food and garbage for sustenance, and some hide in residential structures for warmth and security.

Opossums 101

Opossums are roughly cat-sized marsupials, usually around two feet long and ten pounds in weight. With their silver-grey fur and exposed tails, they can sometimes look like overgrown rats. They tend to live between 2-4 years in the wild, making them some of the shortest-lived mammals of their size. Opossums are omnivorous and will eat nearly anything (which is why they love your garbage). You will most often see opossums active at night because they are nocturnal.

Why They’re Pests

Opossums are ultimately pests because they use human-provided resources to survive when people would generally prefer they not. Opossums eat nearly everything, so scavenging for garbage or stealing your pet’s food that’s left outside are particularly easy ways for them to sustain themselves. In addition to trying to find food, opossums often seek warmth and shelter in colder months, leading them to find their ways into attics, under decks and into sheds. This can lead to a scary and unwanted encounter for you, your children or your pets.

Are They Dangerous?

Generally speaking, opossums are not very dangerous. They are shy creatures who would rather avoid a confrontation. That being said, opossums are wild animals with very sharp claws and teeth, and they will attack you or your pets if they feel especially threatened. Never corner an opossum or any other wild animal as their only way away from you is through you. Do not send your pets after opossums either; the opossum may not win that fight, but be assured that they will fight and your pet will suffer for that. If you come across an opossum in or near your home, please, don’t try to remove it yourself; call a professional wildlife removal team.

Do They Carry Disease?

Opossums have excellent immune systems, but they can carry a variety of parasites and diseases—after all, they can and do eat garbage and carrion. Internal parasites can usually be passed through contact with opossum droppings, and external parasites (specifically, fleas) can be passed through close proximity. Opossums rarely carry rabies, with only 1 in 800 animals statistically infected, but you still don’t want that 1 in 800 opossum to bite you, your children or your pets.

Removal

The only way to remove pesky opossums from your environment is to trap them and remove them to another environment. Don’t try to do this yourself! You will only risk hurting yourself or hurting the animal. By hiring a professional wildlife removal team, you can be certain that everyone stays safe and that your particular opossum will not find its way back into your home. In addition to removing and relocating any problematic opossums, professional wildlife removal teams can also offer solutions to help ensure that additional opossums and other wildlife do not enter your home or other living spaces in the future.

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