Do Possums Carry Rabies?

August 18, 2021

Possums are small mammals the size of house cats. They are grey in colour but with a white face and have short legs, a pointed nose, and a long tail. Possums are expert climbers and use their flexible tails for balance and support as they climb. They are usually active at night, thanks to their excellent night vision. During the day, they spend time in hollow trees, brush piles, and spaces under structures. When threatened, possums act lifeless by lying motionless on their side (feet clenched, tongue hanging out, mouth and eyes wide open) and releasing a green secretion from their anus that smells like a rotten carcass.

Are Possums Blind?

Many people think that possums are blind, which is flat-out wrong. Possums are not blind even though they move sluggishly. They have eyes with dilated pupils that enable them to see in the dark.

Are Possums Dangerous?

Although possums are not that destructive, you should not entertain them in your home. They are still considered dangerous because they can:

  • Eat Plants – Possums help eliminate pests in your garden. But they can mess up by eating your fruits and vegetables or trampling over your crops.
  • Attack Pets – Possums play dead when threatened. If that does not do the trick, they defend themselves by biting. Thus, they can injure your kids and pets if a brawl occurs.
  • Kill Chickens – Possums do eat chickens and their eggs, especially when other food sources are scarce.

Can Possums Get Rabies?

The big question is, do possums get rabies and even transmit it? Any mammal can get rabies, and possums are no exception. But possums are at low risk of contracting rabies because of their low body temperature, making it hard for the rabies virus to thrive.

Diseases Transmitted By Possums

While it is unlikely for possums to transmit rabies, they are known disease carriers. Their bodies harbour germs and pathogens that can cause illnesses. Leptospirosis is one of the diseases transmitted through the urine or other body fluids of infected possums. The disease is harmful to both pets and humans. Possums are also linked to various other sicknesses. These include tuberculosis, tularemia, toxoplasmosis, Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis), relapsing fever, and spotted fever. Besides, they are infested with parasites like lice, fleas, mites, and ticks that are disease spreaders.

Possums In Residential Homes

Possums tend to be opportunists. That is why they invade homes despite them belonging in the woodlands. When you find a possum in your home, note that it is just stopping by to get a meal. Possums love eating cat food and rummaging through garbage. Once they have eaten to their fill, they will leave. But if it is cold outside or breeding season, they will seek shelter in your residence, especially in the attic and under the deck. They can stay there for months if food is readily available. Though possums are troublesome, they are beneficial in eliminating pests like slugs and small rodents.

Signs Of Possum Invasion In Your Home

  • Structure Damage – Possums enter buildings by climbing up the siding. Therefore, you will notice exterior damage first. Typical damages include a ripped soffit and torn-up roof shingles. Also, check the eaves and gutter system for damage.
  • Pet Food Disappearance – Possums get attracted to pet food. The chances of possum presence in your home are high if cat food keeps disappearing.
  • Animal Sounds – Possums have multiple vocalisations, including shrieking and hissing. Females make a clicking or lip-smacking sound as they call their babies. When you hear such sounds around your home, inspect for possible possum presence.
  • Unpleasant SmellsAn outright sign of possum invasion is the smell. Possums defecate more than any other mammal. And their faeces are larger than those of a cat. The wet droppings soak into building insulation materials leading to an unpleasant smell in your house.

Getting Rid Of Possums

When you find possums in your yard, the best thing to do is to let them be. Within a day or two, they will move somewhere else. However, if you realise they have made your home a permanent dwelling place, you need to take appropriate measures to remove them. Here are some of the ways to deal with possum infestation:

1. Trapping

Trapping involves capturing an animal with a baited trap. Once the animal is trapped, you release it somewhere safe away from your home. It may take a few days before the possums troubling you get trapped. So, be patient.

2. Home Management

Possums invade homes looking for something to eat, including fruits, veggies, small animals, and animal remains. They also search for a cosy place to inhabit. Identify and remove such things and areas that may attract possums to your home.

3. Repellents

Chemical and natural repellents are pretty effective in keeping possums away from your home. They have properties, mainly scents, that these creatures dislike. Though they offer an instant solution, you have to reapply often for effectiveness. Some readily available repellents to use include garlic, ammonia, spicy peppers, and pet fur. These do not harm possums but discourage them from accessing your home.

4. Professional Wildlife Control

The best alternative is getting in touch with a professional wildlife control service. Professionals are knowledgeable in dealing with problems associated with possum invasion. Their expertise removes the guesswork from possum removal. They work by applying the right strategies and utilising the right products that ensure possums are kept at bay.

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