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Opossums don't really get rabies. Although theoretically any mammal can contract the rabies virus, opossums seem somehow immune to it. It's not really ever documented in the North American Virginia Opossum (the only possum that lives in the USA). This is thought to be because the possum has a below-average body temperature, in which the rabies virus has difficulty thriving.
What if you are bitten by a possum? Possums are sometimes threatening in their appearance, and they look like just giants rats. When they are threatened, they may stand their ground and they may bare their teeth. Opossums are known to be docile and the teeth-bearing is used just for intimidation. When the opossum is faced with danger, it normally plays dead and does not attack.
However, in rare cases the opossum may attack while defending itself. The opossum is about the same size as a cat. It has sharp teeth and claws that may rip open tough skins.
Sometimes the bites are minor, but an infection can take place when the skin has been broken and the bacteria that came from the saliva or the spit of the possum that has bitten you has passed into the bloodstream. The bite may result in swelling, bruising, scrapes, abrasions, lacerations and punctures. The bites are uncomfortable and painful and you need to pay attention to any signs that an infection is developing. The signs that you have an infection include redness, increased tenderness on the area of the bite, and swelling. They may also include discharge on the wound, swollen lymph nodes, and the shivers or getting a high temperature.
You should start by washing the part that had been bitten using tap water. If the wound bleeds, you should cover it using a clean cloth in order to apply pressure on it. With a deep wound, you are exposed to tetanus. Tetanus is a bacterial infection and it is serious since it releases toxins within the blood stream and it may be fatal. If you have been bitten by a possum and the skin has been broken, then you should get a tetanus injection or a tetanus booster injection.
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: I have a possum problem and I'm afraid my dog will get really sick. When I let her out at night and she sees a possum she goes for it. She had gotten 2 in a weeks time. I'm not sure how to get rid of them or where they are coming from. There baby possums. I have lived in the same house for many years and never had a problem like this. My dog just got bit tonight by the possum. I'm very afraid she will get really sick if she keeps trying to get them and my boyfriend and I don't know about it. Is there anything I can do to keep these critters away???
It's doubtful that your dog will contract any illness from the opossum, but if you don't want it there, trap and remove it.
Read more about opossum diseases