North American Opossum with its mouth open.
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Do Possums Bite?

Possums have become common in urban and suburban areas, and many people are curious about their behavior and habits. One common questions is whether or not these creatures bite. The answer may surprise you. While possums can bite, it’s rare for them to do so.

They are known for their passive and non-aggressive behavior, with most energy directed towards evading threats. In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into whether possums bite and explore the fascinating world of these curious creatures.

Key Pest Points:

•  Possums are typically calm, non-aggressive animals that won’t harm you or your pets. They may hiss and growl if feeling threatened, but they usually try to avoid conflict.

•  Their bites are roughly one-third as strong as a human’s and far weaker than a domestic dog’s.

What is an Opossum?

Opossums are furry marsupials that are native to North America. They are known for their rat-like appearance with a long pointed snout, round ears, and a hairless prehensile tail that they use for grasping and balancing. Opossums are omnivores who eat almost anything, including small animals, insects, fruits, and vegetables.

They have a lifespan of only 2-4 years and are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active at night. Opossums are considered beneficial to the environment as they help control insect and rodent populations.

Reasons Why Possums Might Get Aggressive

Although possums are generally mild-mannered, they can be quite territorial creatures. They’ll hiss and growl to protect themselves or their young if threatened by predators. 

It’s also common for them to defend food sources when desperate during lean times. These marsupials will fight back against potential competitors with their sharp claws or teeth. 

So, while it isn’t normal for a possum to turn dangerous unless its safety is genuinely threatened, take caution whenever you come across one in nature. They are wild animals, after all. 

Opossum with open mouth and has many teeth.

How Do Possums Defend Themselves?

Possums are often underestimated due to their gentle demeanors. However, these little creatures can become surprisingly aggressive when faced with danger.

They use several strategies to defend themselves from predators — including playing dead and releasing stinky odors from their anal glands as an extra deterrent. These outdoor pests can climb trees and bare sharp teeth for intimidation. 

They may hiss or growl when provoked but won’t usually bite unless they feel cornered. Even if possums bite, their bites are roughly one-third as strong as a human’s and far weaker than a domestic dog’s. So, it’s unlikely to cause any severe damage.

What Diseases Do Possums Carry?

Possums may seem cute, but they can carry dangerous diseases. These include leptospirosis and toxoplasmosis

Leptospirosis can cause fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, abdominal pain, and vomiting. It can also lead to kidney damage or liver failure if left untreated.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by an infectious parasite that poses a particular risk to individuals who come into contact with soil contaminated by animal feces. 

If you see a possum in your yard or neighborhood, it’s best to keep your distance and contact a pest control specialist if necessary.

What To Do if You or Your Pet Are Bitten a Possum?

If you or your pet have been bitten by a possum, don’t panic. You must properly handle the wound like any other animal bite to prevent infection and injury. First aid for a mammal bite should involve washing with soap and water for several minutes and applying an antiseptic solution to the wound area.

Check if medical attention from a doctor is needed based on severity. Rabies vaccinations may also need to be administered in some cases, though it is rare for possums to carry rabies

It’s also wise to contact Animal Control Services within 24 hours. So they can assess whether follow-up action needs to be taken regarding possible community threat levels and provide information about safe wildlife management practices moving forward.

A closeup shot of an open-mouthed opossum.

How to Get Rid of Possums in Your Yard?

Possums are invasive species and can wreak havoc on outdoor spaces. But don’t worry, with a few easy steps and patience, you can be pest-free soon enough. 

  • Remove any existing possum residents using motion-activated lights or loud noises to scare them away.
  • Try blocking off their entry points into piles of brushwood, rocks, or logs so they cannot escape it. This will also provide added incentive for them not to return.
  • Clean up after food scraps regularly helps keep these critters at bay and reduce environmental temptations. This makes it harder for opportunistic feeders like possums to thrive in your yard.
  • Use a humane trap and release the opossums to a distant location at least 5 miles from your property. This will ensure they won’t wander back home again.

If all else fails, contact a wildlife specialist to devise a plan tailored to your situation. 

FAQs

What happens if a possum bites you?

Although opossums typically do not carry rabies, it is still possible for you to contract a bacterial infection and become ill. The bite needs to be adequately cleaned with soap and water. Make sure to apply antiseptic. You should immediately seek medical attention if you experience edema or inflammation.

Will a possum attack you?

They tend to hiss and growl, which might be unsettling if you come across one. But opossum biting attacks are uncommon and unusual.

Does possums bite dog?

Opossums are typically calm, non-aggressive animals that won’t harm your pets. Instead, they like to stay away from conflict. The threatened opossum may “play possum,” flash its teeth, or bite in self-defense like any animal if running away is not an option.

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