The Kenwood Press|
Living with Wildlife
The awesome opossum
The Virginia Opossum is one of my favorites, so when people tell me they donít like them or are afraid of them, I canít imagine why. These little guys are very beneficial.
They could be given the title of natureís little sanitation engineers, as the omnivorous opossums help maintain a clean and healthy environment by eating carrion and food discarded by man. They are also beneficial to gardens as they eat insects, snails, slugs, mice, and rats. There is not much these nomadic animals donít eat as they meander through life, often with their babies on their back or running beside them. Being opportunists, these nocturnal animals will be attracted to backyards with pet food left out after dark. And you donít have to worry about them killing your cats Ė more than likely you will see both cat and opossum sharing a bowl of food together during the night.
Although I work mostly with raccoons, I have had the pleasure of raising orphaned opossums over the years. Their behaviors are fascinating and I love inspecting their tiny bodies. They have hands with five fingers that are very strong and good at grasping. Their hind feet have an opposable thumb, which is handy for climbing down trees head first. These animals have a very small brain, but when they are born they are totally hard wired to know just what opossums need to know. Some people think they look dirty, but that is probably because their coat color varies from off-white to dark grey. They love water, are very clean, and are constantly grooming themselves just like our cats do.
So, next time you see an opossum, think good thoughts, and send them a thank you as well for doing such a good job of cleaning up our environment. If you are driving, give them a brake!