Opossums Eat Ticks and Help Stop the Spread of Lyme Disease

Opossums Eat Ticks and Help Stop the Spread of Lyme Disease

The opossum is one of the most misunderstood animals in the United States. We often see them as dimwitted, dirty animals who carry disease and live with only one purpose – to act like roadkill. But, we can’t be further from the truth.

The truth is, this animal is cleaner, smarter, and more beneficial to us than many of their woodland neighbors. They eat 90 percent of the ticks they encounter, including those on their bodies.

They groom themselves as cats do, but only more frequently and thoroughly.

The National Wildlife Federation says that opossums eat more ticks than chipmunks, white-footed mice, catbirds, veeries, and squirrels, with more than 5,000 eaten ticks in a tick season.

They also eat other things you don’t want to have around, like rodent nestlings, snails, cockroaches, and even rattlesnakes. What’s more, they are incredibly resistant to diseases, including the venom of the rattlesnake.

This, along with being gentle creatures makes opossums good neighbors and garden companions to have.

Opossums also eat overripe fruits and vegetables that fall on the ground. That’s why they make an excellent clean-up crew for your garden.

These animals are generally not aggressive, and when attacked they can play dead, secreting a smelly substance to chase the predator away. Aren’t they smart?

The wildlife ecologist with the United States Humane Society, Laura Simon, explains that opossums are one of the oldest species of mammals we have today. They eat insects, grubs, and pretty much everything they can find – including chickens.

So, the only case where you should not want them around is if you raise chickens.

As we all know, the climate changes and other factors make tick populations and diseases they carry, such as Lime disease, spread rapidly. Lyme disease is just one example of a tick-borne illness that’s not only difficult to diagnose but also difficult to treat.

Some health experts believe that there’s a silent epidemic of these diseases. Therefore, they think if we don’t kill these animals and let them go about their business, opossums could help control the spread of these widespread and devastating tick-illnesses.

Here’s one video that explains more about opossums and why you should let them stay in your backyard:

Conclusion

Opossums are definitely not the cutest animal you have seen, but they are one of the most beneficial additions to your backyard.

They clean up any rotten fruit or vegetable in your yard and eat pretty much every tick they encounter, and with that, they help slow the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.

So, we hope we gave you enough reasons not to get rid of any opossum you see in your yard.

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