7 Little-Known Facts About Houston's Fascinating Opossums
Close up picture of a Opossum

7 Little-Known Facts About Houston's Fascinating Opossums

Do you know what an opossum is? Do you even know how to say opossum? There is a lot of confusion about this marsupial. Here are a few facts you should know about opossums in Texas.

Fact #1 — Opossums Are The Only Marsupials In North America

Why is there so much confusion about opossums? It is partly due to the fact that opossums and possums are similar animals. But we have no possums in North America. In fact, we only have one marsupial that is endemic here. It is the opossum, which is pronounced /əˈpɒsəm. There are several dozen species of opossums in North America. The most noteworthy species is the Virginia opossum. That is the species of opossum we deal with here in Texas.

Fact #2 — They Only Look Scary

Opossums are docile animals that are rarely dangerous. While they have sharp, scary teeth that they will bare at you when you get too close, those teeth are mostly for show. It is wise, however, to use caution. Opossums are wild animals, and they can bite you if they feel threatened.

Fact #3 — An Opossum Plays Possum

You've probably heard the phrase "playin' possum." While opossums aren't possums, they do pretend to act like they're dead. This is known as thanatosis, and opossums aren't the only animals in North America that display this behavior. We have snakes, frogs, spiders, fish, and other animals that do this. If you find an opossum that looks dead, be aware that it might just be pretending.

Fact #4 — Opossums Have A Strong Immune System

Among animals that can carry rabies, opossums are eight times less likely to have this disease. They're also amazingly immune to the venom of snakes, such as the cottonmouth and the rattlesnake.

They do, however, contract diseases. They are known to carry leptospirosis, tuberculosis, tularemia, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis, Chagas disease and many more. This makes them a reservoir for diseases, which can be spread by the ticks and fleas that they carry into your yard.  

Fact #5 — Opossums Can Be Beneficial (When Properly Managed)

When opossums live near your property, they can be a benefit. They can eat harmful pests like poisonous spiders, and poisonous snakes. But it is important to understand that they won't eat ALL of them.

Fact #6 — Why Opossums Are Pests

The Virginia opossum is also referred to as the "common" opossum. This is a name it has earned. They are common pests, and they are one of several animals you don't want to see in your backyard. While they eat insects, spiders, and snakes, there are far too many problems they can cause.

  • They get into trash and sometimes are unable to get back out. They also tip receptacles over and spread trash around.
  • They feed on fruits, berries, and nuts, which can damage your plants.
  • They leave their feces on decks and porches.
  • They're known to bite dogs and cats to defend themselves.
  • They bring ticks and fleas into your yard and these parasites have a higher incidence of diseases.

Fact #7 — Wildlife Control Is The Best Solution For Opossums

The internet is full of tips on how to get rid of opossums, but most of them don't work. This can leave you exposed to the problems listed above. It is also unwise to attempt to capture and remove opossums. While they don't want to bite you, they certainly will if they're scared.

Wildlife Control In Greater Houston

Opossums are fascinating animals, but they shouldn't be welcomed in your backyard. When these animals appear in your yard and seek harborage under structures, remember that Modern Pest Control is always standing by to assist you with your wildlife control needs. Reach out to us for immediate assistance.

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