We have all heard the term “Playing Opossum,” and know that this is where the animal feigns death to attempt to avoid predators. But what are the other ways this creature survives in the wild? Opossums are extremely resilient pests and can be a big problem for homeowners.
Opossums have a very strong immunity to the rabies virus. It is about 8 times more likely for a wild dog to be carrying the disease than an opossum. This natural immunity does not mean that they cannot carry it. Any bites or contact with a wild opossum should be treated as if it does have rabies.
It is very difficult for opossums to die from poison. The marsupial produces a very powerful protein called Lethal Toxin-Neutralizing Factor (LTNF); which can neutralize a number of poisons and venoms. Most opossums can survive venomous snake bites from the snakes in our area. In lab studies, this protein has been shown to neutralize the venom of snakes from across the world, as well as a number of other poisons, like ricin. Even some neurotoxins had no effect, quickly being denatured by the protein. This is why many so-called “opossum poisons” for pest control purposes have little to no effect. Removal and relocation tactics are much more effective
With a thumb on each paw and a prehensile tail; these animals are expert climbers. Their tails have such mobility and strength that the animal can hang out of trees with it, or carry grasses or debris for den building.
“Playing Opossum” is usually a last resort for these creatures. They will usually try to run away or make noise. They may belch or growl in an attempt to scare away predators. Urination and defecation can be used defensively, as well.
We specialize in the humane removal of raccoons, rats, squirrels, and other pests in the New York/New Jersey area. For a complete inspection and evaluation please contact us or call us at 718-227-7227 and we will be happy to make an appointment at your convenience.