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Do Possums Attack Dogs?

Do Possums Attack Dogs?

By Mildred T Koerner on May 16, 2023

Possums, also known as opossums, are fascinating creatures that have long been a subject of curiosity among pet owners.

Many dog owners find themselves worried about the safety of their furry companions when they come across possums in their backyard or during walks.

The question on every dog owner's mind is whether possums attack dogs and how to protect them from harm.

As a wildlife expert, I can assure you that possums rarely pose any threat to your beloved pooch.

While they may hiss and show aggression towards dogs if cornered or threatened, these animals generally prefer to play dead rather than engage in physical combat.

Understanding the behavior and habits of possums can help pet owners feel more confident in managing encounters between their dogs and these marsupials.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the topic of whether possums attack dogs and provide tips for keeping both your pets safe during outdoor activities.

The Behavior Of Possums

Possums, also known as opossums, are fascinating creatures that have adapted to nocturnal habits.

These animals are primarily active during the night and prefer to avoid contact with other species.

They have a solitary lifestyle due to their dietary preferences for carrion, insects, fruits, and vegetables.

Despite being scavengers, possums play an essential role in maintaining ecological balance by controlling pests' population.

Their behavior is unique as they tend to hiss or growl when threatened instead of attacking. It's rare for them to attack humans or pets unless provoked or cornered.

Understanding their behavior can help prevent any potential encounters with these intriguing creatures.

In the next section, we'll discuss common encounters between possums and dogs and how to handle such situations effectively.

Common Encounters Between Possums And Dogs

As the famous saying goes, 'opposites attract,' but when it comes to possums and dogs, their interaction dynamics are not always peaceful.

Dogs have been known to chase after possums due to their natural hunting instincts, while possums may show aggression towards dogs as a means of self-defense.

Possums are nocturnal animals, which means they are most active during the night.

This makes them vulnerable during encounters with diurnal (daytime-active) predators like dogs.

In response to danger, possums will often hiss or growl loudly and bare their teeth as a warning signal.

If these signals are ignored by the dog, the possum may resort to biting or scratching in defense.

It's important for pet owners to understand that provoking a scared possum can lead to injury for both the animal and your furry friend.

Reasons possums may show aggression towards dogs vary from situational factors such as feeling threatened or cornered, to territorial disputes over food sources or dens.

As wildlife experts suggest, keeping your pets on leashes during evening walks and avoiding leaving pet food outside at night can reduce the likelihood of negative interactions between dogs and possums.

By respecting each other's space and habits in nature, we can ensure a harmonious coexistence between our domesticated companions and wild neighbors.

Reasons Possums May Show Aggression Towards Dogs

As a wildlife expert, it's important to understand that possums are not naturally aggressive animals.

However, they may show aggression towards dogs in certain situations.

One reason for this is a playful provocation. Possums are curious creatures and may approach dogs out of curiosity or playfulness.

If the dog responds with aggression, the possum may become scared and defend itself.

Another reason possums may show aggression towards dogs is territorial defense.

Possums are nocturnal animals and often come out at night to scavenge for food.

They have small territories around their nests and will defend them against intruders, including other possums as well as dogs.

If a dog enters a possum's territory, it may be seen as a threat and the possum may try to scare it away by showing signs of aggression such as growling or baring its teeth.

To ensure your dog stays safe around possums, there are several tips you can follow.

Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe Around Possums

Possums are one of the most underestimated creatures when it comes to their interaction with dogs.

They may seem harmless, but they can inflict more harm on your furry friend than you think.

Possum attacks on dogs have been reported in many areas, and this is a cause for concern if you're a dog owner.

To keep your pooch safe from possums, possum-proofing should be done around your house.

This includes securing garbage bins and any other food sources that may attract them into your yard.

Additionally, ensure that there are no entry points where they can access your home or kennel area.

A well-secured fence will also help prevent unwanted visitors.

Training techniques such as obedience training and recall training can come in handy during encounters with possums.

Teach your dog basic commands like 'stop' or 'come' to help control their behavior around wildlife.

By following these tips, you'll significantly minimize the chances of an encounter between your dog and a possum.

However, sometimes things don't go according to plan even after taking all precautions and necessary measures to avoid conflicts between dogs and possums; hence seeking professional assistance becomes essential when things get out of hand.

If you notice signs of aggression or injury on either party, seek immediate veterinary attention for emergency care services before things escalate further.

When To Seek Professional Help

As we discussed in the previous section, it is important to take precautions when your dog encounters a possum.

While possums are generally not aggressive and may play dead or run away when confronted by dogs, there have been cases where they have attacked in self-defense.

So what should you do if you suspect that your dog has been injured by a possum?

Firstly, be aware of any signs of injury such as cuts, scratches, or bite marks on your dog's body.

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately.

In addition to seeking professional help for your pet, ensure that safety precautions are taken around your home to prevent further encounters with possums.

This can include securing trash bins and keeping outdoor areas well-lit at night.

By being proactive about safety measures, you can minimize the risk of future conflicts between your pets and local wildlife without causing harm to either party.


In conclusion, possums are generally non-aggressive creatures and will avoid confrontation with other animals, including dogs.

However, there are certain situations in which a possum may feel threatened or cornered enough to show aggression toward a dog.

It is important for pet owners to be aware of these potential encounters and take steps to prevent their dogs from getting injured.

As a wildlife expert, I cannot stress enough the importance of being mindful of your surroundings when walking your dog at night or in areas where possums are known to inhabit.

Keeping your dog on a leash and avoiding direct contact with possums can go a long way in preventing any unwanted confrontations.

Remember, while rare, it is always better to err on the side of caution when dealing with wild animals.

So ask yourself: am I taking all necessary precautions to keep my furry friend safe?


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