Often maligned and misunderstood, opossums play many important roles in their ecosystems.

Although some people shortsightedly write them off as pests, opossums are gentle, shy creatures who generally clean up messes rather than make them. These small marsupials eat slugs, insects, snails and other critters, keeping those populations in check. A single opossum can eat 5,000 ticks in a single season—that’s some serious pest control!

Steinthor
/
iStock.com
Rather than settle in one location, opossums are nomads.

These transient critters spend just a few days in a single den site before moving on in search of food. They mostly travel at night—watch for their glowing eyes when you’re driving in the dark.

lillybell
/
iStock.com
Did you know?

Opossums are extremely resistant to rabies. If you see an opossum who’s hissing, drooling or swaying, don’t panic and assume they're rabid! Opossums use these bluff behaviors—along with playing dead—to outsmart potential predators. In fact, opossums are much less likely to carry rabies than raccoons, bats and other small mammals.

Bird in birdbath, enjoying a humane backyard

No matter how big or small your outdoor space, you can create a haven for local wildlife. By providing basic needs like water, food and shelter, you can make a difference in your own backyard.

ebettini / iStock.com