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Are Possums Dangerous? A Closer Look At This Intimidating Animal

Virginia Opossum

Possums look terrifying. If you are afraid of mice or rats, then seeing this animal face to face would be a nightmare. This animal closely resembles a very large rat and it has as much as 50 sharp teeth. This makes the possum look very intimidating and scary. This is why many want to know if it is dangerous.

A lot of people describe the possum’s appearance as ugly, and because they are nocturnal animals, a lot of people will see them unexpectedly at night. When startled, these animals do not automatically “play possum”. Typically, they will hold ground and bare their sharp teeth first, making them look threatening.

Possums are wild animals, with that in mind; you should understand that their primal instincts will play a huge part when it comes to their actions. Knowing what kind of danger this animal poses is very important as possums are known to go inside homes to look for food or into attics to make their nests.

Are Possums Dangerous?

Angry possum in flower pot

Simply put, you should consider the possum as dangerous. The possum’s teeth are there for a reason and they will surely not have any doubts about using them if necessary. Possums in general are not aggressive, and they will focus only on their survival. They are also not known to have a bad temper.

Possums however, can attack humans especially if they feel threatened. Mothers are also known to be overly protective of their young and they will not hesitate to face dangers to keep them from harm. They are also known to be dangerous against dogs and cats as they will bite pets to defend themselves.

Animal experts say that you have to consider how this animal is built and why it needs to fight when dealing with a possum face to face. You should put into consideration that it has teeth meant for biting and tearing flesh, and that it also has claws that can easily tear your skin apart if it needs to.

Most of the time, the possum is placed in an unexpected position where it is scared and it feels that it has to defend its own life in order to survive. This is why you should always keep away from them, and this is also why you should consider hiring professionals if you need to get one out of your home.

When Do They Play Possum?

possum playing dead

Since going toe to toe against humans will only become an option for the possum in dire situations, many zoologists will say that possums are actually docile creatures. That is, they will only attack if they have to and that their teeth bearing display is just only for show to try to scare you away.

In most cases, they will become more than a nuance rather than a threat since they are known to only enter homes to raise their young or to forage. They will also go to coops, or to where you typically feed your pets. And that the most that they will do is to hiss and growl to scare you or your pets away.

And instead of attacking, experts say that the most common reaction that this animal has when it feels threatened is that it will play dead and release an awful odor from its anal glands to deter people or predators from going near them. This is actually where the term “playing possum” comes from.

This is actually done by possums in order to avoid confrontation and in order to trick their enemy by thinking that it has already won against the possum. This can cause confusion in most of its predators, forcing them to go away and leave the possum alone.

Unfortunately, the possum has no control over this ability. Only the possum’s brain can trigger this reaction, paralyzing the animal temporarily. This reaction can also last for a few minutes to a couple of hours. This gives the possum a rather unique way of dealing against large threats.

If They Don’t Normally Attack, Then Why Should I Worry?

baby possum

More than just their capability to attack if necessary, the possum is considered very dangerous because it can carry diseases and parasites. What you should be scared of is not the possum’s sharp fangs, but its excrement and the fleas, ticks and lice that might be living on its fur.

The possum can carry pathogens that can cause leptospirosis, tuberculosis and coccidiosis. The parasites that can be found with the possum can also carry diseases, and they can easily infest your home or your pets especially if the possum lives near your house or in your attic.


Baby Possum in a Tree

Possums are dangerous because they can easily attack humans and pets by biting or scratching them. Although they will typically try to play dead when threatened, the possum does not have the ability to do this voluntarily. You should also consider the fact that they will not hesitate to bite you if needed.

Another reason why possums are dangerous is because they can carry pathogens in their wastes that can cause deadly diseases. They also serve as hosts to parasites that can cause other diseases or easily infest your home and cause problems with the animals living in your home.

If you think that a possum is living in your attic or staying in your property, I highly recommend that you contact a local animal control company. Give the animal ample space so that it will not attack you or your pets. Never allow it to nest in the attic so you can avoid getting the diseases that it can cause.

Have you ever had an unexpected encounter with a possum? Share your experience with us in the comment section.

About the Author Emily Taylor

My name is Emily Taylor, gardening is my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone. I know that there are millions of people out there want their backyard and garden be attractive just like their front yard, so I am here to help you create your own backyard paradise.

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