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Are Possums Aggressive?

By Mildred T Koerner on May 14, 2023

Possums, also known as opossums, are a common sight in many regions of the world.

These small and furry marsupials have an interesting reputation for being both cute and terrifying at the same time.

Some people believe that possums are aggressive creatures that can cause serious harm to humans, while others see them as harmless animals that simply want to be left alone.

As a wildlife biologist with years of experience studying these fascinating creatures, I am often asked whether or not possums are truly aggressive.

The answer is not a simple one, as it depends on a variety of factors including the individual animal's personality, its surroundings, and how it perceives threats.

In this article, we will explore the truth behind possum aggression and help you better understand these unique creatures.

The Biology Of Possums

Have you ever wondered about the biology of possums?

These small, nocturnal creatures have fascinated wildlife experts for years.

Possums are omnivores and their diet consists of insects, fruits, vegetables, and even carrion.

They play an important role in controlling pest populations, especially those that damage agricultural crops.

Possum reproduction is also unique compared to other mammals.

Females can give birth to up to 20 young at once but only a few survive due to intense competition for resources within the mother's pouch.

The newborn possums spend several months nursing before they venture out on their own.

Understanding these biological traits helps us better understand possum behavior and how we can coexist with them in our environment.

Understanding Possum Behavior

Possums are fascinating creatures that often get a bad reputation due to their appearance and scavenging behavior.

However, these marsupials play an important role in many ecosystems as they help clean up dead animals and other organic matter.

As scavengers, possums have adapted to eat almost anything from fruits and insects to small mammals and carrion.

One of the most interesting aspects of possum behavior is their nocturnal nature.

These animals are primarily active at night, which makes them difficult to observe during the day.

This trait helps protect them from predators while also allowing them to scavenge for food without competition from diurnal animals.

Despite being largely solitary creatures, possums can be found living in groups called passels when resources are abundant or during breeding season.

Factors that influence aggression in possums vary depending on the individual animal's experience and surroundings.

Like any wild animal, possums may exhibit aggressive behavior if they feel threatened or cornered.

Additionally, factors such as habitat loss, availability of resources, and human interaction can all impact the level of aggressiveness displayed by a particular possum population.

Understanding these influences can help us better coexist with these unique creatures and appreciate their important role in our environment.

Factors That Influence Aggression In Possums

Understanding Possum Behavior is crucial when it comes to assessing their level of aggression.

While possums are generally not aggressive, they can become quite defensive if they feel threatened or cornered.

It's important to remember that these animals are nocturnal and typically avoid human interaction.

However, if you encounter a possum during the day, chances are something may be wrong with them.

Several factors can influence the level of aggression in possums such as environment and diet.

For example, urbanization has led to increased encounters between humans and wildlife which could trigger a response from possums leading to an attack.

Additionally, possums that have access to human food may become more territorial resulting in confrontations with people or other animals.

Understanding how these behaviors manifest is critical for avoiding potential problems with aggressive possums.

How To Avoid Possum Attacks

Possums are not typically aggressive toward humans. In fact, they tend to avoid confrontation and will often play dead when threatened.

However, it is important to be aware of their territoriality and foraging habits in order to avoid potential conflicts.

One common misconception about possums is that they are pests.

While they may occasionally cause damage to gardens or property, they primarily feed on insects, small animals, and carrion - making them an important part of the ecosystem.

Another misconception is that possums are carriers of disease.

While they can carry certain diseases like any other wild animal, there is no evidence suggesting that they pose a significant threat to human health.

To minimize the likelihood of encountering an agitated possum, it's best to avoid approaching or cornering them.

If you do find yourself in close proximity to one, give it plenty of space and allow it room to move away.

By understanding these basic behaviors and misconceptions surrounding possums, we can coexist peacefully with these unique creatures.

The next section will discuss some practical tips for doing just that.

Coexisting With Possums: Tips For Humans

Now that you know how to avoid possum attacks, let's talk about coexisting with these fascinating creatures.

Possums are generally not aggressive animals and usually only attack in self-defense when they feel threatened.

So if you come across a possum, it is best to give them their space and avoid provoking them.

One way to peacefully coexist with possums is by implementing possum-proofing measures around your home.

This includes securing garbage cans, sealing off entry points into your house or shed, and covering any potential food sources like fruit trees or compost piles.

Additionally, consider creating a possum-friendly garden by planting native vegetation that provides shelter and food for these marsupials.

With some effort and patience, you can create an environment where both humans and possums can thrive together.


As a wildlife expert, I can confirm that possums are not inherently aggressive animals.

In fact, they are more likely to play dead or flee than attack humans or other animals.

However, there are certain factors that may trigger defensive behavior in possums.

For example, if a possum feels threatened by a human or animal invading its territory or threatening its young, it may display aggression as a means of self-defense.

But with the right knowledge and precautions, humans can coexist peacefully with these fascinating creatures.

So don't be fooled by their reputation – possums are just trying to survive like any other wild animal.



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