Opossums are the only marsupial found in North America. They are approximately the size of a large cat, with medium-long, brown or gray fur and a long, scaly tail. Opossums can also give off a strong, musk-like odor.
|Color||Coat is dull grayish brown & a white face|
|Shape||Long haired with scaly (prehensile) tail|
|Size||Head & Body length 15″ to 20″, Weight – 9 to 13 pounds but can range from 4 to 30 pounds|
Are Opossums Dangerous?
Opossums are mostly docile, aloof and rarely dangerous. When faced with a threat, opossums will often play dead by “playing possum.
Rabies is extremely rare in opossums, as their body temperature is too low for the virus to thrive. Opossums can, however, carry other diseases like tularemia, tuberculosis, spotted fever and toxoplasmosis.
What Do Opossums Like to Eat?
Opossums are omnivores who prefer to set up camp near readily available food sources. Opossums like to eat a wide variety of foods, ranging from fruits, grasses, insects, mammals, birds, fish and even carrion. Opossums also have a knack for keeping rats and roaches at bay since they commonly compete for the same territory.
Opossums are estimated to eat 5,000 ticks every tick season, making them a powerful ally in combatting tickborne diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Are Opossums Blind?
Opossums are not blind, despite being generally sluggish and slow-moving creatures. They actually have strongly dilated pupils that allow them to see well in the dark.
Opossums are nocturnal, typically hunting for food at night and seeking shelter in hollow logs and trees, crawl spaces beneath structures, garages, abandoned woodchuck burrows and even squirrel’s nests during the day.
Are Opossums Good Pets?
While opossums are typically non-aggressive and can even be docile, they do not make good pets due to their highly specific dietary needs. It is extremely difficult to find the right balance in their diet in captivity and an unbalanced diet can result in severe metabolic disease.
Additionally, it is illegal to keep an opossum without a wildlife rehabilitation license in almost every, U.S. state.
Do Opossums Carry Their Babies?
Opossum babies, called joeys, are about the size of jelly beans when they are born. Once born, they crawl into the mother’s pouch to continue developing. As the joeys grow older, the mother will carry them on her back for about 100 days until they are mature enough to strike out on their own.
By performing exclusion methods, opossums can be prevented from entering structures. Exclusion methods entail using metal flashing and metal mesh to cover any and all possible entry routes, or in some cases by reconstructing entry areas altogether. Covering garbage cans and other readily available sources of food can also curb opossum populations. If you have dealt with an infestation in the past or live in an area where opossums and other wildlife are prevalent, you may consider enlisting professional prevention services. Learn more about our complete wildlife control services.
Signs of an Opossum Infestation
Opossums are most often found when digging in trashcans and rustling around attics. Signs of their activity can also be detected in lawn damage where opossums have dug around for grubs and other bugs. If you hear a rustling in your garbage cans or notice any unusual activity, seek a professional wildlife inspection. You can contact us for a free home inspection anytime using the form below.
Our proprietary process, the STEPS® Total Protection System™, looks closely at the total picture, top to bottom, inside and out. We carefully conduct a home pest inspection of your property looking for potential entry points and signs of pest activity that are often difficult to detect. This comprehensive pest and termite inspection is the only way to determine the real root of a pest problem, as well as the best way to solve it.
For a no obligation free pest control quote for your home, please complete the form below. We’ll take it from there. One of our trained professionals will contact you upon receiving your request and set up a date and time that is convenient for you. Thank you for your interest in our free home pest inspection.
13 Things Possums Like To Eat Most (Diet, Care & Feeding Tips)
The possum comprises a group of marsupials that live in Australia, Sulawesi, and New Guinea. There are approximately 70 different species of true possums that are recognized by researchers.
Depending on the species, possums are usually herbivorous or omnivorous. Their various diets include fruits, flowers, insects, nuts, and more.
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Possums’ Habits and Biology
While possums are generally regarded as rodents and pests, they are quite useful to have nearby. Here, we will explore some facts about possums that make them suitable pets.
They Are Not Picky Eaters
They eat almost anything including animals struck by vehicles; everything to the bone. This means that they very efficiently manage waste. They also eat garden pests such as slugs, beetles, and cockroaches. Possums are very resourceful and can fend for themselves. They are scavengers by nature and can eat anything from lizards to berries.
Possums have been around for millions of years. They are one of the oldest living mammal species. They have survived for over 70 million years on our planet. This is why they are often referred to as living fossils. They showcase incredible resilience.
They Are Not Destructive Animals
While in neighborhoods, they do not destroy lawns or property. Dr. Karen Becker explains that if you simply leave a door open and remove any food that might draw them in, they eventually move on without disrupting your home and belongings.
They Eliminate Ticks
According to statistics by the National Wildlife Federation, one possum can potentially kill 4000 ticks in a week. This is due to their vigorous self-grooming methods.
They either crash or consume the ticks burrowing in their fur. They are not susceptible to Lyme disease and can therefore protect humans from the same. This makes them a suitable pet to keep.
They Are Not Aggressive
Even when they are baring their teeth, they never outright attack. They will use the infamous ‘playing possum’ technique to appear dead when confronted with a predator hence avoiding an actual fight. They can stay zoned out for hours and emit a foul smell to keep other predators away.
They Can Be Used To Control Snakes
Possums are not susceptible to most snake venom. They are known to eat some snakes and this can help in snake control in the area.
They Scarcely Have Rabies
Possums are almost completely immune to contracting rabies or passing it along. According to Dr. Karen Becker, this is because their natural body temperature is too low to maintain hosting the virus.
What Do Possums Like To Eat Most?
- Nearly all possums are omnivorous. They survive by eating a variety of foods. Their primary sources of nourishment include small rodents, insects, worms, slugs and snails, frogs, and birds
- They also eat vegetables, berries, nuts, fruits, garbage, pet food, and birdseed
- Possums are scavengers and will eat just about anything. They are attracted by overflowing and odorous trash cans, uncovered compost heaps, or other containers you may keep outside
- Possums aren’t particularly picky eaters but they can be lured by fish or apples as bait. Pet food can also work well in luring them
- They also like sweet things. Fresh fruit, pieces of apple, jam, and peanut butter can be used to lure in possums
- Some possums feed on birds’ eggs, insects, chicks, and small vertebrates has the most generalized diet of all possums. It prefers to feed on plants’ matter
- The Australian mistletoe is the most favorite food of the brushtail possum
- Possums can also eat highly toxic leaves. They are known to have a high tolerance for venom
- For the mountain pygmy possums, their diet consists of up to 30% of begong moth. It supplements its diet with seeds, buds, and fruits. They also consume mountain plum wine, snow beard heaths, and fruit-bearing confiner
- The Tasmanian pygmy possum largely eats pollen and nectar from eucalyptus and melaleuca. It also feeds on insects. It is thought to play a vital role in pollination
- The northern brushtail possum is likely to feed on leaves, seeds, flowers, fruits, and many others. They are most likely to be found in near urban areas mainly because their primary foods are found in gardens
- For domestic possums, some of the best things to feed them are high protein low-fat foods. They like to munch on dry foods like kibble, fruits, and certain vegetables. They can also eat cooked foods
Foods to Avoid Feeding To Possums
- For brushtail possums, human food is not natural and can make them sick. Brushtail possums are relatively small compared to humans, so even small portions of human food can be very unhealthy for them
- Completely avoid food such as bread, cake and biscuits, raw meat, and cooked bones. Some food may cause life-threatening illnesses and raw meat can give them parasites such as Toxoplasma Gondii. Cooked bones do not digest properly
- Possum joeys should never be fed regular cow’s milk as the lactose will cause diarrhea, slow their growth, and may cause death
- Possums should not be fed almonds, cheese, onions, dairy products, green potatoes, and junk food
- Any food that is supplemented with pure forms of vitamin A and D or calcium in the absence of known deficiency is dangerous for the omnivorous possum.
- Any diet that includes any meat or protein products except in very restricted amounts is dangerous to the possum
- Excessive amounts of naturally sourced vitamin A or D is also dangerous and not recommended.
- Canned cat food, chicken or other meats, eggs, kitten chow, dog chow, excessive amounts of apple sauce, human baby cereals, or foods should not be fed to possums
- Large quantities of fruit can also make possums sick
- It is not advised to give chlorinated water to possums
Tips for Feeding Possums
It is not advised to feed possums regularly. When possums have to forage for themselves and only get a small amount from you, it ensures they maintain a more balanced diet. The natural mixture of food for possums is predominantly native leaves with some flowers and small amounts of fruits and insects.
They eat a very wide range of food. If you provide a good supply of tasty food, they get lazy and just wait on you to feed them. Possums may begin to start fights as you are tempting other possums to enter the territory of those who visit yours.
Possums will defend their territory for their family group. The fights will lead to injuries which will lead to skin disease. The skin disease exudative dermatitis gets into skin damaged by fighting and can result in very serious infections even leading to death.
If you are taking care of orphaned possums, it is important to have fresh water available for them at all times. Also, feed them soy milk or a formula recommended by a vet. Feed the possum babies with a dropper dripping the liquid straight into their mouths.
It is possible that small snakes can supplement a possum’s diet. This, however, is not a recommended method of feeding possums. Possums have also been known to eat other possums. This is not a usual occurrence in the wild, however, in confined places, when a healthy possum is placed with a dying possum, the healthy one will eat the dying possum.
1. What is a possum’s diet?
A possum’s diet consists mainly of fruits, flowers, nuts, birdseed, nectar, pollen, invertebrates, rodents, snails and slugs, worms, insects, and some small animals.
2. What do you feed baby possums?
Baby possums stay in their mother’s pouch for 80 days after they are born and are the size of honey bees. You can feed them cockroaches, snails, slugs, and worms. Snails being their favorite. If you are feeding orphaned baby possums, feed them diluted formula.
3. Are possums edible?
Yes, possums are edible although it is not a very common delicacy. They are made as a stew by some people.
4. Will possums eat rat bait?
Yes, they can eat rat bait and will almost definitely die.
5. What is a possum’s favorite food?
Possums like to munch on vegetables and fruits. They like sweet things but should not eat them in excess. They eat almost anything. Fish and apples are attractive to them.
6. Should I feed a brushtail possum?
It is not recommended to feed brushtail possums. This can lead to nutritional imbalances, an increase in the spread of diseases, and a negative influence on their behavior. Lack of knowledge on what to feed can lead to obesity or even death.
7. What do you feed wild possums?
Wild possums typically feed on berries, nuts, seeds, vegetables, small animals, nectar, rodents, insects, worms, slugs, snails, and other common possum foods.
8. Do possums eat cats?
Yes. They can eat cats but only if they are easy prey. Possums are more threatened by cats and dogs. Some homeowners go as far as placing cat hair and dog hair around their compound to prevent possums from making a home out of their houses.
9. What attracts possums to your yard?
Possums are attracted to overflowing odorous trash cans, exposed compost heaps, and other containers you may keep outside.
10. Can you feed possums bananas?
Possums can eat bananas when they are old enough, but should not be fed too many fruits. Baby possums can eat mashed bananas.
Opossums are the only marsupial found in North America. They live in many parts of the U nited States with the exception of the Rockies, western plains and parts of the northern region. Opossums usually live alone and are only active at night. Though a relative of the kangaroo, opossums are much slower and produce a nauseating smell when threatened. These wild animals are able to survive in a wide range of conditions and locations by virtue of their flexibl e diets and reproductive habits . If you are dealing with an infestati on, opossum removal should be handled by a professional.
Long and pointed face with round, hairless ears and rat-like tail
Up to 40 inches in length, generally about the size of a house cat
Found in eastern, central and west coast regions of the U.S.
Opossums grow up to 40 inches in length, about the size of a house cat. Their bodies are covered in white or grayish hair . Opossums have a long, pointed face with round, hairless ears and a rat-like tail. Additionally, females have a pouch on their stomach for holding newborns.
Opossum vs. Possum
Although the average person may use the terms “opossum” and “possum” interchangeably, they are different . An opossum is a white and gray marsupial that is found primarily in North America. In contrast, a possum is the name used to describe a marsupial found in Australia, New Zealand and China that is similar in appearance to an opossum. Their name derive s from the term “opossum.”
Photo of an opossum in a tree
Photo of an opossum in the snow
Photo of a mother opossum with her babies
Photo of a baby opossum in a tree
In order to prevent an opossum from taking up shelter in a residence , homeowners should store trash in sealed receptacles with animal-proof lids, preferably in a locked shed or outhouse . It’s good practice to b ring pet food dishes inside at night to avoid attracting opossums and other nuisance wildlife. Homeowners should also re move other obvious sources of food and shelter from the property, such as fallen berries and fruits, as well as woodpiles and logs. On a nice day, Inspect the outside of the home for holes and access points, such as broken vent covers. To further limit opossum accessibility to a home, tree branches hanging near roofing should be trimmed, as opossums are skilled climbers and leapers.
Wild animals pose serious health risks like physical attacks that cause bodily harm and the transmission of rabies. For more information on nuisance wildlife, check out the wildlife pest guides.
Find a Pest Control Professional
If you suspect an opossum infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest control professional to conduct an inspection and work with you to develop an opossum treatment plan. Opossum r emoval techniques such as traps and fencing may be used . A professional can also provide more helpful opossum facts that can help prevent future infestations.
Opossums are nocturnal creatures, meaning that they are mainly active after dark. Known as solitary animals, they usually live alone when they are not actively breeding. Though preferring to travel by land, opossums are also skilled swimmers and can use their opposable rear thumbs and long tails to effectively climb trees and other structures.
Opossums generally eat fruit, grains and insects, but will also eat out of compost piles, garbage cans and pet food dishes if they can get access. They have been known to eat fish, birds and mammals as well.
Opossums usually have two to three litters per year, with an average of seven young in each litter. Like other marsupials, the young spend their first several weeks of life in their mother’s pouch. After this time period, young opossums will leave their mothers in search of their own home.
Opossums will seek out existing structures such as garages, hollow logs , tree cavities, brush piles or burrows of other animals when looking for a home. They prefer envi ronments near streams or swamps but can also live in diverse areas, ranging from arid to moist, wooded to open fields. O possums prefer a home with close proximity to food and water.
Opossums sometimes den in attics and garages where they may construct a messy nest. They can also tear ductwork or insulation if they gain access to the interior of a household. When digging for food , they can also damage lawns. In fact, opossums have the ability to destroy poultry, game birds and their nests. When startled, opossums can b are their sharp teeth and hiss. In rare cases , opossums may bite if they feel threatened.
Although the lifestyle habits of opossums make them seem like prime hosts for rabies, they rarely contract the disease and are even less likely to transmit it . However, opossums can carry a slew of other diseases, such as leptospirosis, tularemia and tuberculosis to name a few. They may also become infested with fleas and mites, especially in urban areas.
When threatened or harmed, opossums have been known to “play possum” by acting like a dead animal, which may cause an onlooker to think that the opossum is suffering from rabies. They do so by drawing back their lips, baring their teeth, causing saliva to foam around their mouth, and secreting a foul-smelling liquid from their anal glands. Rather than a sign of rabies, this act is an opossum’s natural defense mechanism.
Can You Feed Baby Possums? Here’s What Possums Can and Can’t Eat
If you find a baby possum abandoned on the side of the road somewhere, you probably shouldn’t pick them up before calling animal control. But what happens if you have no choice but to take them home to nurse them back to health? You might find yourself with an adorable conundrum on your hands. You might even find yourself wondering a few things about possum biology and behavior. For instance: can you feed baby possums? Should you feed them? And either way, what do possums eat?
What kind of possum are we talking about?
If you’re from Australia, a possum is a very different animal from the one Americans keep referring to as possums. What we are talking about is the opossum, America’s only marsupial, and one that possesses very few similarities to its Aussie cousin. There are 65 different species of opossum in North America, according to the Opossum Society. The most common of these many marsupials is the Virginia opossum, which is the one we shall focus on today.
Frankly, when it comes to the opossum, the question “what do they eat?” doesn’t really seem appropriate. It might be more appropriate to ask “what don’t they eat?” Opossums have always had a bit of a bad reputation among suburban residents for being scavengers — which, of course, they are. But that doesn’t mean we should hold it against them. Especially because their versatile diets actually help us get rid of carrion (decaying dead animal bodies).
According to pest control company Terminix, opossums eat everything from dead animals to insects, rodents, birds, frogs, plants, fruit, and grain. They don’t just feed on the flesh of carrion or roadkill either. Possum diets require a high degree of calcium, which they can get from eating the skeletal remains of rodents and other dead creatures. Opossums will also eat cat food, dog food, and table scraps from our garbage cans. Unfortunately, it is this “taste for trash” that makes them more of a pest than a helper in the eyes of many.
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