Foods That Possums Eat
Is it “opossum or possum?” This is always something that people are confused about this particular critter. Nobody really knows how or why the “o” got dropped, but the right term is “opossum.” However, “possum” started appearing in print as far back as 1613 and is considered to be an acceptable name for the only marsupial in North America. Opossums are beneficial for humans in numerous ways, which helps to control many unwanted pests. Even though opossums are nocturnal, nonaggressive creatures and usually are not dangerous; they frequently are nuisances that wreak havoc in your chicken house, raid your well-cared-for garden, set up their home under your porch, and dig in your garbage.
There are over 60 possum species, with the Virginia possum being the most common one. The animal has always been considered to be a dirty scavenger; however, possums also have a couple of positive features as well. For one thing, possums have an incredible ability to locate food and then remember where they found it. They will continue to return to those same food sources again and again. Opossums scored higher in laboratory tests than dogs, cats, rabbits, and rats in being able to remember where food was located. That said, what foods do opossums eat?
The Opossum Diet
The opossum diet is comprised of birds, rodents, insects, and dead animals. They feed as well on grain, fruits, plants, frogs, and eggs. One little known fact regarding the diet of the possum is that they need to have high levels of calcium. Therefore, possums consume the skeletal remains of roadkill animals and rodents readily. Possums, unfortunately, also are known for eating table scraps, cat food, and dog food. It is relatively common to run into a possum who is rummaging through the garbage can. Possums are omnivores and can survive by consuming various foods. Their primary sustenance sources are birds, frogs, snails, slugs, worms, insects, and small rodents. Opossums also eat birdseed, pet food, garbage, fruit, nuts, berries, and vegetables.
Possums are resistant to rabies and carry the disease very rarely. However, sometimes opossum feces carry parasite eggs that might cause horses to become ill if their feces have contaminated water and food. Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reports that a majority of possums do not shed this parasite, and even if horses are exposed, most of them do not contract the disease. The best method for minimizing contamination opportunities is to keep opossums away from the horses’ water and food as well as barns. Possums are also hosts for fleas which carry numerous diseases.
Made for scavenging
So what do opossums like to eat? Opossums will eat almost any source of food that they can find and get access to. Obtaining access to food is usually not a problem due to their feeding habits and anatomical makeup. Opossums have a keen sense of hearing and smell but poor eyesight. At night is when they are most active, and they move about continuously searching for food. Also, they have sharp claws which are used for capturing prey, climbing, and digging. They use their long tails to help them with climbing.
Too young for hunting
Although adults are very well equipped for scavenging for food, newborn possums are tiny and around the same size as a honey bee. Young possums stay inside their mother’s pouch for about 80 days before being old enough to do their own scavenging.
One positive thing is that since slugs, snails, cockroaches, and rodents are part of the opossum’s diet, they can help to reduce the number of those pests. To make sure that opossums and other types of pests are kept under control around your house, call the pest management professional at (company) for your free inspection.
Dangers to Pets and Humans
Generally, opossums do not pose any dangers to animals and humans, although the frequently harass household pets by growling, hissing, and showing their teeth. Fights will break out occasionally, and opossums can use their sharp teeth to inflict serious injuries. However, usually, opossums will protect themselves by emitting a rotten and foul smell while playing dead for up to 45 minutes.