Opossum

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We have opossum living in our yard but I wouldn't have known that without a nighttime video -- kind of fun to see who is prowling around in the dark.  Here's some fun facts about opossum and why you might be glad to have them.  Info from the Opossum Awareness & Advocacy group.  Opossum have a natural resistance to rabies and help reduce tick populations!  They are also the only North American marsupial.  Do you have them in your neighborhood?  Hope so.

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“Don’t hit opossums if they're playing dead in the road,” said scientist Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.  Ostfield & colleagues tested 6 species — white-footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums and veerys & catbirds — & found that of the 6, opossums were by far the best at eradicating ticks - killing about 5,000 ticks in one season!   The opossum eat the ticks as they groom themselves.  If they miss a tick their bodies are less susceptible to Lyme than other mammals.  

 Photo credit:  Cody Pope

Photo credit:  Cody Pope

In this study, http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/276/1675/3911,  the authors simulate the impact of removing opossums from the environment and show that losing these animals may increase Lyme disease risk.

If you have kids, they might enjoy this article about a mother opossum saving her babies:

https://www.littlethings.com/opossum-mom-saves-babies/

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From the National Wildlife Federation:  Opossums, sometimes referred to just as possums, are a benefit to ecosystems and a healthy environment beyond eradicating ticks.  They will catch and eat cockroaches, rats and mice – in addition to consuming dead animals of all types (also known as carrion). Gardeners appreciate opossums’ appetite for snails, slugs and for cleaning up over-ripe fruit and berries. And, since they are immune to the venom of poisonous serpents, opossums also eat rattlesnakes.

 http://blog.nwf.org/2017/06/opossums-unsung-heroes-in-the-fight-against-ticks-and-lyme-disease/

http://blog.nwf.org/2017/06/opossums-unsung-heroes-in-the-fight-against-ticks-and-lyme-disease/