Are Opossums Dangerous?

Opossums are an animal that people either love or hate, it cannot be denied that they are a weird looking creature.

But despite their quirky appearance they are generally harmless, the gray marsupial with a hairless tail can be scary if you are not expecting to encounter one but be assured that they are much more afraid of humans.

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If you find one living in your home then your first thought will always be am I in danger and what should I do to keep myself and the opossum safe whilst it is being removed.

Opossums will hiss when they feel threatened as a defense mechanism, giving you the illusion that they will attack you, but that is only in appearance. 

They are best treated as what they are, a wild animal. Do not go up to one expecting to make friends with it and definitely do not give it a place to stay in your home.

Read on to find all the information you need to know about possums and just how dangerous they are.

What Is An Opossum

The opossum is the only marsupial living in North America. The opossums located in the United States are around the size of a domestic cat.

They have some dull, gray fur with a long snout and paws, their hairless tails are able to grab and carry some smaller objects like a monkey just not as maneuverable. 

They are scavengers and will eat anything that they can get their little paws on. Being omnivores means they can and will grab any and all types of food as well as dead animals such as small animals like mice or insects.

Some of their favorite foods are mice, snakes, rats, eggs, chicks, pet food, frogs and dead animals.

They definitely are not clean animals as you can tell by their diet so if you have one living in your home then be aware that there likely will be scraps of dead animals left behind. 

So you may be wondering now you know all about the opossum. You may be wondering about where they live and can be found if you do believe that you have one in your home.

Where Can You Find Them

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When free and in the wild opossums will live in wooded areas that are near water, these areas will mainly be swamps or streams.

Their adaptability allows them to thrive pretty much anywhere, they are in their element in urban and suburban neighborhoods and can comfortably live amongst humans.

Opossums (Also check out Are Opossums Rodents?) will not build dens so they are always on the lookout for a new home and yours makes the ideal nesting place for them to live and raise some young.

If you believe that you have an opossum (Also check out How To Attract Opossums) living in your home then the places to check are your porch, stairs, attic, garage and especially piles of wood you have around your property. 

Should They Be Left Alone

We know that they love to eat small animals and insects so is it best to just keep them around?

They do eat ticks which can be a big issue for not only any humans around but also for any pets. Eating ticks drastically reduces your chances of catching Lyme disease from said ticks. 

They will also help balance your local ecosystem by eating rats, mice, snakes and cockroaches who can all wreak havoc on the wildlife in your garden.

Opossums will also by virtue of being scavengers eat any dead creatures that happen to be around your home making them an effective way to remove any carrion from your garden.

So with all these benefits to allowing them to live on your property why do so many seek to remove them? Well that would be because there are some dangers and issues with allowing opossums to thrive in your property.

The Problems With Opossums

Whilst they are not naturally destructive animals they are resourceful and smart when it comes to taking shelter and pursuing food.

They eagerly follow their instincts and this can lead to them damaging property that can include overturning trash cans, raid chicken coops, insulation, and destroy bird feeders. 

Carrying Diseases 

Another reason you would not want an opossum living in your home is due to the likelihood of them carrying diseases being very high. Opossums can carry many diseases that can be passed onto not only us but also our pets. 

Some diseases that they can carry are as follows:

  • Tularemia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Spotted Fever
  • Coccidiosis
  • With their being many many more

They do not carry rabies due to their internal body temperature and very high immunity making it really rare for one to carry the disease but they can play host to small parasites such as fleas who can carry it. 

How To Deter Them

Now that we have covered the issues that they can bring with them, how would you go about preventing them from entering your home and spreading these diseases? Well it can be a lot more simple than you would think.

There are a few simple things you can do to secure your home from a potential lodger. Cover any and all trash cans as well as any other sources of food that are easily accessible.

You can also enlist the help of professionals who deal with opossums but removing all food sources is a sure fire way to prevent them from making your house their home. 

Final Thoughts

So there we have it all you need to know about North America’s only marsupial, how they find places to live and their peculiar diet.

Regardless of whether you find them cute or are truly repulsed by them you should be aware of the dangers that they possess and how you can either remove them or have a home that they show no interest in anyway. 

If you cannot remove them yourself then there are always experts who specialize in the removal of one of the world’s most unique animals.

Olivia Kepner