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Possums are not creates well known for their
over-aggressive nature. In fact, the possum has a
totally different defense mechanism on its side -
the art of “playing dead”. When cornered or
attacked, the possum will often quite literally
roll over and play dead, in a bid to confuse the
attacking predator enough to drop the possum, and
then give it a chance to then run away. If this
tactic doesn’t work, however, then possum has no
choice but to attack. It has sharp teeth and claws
which it will use to its advantage. And when we
say teeth, it has about fifty of them, and they’re
all razor-sharp. They will make light work of most
materials human and animal flesh included.
There is good news though. Possums are not known
to carry the rabies virus. It is thought that the
virus needs a much higher body temperature than
what the possum has, and that rabies cannot be
present. You should still proceed with caution,
because although rare, the animal DOES have the
potential to carry and transmit the infection.
Out of the two types of possum that you are likely
to come across, the ringtail possums are the least
likely to bite you. Brushtail possums are much
more aggressive usually, and are much more easily
drawn into battle.
If you, a member of your family, or a household
pet has been bitten by a possum, despite the
rarity of rabies transmission, we still recommend
you take yourself to a doctor. The wound will nee
to be washed thoroughly, and cleaned too. If it is
deep or continues to bleed, you may require
stitches. Like we said, the possum has 50 of those
teeth and they are probably going to cause some
At home, wash the wound immediately. You shouldn’t
use soap with any alcohol or fragrance in it, but
just warm water and soap. Once clean and dry, you
should apply an antiseptic to the wound. As with
any animal bites, you will need to keep a close
eye on your wound to make sure that it doesn’t get
infected. Although possums are relatively clean
animals, with a mouth not known to have an
environment in which bad bacteria can thrive, they
are still wild animals. They are hardly the most
hygienic creatures on the block.
You may need antibiotics if you are bitten by a
wild animal, and the will be to help fight any
potential infection. In some rare cases, a disease
known as Tularemia, caused by bacteria, can start
to materialize, and this will be another problem
that needs antibiotics to get it resolved.
Although rare, it makes sense to know of the
symptoms if you have been bitten by a possum. They
will include an infection present around the bite
that doesn’t go away, as well as infections
starting to show in the lymph nodes also. Although
it sounds quite frightening, antibiotics will
generally clear the problem up, but this is only
when the condition has been correctly diagnosed by
a medical professional.
There are many risks to coming in close contact
with wild animals, and particularly scavengers
such as possums. Although rabies is generally not
a cause of concern for this critter, there are a
number of other things you will need to worry
about, and a small wound could end up being the
least of your problems.
For more information, you may want
to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
much does opossum removal cost?
- get the
lowdown on prices.
to get rid of opossums
- my main opossum
removal info guide.
opossum trapping photographs
- learn from great examples of
opossum jobs I've done.