The opossum, often simply called possum, may look like a giant rat and may sometimes act like one, but it is a phenomenally special creature that is of great benefit to human kind. Does that sound a bit far-fetched? It might, but read on so you can decide if their occasional garbage can invasions are worth the trouble.
The only Marsupial in the U.S.
Being the only marsupial in the U.S. and Canada, the amazing animal deserves a lot more credit than it gets. First of all, the female gives birth to up to 20 joeys in a litter. They can be as small as honeybees when they are born. After their short 12 days of gestation, the shortest of any mammal, they have to crawl into their mom’s pouch. Those that survive the trip will spend 100 days nursing inside mom’s fur lined pouch before they begin venturing out, sometimes riding on mom’s back as she hunts for food.
Immune to venom
Another remarkable trait of the opossum is it’s immunity to various toxins, venom and stings from honeybees, scorpions, rattlesnakes and even botulism. They will eat just about anything, garden vegetables and the insects in the garden, snails, nuts, garbage, eggs, birds, mice, insects – the list goes on. They are known to be attracted to meat and will often be spotted munching on and being at risk for becoming road kill.
Eliminating 4,000 ticks per week
While the opossum’ reproductive traits, immunity to poison and eat anything diet may not have impressed you this far, its ability to devour ticks might just do the trick. Ticks love to try and feed on opossums. The average opossum walking through the woods can have up to 200 ticks on it at a time. Only 3.5% of these ticks survive the feeding attempt. It is estimated that a single opossum might kill up to 4,000 ticks in a single week.
It turns out these “ugly” marsupials are fantastic groomers. As they chew and lick at their fur they are “hoovering up ticks right and left, killing over 90% of these things.” By eating ticks, including those that carry Lyme Disease, I would say if they get in your garbage on occasion it is way worth it.
Short but valuable life
Opossums live short lives, few survive more than a year due to various factors such as becoming road kill themselves as well as being food for various predators such as coyotes. There main defense mechanism, playing dead, may do them more harm than good. Opossums generally like living near neighborhoods where it is warmer, there are more food sources and great places to make dens. The best thing you can do to keep them around is to not actively try to remove them from your property and keep an eye out for them when they are feasting on a flattened road-side delicacy.
Here at Mosquito Squad of Central Mass our traditional barrier spray eliminates 90% of ticks in your yard. Between Hoover the Opossum and Dread Skeeter of Mosquito Squad I’d say we’ve got your yard covered.
After the opossums do their work, Mosquito Squad of Leominster is your best tick control weapon. Our traditional barrier spray eliminates ticks on contact. With the addition of tick tubes we can lower the populations of ticks in your yard by 85-90% catching the ticks that your neighborhood possum buddy leaves behind. Contact us to sign up today by giving us a call