If you live in the Hamilton or Burlington area, it’s possible that you may have seen a possum or two in your neighbourhood or even near your home. Possums (also called opossums) are strange-looking creatures with white or grey fur and a pointed snout. They are about the size of a large cat, and they are the only marsupial native to North America.
Because of their unusual appearance, many people who come across them are afraid that they are dangerous when, in fact, they are somewhat shy and rather docile creatures. When a possum is threatened, one of the techniques it uses to avoid danger is playing dead by going limp, lowering its heartbeat and secreting a foul-smelling fluid through its anal glands – this is where we get the term “playing possum” from.
Another tactic it might try is to hiss and bare its teeth. And while possums certainly appear to be more dangerous when they are taking this posture, this is usually a bluff.
It is important to note, though, that like almost any animal, a possum will bite back if it is attacked. It is doubtful, however, that a possum will initiate an attack.
What about disease?
Another concern that residents of Hamilton and Burlington might have when they see an opossum is that the animal might be carrying rabies. While it is possible for just about any animal to get rabies, the disease is extremely rare in possums since their body temperature is too low for the rabies virus to thrive.
Possums can and do, however, carry other bacterial diseases, including tuberculosis, spotted fever and tularemia. Additionally, possums could pose a health hazard if they get inside your home and leave behind droppings.
What about children and pets?
As mentioned earlier, it is very unlikely that a possum would ever attack a human or pet, but they will defend themselves if they have to. This is why it is important to teach your children to respect and never harass or try to feed wild animals.
As for pets, a possum is much more likely to be harmed by a dog than the other way around – and since possums and cats are approximately the same size, those animals rarely bother each other.
Should I call a pest removal company to remove a possum?
If you see a possum in your yard, there is generally no need for pest removal service. Not only are possums non-aggressive with humans and pets, but they kill and eat more problematic pests such as ticks and rats. In fact, it is estimated that each possum will eat up to 5000 ticks per year. So, if you do see a possum near your property, just relax and enjoy watching this peaceful animal from your deck or from inside your window.
If a possum makes its home inside your Hamilton or Burlington home or shed, however, that is a different story. In that case, contact Habitat Wildlife Control to have the animal safely and humanely removed.