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!

baby opossum in a tree
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.

mother opossum with kits crossing the road
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.

Two deer in a field

Every day, more and more wildlife habitats are lost to the spread of development. Your gift can help create more humane backyards to protect all animals. 

John Harrison