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What Diseases Do Possums Carry?

What Diseases Do Possums Carry?

By Mildred T Koerner on May 16, 2023

Possums are fascinating creatures that often reside in our backyards or neighborhoods.

They have a unique appearance, with their long snouts and sharp teeth, but what may not be as well-known is the potential danger they pose when it comes to carrying diseases.

As we strive for mastery of our surroundings, it's important to understand what risks these animals may bring.

In this article, we will explore some of the common diseases possums carry and how they can affect both humans and pets alike.

By gaining knowledge about these issues, we can take steps toward protecting ourselves and those around us from any potential harm.

The Physical Characteristics Of Possums

As you walk through the woods at night, you might catch a glimpse of something furry scurrying across your path. Could it be a possum?

These nocturnal creatures are fascinating mammals that have adapted to life in the dark.

With body temperatures lower than most other mammals, opossums conserve energy and thrive in cooler climates.

Possums are covered in fur from head to tail, which helps them stay warm on chilly nights.

They also have sharp claws for climbing trees and grasping food.

Despite their small size and seemingly harmless appearance, these animals can be quite resilient when faced with danger.

But what sets them apart from other creatures of the night, like bats?

Let's explore the differences between possums and bats.

The Differences Between Possums And Bats

While possums and bats may seem similar in appearance, they are actually quite different in many ways.

One significant difference is the diseases that each animal carries.

While possums do carry a number of diseases, such as leptospirosis and tularemia, they are not known to transmit these illnesses directly to humans.

However, it is important to note that possums can still be carriers of dangerous parasites, such as ticks and fleas, which can then infect humans with illnesses like Lyme disease or typhus.

On the other hand, bats are notorious for carrying rabies, a potentially deadly virus that can be transmitted to humans through bites or scratches from infected animals.

In fact, over 95% of all human cases of rabies come from exposure to infected bats.

This means that if you encounter a bat on your property or suspect there may be bats living in your home, it is crucial to contact a professional wildlife removal service immediately to safely remove them and prevent any potential transmission of this dangerous disease.

How Possums Move In Trees

As wildlife creatures, opossums are known for their agility and ability to climb trees.

They can easily navigate through the branches of a tree with ease and grace that almost looks like they're dancing in the air.

Their movements appear effortless, but in reality, it's due to their prehensile tails that allow them to grasp onto any object tightly.

However, despite their impressive climbing abilities, opossums carry several diseases that could transmit to humans or other animals.

Some of these illnesses include leptospirosis, salmonella, tuberculosis, and others.

Though rare, there have been cases where individuals have contracted these ailments from handling infected opossums.

Therefore it is necessary not to approach wild possums as they can be dangerous to humans.

Additionally, if they spread diseases amongst each other or other wildlife species around us, we may unknowingly become carriers of such infections ourselves when exposed to contaminated areas.

The Role Of Prehensile Tails In Climbing

As we learned in the previous section, possums are resourceful climbers that use their sharp claws and prehensile tails to maneuver through trees with ease.

However, many people may be concerned about the diseases these animals carry.

While it is true that opossums can carry certain diseases such as leptospirosis and tuberculosis, they actually play an important role in our wildlife habitat by controlling insect populations and eating carrion.

Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opossums are not significant carriers of rabies due to their low body temperature making it difficult for the virus to survive within them.

It's important to remember that while wild animals should always be treated with caution, opossums do not pose a major threat when handled properly.

Transitioning into the next section, there is a common myth surrounding upside-down possums that need debunking.

Despite popular belief, these creatures cannot hang from trees by their tails alone without eventually losing consciousness!

Let's explore this fascinating topic further in the following section.

Debunking The Myth Of Upside-Down Possums

Many people mistakenly believe that opossums are dangerous to humans. However, this is simply a myth.

Opossums may look intimidating with their sharp teeth and pointy claws, but they are actually quite docile creatures. In fact, they would much rather play dead than attack.

While it is true that opossums can carry diseases such as leptospirosis and salmonella, the risk of transmission to humans is low.

Most cases of disease transmission occur when individuals come into contact with contaminated feces or urine from an infected animal.

Therefore, as long as you avoid direct contact with opossum waste and practice good hygiene habits (such as washing your hands regularly), you should not have any issues with disease contraction.

It's important to remember that just because opossums can carry diseases doesn't mean they will cause harm to humans.

As for the myth of upside-down possums, there really isn't anything to debunk.

While it's true that opossums often hang upside down from trees or other objects using their prehensile tails, this behavior has no bearing on their overall safety or disposition towards humans.

Simply put, whether an opossum is right-side up or upside down does not make them any more or less dangerous than before.

So next time you see an opossum hanging upside down in a tree, don't be afraid - just appreciate these fascinating creatures for what they are!


Overall, possums are fascinating creatures with unique physical characteristics that set them apart from other animals.

While they may have a bad reputation for being disease carriers, it's important to remember that not all possums carry diseases and there are steps we can take to prevent any potential risks.

Next time you see a possum in your backyard or up in a tree, take a moment to appreciate their resilience and adaptability.

Possums may seem like unlikely heroes, but they play an important role in our ecosystem and deserve our respect.

So let's give these little guys the credit they deserve and keep learning more about these amazing creatures!


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