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Do opossums attack humans or pets?

Not really. Possums don't deliberately attack. They are very docile. They usually only attack as a last resort, if they are being attacked themselves. Most of the time, when threatened, they play dead! However, any animal is unpredictable, so you can never say never. In some rare cases, possums might attack humans or pets. But they don't really get rabies, (read about opossum rabies) and they aren't really predators, more of scavengers, unless the situation is dire. In the below photo, we see a possum attacking a raccoon, but that's because it felt it had no other choice!



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Are opossums dangerous to cats, dogs, or other pets?

The opossum looks very frightening since it has very sharp teeth and an estimate of 50 teeth. However, it does not cause any harm or pose any threats. It is scared easily, and in some cases, it pretends to be dead in order to avoid a confrontation or fight.

Generally calm animals
The opossum is a clam animal, and this means there are higher chances of not causing any harm. You need not to worry when it comes to confronting them. They tend to run away. However, they create a scary look, which many people tend to fear. However, this does not mean it has the capacity of attacking you. You notice they remain strong when they are in a group, but this is not the case when along. The opossum does not harm the pets, but when they are looking for food, they are known to become aggressive, and they shall scare the pets.

Attack when being defensive
When the opossum is in danger especially with the pets like cats and dogs, it tends to remain defensive. It produces a sharp noise, and enlarges its body as a way of keeping the opponents scared. When fighting with kittens and puppies, there are higher chances it shall bite them. However, they are calm animals unless in very dire situations when they really need to activate their defense mechanisms. However, when in a group, they are known to cause harm especially to farm animals, and pets.

Learn to play dead
Many people think it is a myth but this is reality. The opossums are known to play dead when you approach them, or when they sense danger. You will find that they remain paralyzed when they sense they cannot win the war, or in fright. When they do so, you think they are dead. In many cases, they do this:
  • When they sense danger
  • To avoid fights
  • Natural instinct
  • Stay in the paralysis state for long
These are proven tactics that the opossums use. You will need to know that when you find the opossum in such a state, there are chances it is not dead, you simply need to wait for some few minutes, and they resuscitate.

Use animal control
It proves hard for many people to eliminate the opossum from the attic, and they are known to chew through timber and remain in one place for long. You can opt to use the traps, and poisons. However, the best way of dealing with the opossum is by investing in animal control. The professionals know the correct way of handling them, and eliminate them from homes and farms. They also conduct a check to know all the entry points of the opossums.

After you read the above information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does opossum removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of opossums - my main opossum removal info guide.
Example opossum trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Opossum job blog - learn from great examples of opossum jobs I've done.

Reader Email: Hi, I live in the Los Angeles area (Pasadena), and I keep a few pet hens. I dearly love each of them, and was absolutely heartsick Tuesday morning when I discovered that I had forgotten to latch their coop the night before and one of them had been killed and eaten. I had been vigilant about raccoons, which I know will kill chickens, but I hadn't thought the possum was a threat, and so even though it had been coming around every night for months, I didn't worry too much. I always lock the chickens in the coop at night as a precaution, but I forgot this one night. I immediately did an Internet search and found that possums DO kill chickens! Then last night I saw him hanging around the chicken coop and I chased him into the corner of the garden, only to discover that he had a buddy with him (somewhat smaller.) The smaller possum escaped, but the big one just huddled there, his back to me. I called for my husband to come, and he brought me a pair of work gloves, and I actually grabbed the possum's tail and carried him to our green waste bin and roped him in for the night. He was huge, and heavy, and strong! He grabbed on to anything he could along the way. Anyway, this morning we took him out to a wooded area about 12 miles away and released him. The days are getting shorter now and I can't be absolutely certain to be home before dark every night to latch the coop. I don't think a possum could catch a chicken while the chicken is awake, but at dusk the chickens put themselves to bed in the coop. They are completely vulnerable while they are sleeping. I have always been a lover of wildlife, and I actually think possums are cute. But I cannot have them around my house anymore. How can I get rid of them and stay rid of them? I know possums are supposed to move on to some other place after a few days, but this one has been coming around every night for months. And now I realize it was not alone. I think they may be living under my house. How do I ascertain their number? Any advice you have would be very much appreciated! Sincerely, Kristin

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