Feared by ticks, fearless of snakes
December 13, 2015 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Opossums are pretty great. They kill ticks in droves, and they're immune to several kinds of snake venom. Plus, they're heaps cuter than they're given credit for. A mother opossum is basically a living school bus. During tough times, a friendly dog can function as a surrogate school bus. What to do if you find injured or orphaned opossums.

Perhaps opossums are unfairly maligned because when we meet them, they often get frightened and leave a bad impression with their sophisticated defense mechanisms.

Previously and also previously.
posted by Gymnopedist (75 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
possums are beautiful little trash babies and they're my friends and i love them. I had no idea they ate so many ticks! Thank you for this wonderful post!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:55 PM on December 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


I just tried to rescue a possum the other day that was sitting in the middle of the road stunned. It had a minor wound but walked out of the road with some nudging. Went home to get a cat carrier, but it was gone when I got back.

Our cats will not eat out of bowls after possums. The possums learned what time feeding was and waited on the porch with the cats.
posted by bongo_x at 1:56 PM on December 13, 2015


It's in the "also previously" but seriously: y'all should learn about proper opossum massage. (They deserve it after eating all those ticks!)
posted by obfuscation at 2:37 PM on December 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'd take 20 O'possums over a damn Raccoon any day.

Kinda neat to learn they actually do something, I thought they were harmless carrion eating doofs.
posted by The Power Nap at 2:37 PM on December 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Opossums harbor extraordinary numbers of fleas per square centimeter of fur in comparison with other animals and for that reason are known in the pest control industry as flea reservoirs.

Because of their affinity for flea infestation, opossums are "ideal carriers" for diseases such as typhus and other diseases that are transmissible to humans.

Opossums are hideous, filthy animals and should be exterminated once they've infested human settlements.
posted by mistersquid at 2:39 PM on December 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


We've got an albino opossum living in our yard, and I love it when that creepy little weirdo goes rolling around in the evening.
posted by sobell at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Opossums are usually secretive but after one event that flooded our neighborhood I waded out behind my house to see a possum perched right out on the open on the telephone line, looking down at the water with an almost human expression of WTF bewilderment. Poor thing stayed there for hours, obviously flooded out ot its den and having nowhere else to go until the water receded.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:43 PM on December 13, 2015


They also make dandy paving material, judging by the county roads around here.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:47 PM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


They also make dandy paving material, judging by the county roads around here.

Turns out drooling and playing dead aren't good defenses against cars. Evolution may take a while to catch up.
posted by dilettante at 3:00 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aw, the possum and the dog!

My family's first cat was an indoor/outdoor cat, and one night, my mother opened the back door to refresh his food bowl. It was dark (mom hadn't turned the yard lights on), and a large cat-like shape trundled over to eat. My mother idly began petting the large cat-like shape, and...given the thread, you can guess where this is going. No parents were harmed, however.

I had a similarly close encounter with a possum a few years back while helping my mom feed the feral cat colony at Cal State Long Beach. Like all the stations, this one was hidden, out of the normal line of sight. I reached into the tub that held the dry food, and out popped a quizzical-looking possum, wanting to know what the deal was. (Needless to say, he wound up getting first go at the food.)

That was greatly preferable to the time I came back late at night to my dorm at UC Irvine, heard a strange rustling noise immediately to my left, and looked over to see a large family of equally large raccoons staring at me. "I'll just be going in now," I said, and skedaddled quickly.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:02 PM on December 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


My family's first cat was an indoor/outdoor cat, and one night, my mother opened the back door to refresh his food bowl. It was dark (mom hadn't turned the yard lights on), and a large cat-like shape trundled over to eat. My mother idly began petting the large cat-like shape, and...given the thread, you can guess where this is going.

Surprise non-cats, in order of likeliness in my neck of the woods:
1. Raccoon
2. Skunk
3. Opossum

(Opossums are new here.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:37 PM on December 13, 2015


Hmm, when I was in New Zealand, I was told that they were an invasive species and had a deep impact on bird numbers. The New Zealanders were trying to monetize the opossum population by creating Merino-Possum sweaters and other related clothing items. I still recall one sweater shop that had an opossum taxidermied and posed in a very aggressive, horror flick level, posture. At the end of the lecture, you got the distinct impression that opossums were pestilential and you are doing a good deed buying a possum-merino clothing item. Let me say that those sweaters SHED a lot. Like a cloud of possum fuzz billowing out with each movement.
posted by jadepearl at 3:40 PM on December 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Opossums harbor extraordinary numbers of fleas per square centimeter of fur in comparison with other animals and for that reason are known in the pest control industry as flea reservoirs.

I'm curious about this: the article says they're obsessive groomers, and that ticks don't survive long on them, so how come they don't keep the flea numbers down? Around here, hedgehogs are famous flea reservoirs, but that makes sense to me since it's hard to pick them out from between the hedgehog spines.
posted by Azara at 3:40 PM on December 13, 2015


Opossums are hideous, filthy animals and should be exterminated once they've infested human settlements.

Might one imagine a possum would say the same about yourself? No; they are much kinder than you are.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:41 PM on December 13, 2015 [31 favorites]


jadepearl:

The ones in NZ are the common brushtail possum and they are indeed invasive, and native to Australia. There's a bar on the South Island that used to offer a free pint for every 5 possum tails brought in.
posted by deadbilly at 3:55 PM on December 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hmm, when I was in New Zealand, I was told that they were an invasive species and had a deep impact on bird numbers. The New Zealanders were trying to monetize the opossum population by creating Merino-Possum sweaters and other related clothing items.

I have a possum scarf and hat!

But those are possums (not opossums), in New Zealand. Completely different animal, completely different ecosystem.

I'm curious about this: the article says they're obsessive groomers, and that ticks don't survive long on them, so how come they don't keep the flea numbers down?


Fleas can jump away. Ticks can't.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:56 PM on December 13, 2015


One of my best friends in college had a pet possum growing up; his name was Chompers and he hung out with their outside cats and lived to a ripe old age.
posted by blnkfrnk at 4:33 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I think I'd take typhus or pretty much any normal fleaborne illness over Lyme disease or the lesser known but also awful Ehrlichiosis. Trading ticks for fleas strikes me as a net benefit. YMMV.
posted by Gymnopedist at 4:45 PM on December 13, 2015


Opossums are hideous, filthy animals and should be exterminated once they've infested human settlements.

Please stop carrying on like that and go watch this clip of Shmooky. He is the waddling, fuzzy lump of joy you need in your life right now.

(Seriously, there are other places for anti-possum propaganda. This is a thread for the celebration of opossumkind.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:49 PM on December 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


When we lived in bloomington our neighbor fed some outdoor cats and after a while a opossum started showing up. Didn't give two shits about people, I'd be standing out there smoking a cigarette at 2 in the morning and it would walk right past me to go get some catfood. They're ugly bastards up close.
posted by Ferreous at 4:50 PM on December 13, 2015


Turns out drooling and playing dead aren't good defenses against cars. Evolution may take a while to catch up

Couple summers ago I was driving someplace and saw an opossum on the side of the road: hindquarters crushed, viscera swollen on the hot pavement, flies hovering, and I swear to God, my first thought was "Man, opossums have really stepped up their game."
posted by gauche at 4:57 PM on December 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Once you have had to pick up a live-trap with a possum in it and carry it, as close to at arm's length away as humanly possible, a few hundred yards then you will forevermore admit that they are very much not 'heaps cuter' than anyone has given them credit for.

I can't speak to the rest of the stuff mentioned here so I'll remain silent, but the cute part is full bore, uh huh, no way, wrong wrong wrong.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:58 PM on December 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm curious about this: the article says they're obsessive groomers, and that ticks don't survive long on them, so how come they don't keep the flea numbers down?

Have you ever tried to grab a flea with your teeth? Fleas are crazy jittery little fellas, jumping all over and scurrying. Ticks just sit there getting juicy.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:09 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had a recent encounter with an opossum that put me on team 'not cute'.

I woke up a few nights ago to the sound of my chickens screaming. I didn't know that they could make sounds like that, but it was straight up chicken horror movie terror screams. I went outside and couldn't quite see what was going on inside the second level of the coop, but I could tell something was really wrong because the chickens didn't come outside when I called them.

Feeling like I needed some help I went back inside and woke up my husband. Rather than realize that this was an emergency, he grumbled about needing to pee. So I spent the longest 30 seconds of my life waiting for him and watching the henhouse. The chickens had stopped screaming and were fighting something. Finally he went outside and opened the second floor doors. The chickens hopped out looking intact except for a nasty comb bite on one of them.

Alone in the coop was a juvenile opossum, backed into a corner and hissing and looking more like a muppet than a real creature. I'd never seen one that close and it looked absolutely terrified. The chickens had given it a good pecking and now there were humans looking at it from a short distance. I thought to myself "I moved to the city so I wouldn't have to contemplate killing wild animals." We let it be and moved the chickens to the basement for the night. It was still in its corner and hissing when my husband returned to grab the waterer, but eventually it came to its senses and ran off.

We secured the coop better and it hasn't been back. Chickens: 1, Opossum 0
posted by Alison at 5:10 PM on December 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Once you have had to pick up a live-trap with a possum in it and carry it, as close to at arm's length away as humanly possible, a few hundred yards then you will forevermore admit that they are very much not 'heaps cuter' than anyone has given them credit for.

disagree although in lieu of a trap i used a dishtowel and in lieu of arm's length i used "kissin' length"
posted by Greg Nog at 5:15 PM on December 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Ursula Hitler, I'm fine with domesticated critter opossums.

It's the semi-wild ones that have infested human settlements which I consider to be vermin and the proper objects of animal control.

Going "aww cute" at disease-carrying pests is actually quite stupid and liable to win humans with children Darwin awards.

Greg Nog, a lack of sufficient consciousness and intellect is not "nice". I own up to the fact that I have nothing but antipathy toward undomesticated non-human mammalian vectors of human-transmissible disease.
posted by mistersquid at 5:17 PM on December 13, 2015


It seems like you're being pretty shitty about possums
posted by Greg Nog at 5:24 PM on December 13, 2015 [28 favorites]


And who's talking palatable?

Animal control run by local governments is for the welfare of humans and undomesticated animals. The services they provide are necessary and neither more nor less "palatable" than sewer systems and traffic management.

Seriously now.
posted by mistersquid at 5:24 PM on December 13, 2015


did a possum partner break up with you right before the winter formal or what
posted by poffin boffin at 5:25 PM on December 13, 2015 [37 favorites]


Evolution taking a while to catch up is a funny notion when you're talking about opossums. They're ancient mammals, going back 55 million years and more without changing all that much. "Probably just as nasty back then," my paleontologist aunt said once.

Seriously, they watched the dinosaurs die.
posted by tss at 5:29 PM on December 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Normally I disagree with Greg Nog on damn near everything, but I'm pleased to find we are both on Team Possum. Anybody who loves this waddling, weirdo marsupial can't be all bad.

Most of the stories here of possums being "not cute" involve small, terrified animals hissing in self-defense. If you backed a stray cat or dog into a corner, they sure wouldn't be cute then either. But unlike cats or dogs, a possum has very few defenses beyond hissing or playing dead. If a possum bites you, you've probably done plenty to earn it.

It can be creepy to find one in your yard at night because finding any unfamiliar animal in the dark can be creepy. But as yard visitors go, you could do much worse. They're slow and dumb and prone to misadventure, but possums really aren't looking for trouble.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:32 PM on December 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wonder if toxoplasma gondii can make people pro-possum
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:42 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]




The other weird thing about possums is how prevalent they are in Los Angeles. I never in my life expected that, and people rarely mention it. When I was new there I remember stopping the car and staring at the gigantic rat walking down the street calmly like he owned the place. "Possum" never occurred to me, I’d never seen one, but they’re everywhere there.

Around ATL it would be rare to leave the house and not see a squished one in the street. It would be rare to get 3 miles from my house and not see one.
posted by bongo_x at 5:51 PM on December 13, 2015


You can find something both cute and not-ready-for-cohabitation; the fleas are to be avoided, naturally; the tick control is desirable; I adore looking at them being cute, but wouldn't want to pet most of them (or let them in my house).

This putting creatures (or people) into either "good=must never be criticized" or "bad=must never ever be given the benefit of a doubt" classification is not that constructive, in my opinion.

Come on! Enjoy the cuteness if you want, don't if you prefer, but please don't call people stupid for their feelings.
posted by amtho at 5:52 PM on December 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


It strikes me as kind of bizarre or misplaced to have an active antipathy for an animal who basically lacks the ability to feel any ill-will toward you -- i.e., any decision a wild opossum makes is based purely on getting by in the world and any threat or inconvenience one poses us is purely by accident. It's like getting personally mad at (vs. just generally irritated by) the weather or something.

Plus, if anything, opossums (fill in the blank with any other animal we kill for encroaching on "our" space) should probably be angry at us for all the harm we cause them. Already many mentions of opossums getting killed by cars upthread. I'm sure that humans have harmed opossums much, much more than opossums have harmed humans.
posted by Gymnopedist at 5:55 PM on December 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seriously, they watched the dinosaurs die.

Those are some stone cold mothefuckers right there.
posted by briank at 6:00 PM on December 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


Seriously, they watched the dinosaurs die.

Did they shoot them in Reno?
posted by bongo_x at 6:02 PM on December 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


If we're allowed to exterminate things we find "ugly" then I got a list of shit longer than all my constituent cells laid end-to-end. Opossums aren't on that list, but clearing native habitat so you can build your dumb stupid house certainly is. And if we're talking rate of evolutionary adaptation, maybe humans could get off their collective asses and evolve to not catch typhus. Oh wait we did it's called getting inoculated.

In conclusion, then: opossums rool, humans drool.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:33 PM on December 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


As somebody who grew up in Brooklyn and lives in Boston, I can aver there is nothing that will wake you up quicker in the morning than going to haul your trash barrel out to the curb on trash day only to find this large quasi-rat thing just lying there in the barrel looking up at you with the world's most pitiful expression.
posted by adamg at 6:38 PM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw an Opossum dead on the side of the road in Guelph, Ontario 20+ years ago, the first I had ever seen dead or alive, and told a First Nations friend about it. She nearly died laughing at me while insisting that there were no Opossums in Ontario and that I was a foolish white boy.

So I dragged her out to the spot where the Opossum was and showed her.

After that she knew I was a foolish white boy because I dragged a women out to see some roadkill in order to prove a point.
posted by srboisvert at 6:44 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


My partner and I live in a city (Guelph, ON) that allows backyard hens, and we live in a neighbourhood full of hippie-types who do the whole urban homestead thing. We tried having backyard chickens one year; we modified our shed to have a little side door and kind of a half-assed fenced area which would mostly keep the birds safely contained. Each night, after the chickens retired to their roost in the shed, my partner or I would go out and close the side door. Until we forgot one night and woke up at 3am to the sound of screeching hens in the backyard.

"Shit!" I cried, in disoriented panic, "Something's eating the chickens!". So we ran outside in our pajamas to find the chickens all a-flutter around the yard, having somehow escaped both the shed and the fenced run. I opened the shed/coop door, shone a flashlight in to find a pointy little face staring back at me in comical surprise, clutching a fresh egg in his hands. I'm sure the little bugger thought he hit the jackpot, then the hens ruined it all by panicking.

It took some time, and there was much alarm on both sides, but we managed to herd the opossum out of the coop, then we spent a bunch of time chasing chickens around the yard to get them back in the coop (lest they get eaten by some more ambitious predator). We never forgot to close the coop at night again. But damn... we had many a laugh over the poor opossum settling in to his delicious breakfast of free-range eggs only to be interrupted by lumbering giants apparently as afraid of him as he was of us.
posted by torisaur at 6:48 PM on December 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


> Hmm, when I was in New Zealand, I was told that they were an invasive species and had a deep impact on bird numbers. The New Zealanders were trying to monetize the opossum population by creating Merino-Possum sweaters and other related clothing items. I still recall one sweater shop that had an opossum taxidermied and posed in a very aggressive, horror flick level, posture. At the end of the lecture, you got the distinct impression that opossums were pestilential and you are doing a good deed buying a possum-merino clothing item. Let me say that those sweaters SHED a lot. Like a cloud of possum fuzz billowing out with each movement.
  1. I am increasingly finding myself convinced that life in New Zealand is exactly what Flight of the Conchords would lead me to think it's like. This story has contributed greatly to this impression.
  2. I would like to move to New Zealand.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:50 PM on December 13, 2015


Possums held no particular esteem on our farm, until my dad saw one wrangle a water moccasin in the part of the yard closest to the house. 25 lbs of Jim Dandy dog food went out into their newly constructed half-a-tire possum feeder behind the smokehouse every month thenceforth. They were also good at June bugs.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:53 PM on December 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


Seriously, they watched the dinosaurs die.

Unfortunately the dinosaurs' dad worked for air traffic control and inadvertently caused a midair collision in his grief.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:14 PM on December 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have twins and I wear them both at once in baby carriers and I think I might look just exactly like that baby-covered waddling opossum mom when I do that. I'm gonna try to forget that video.
posted by gerstle at 7:32 PM on December 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


As a fellow chickener, oppossums are the enemy. oppossums harrass the birds and make large bloody messes.

They are not efficient eaters. One chewed the belly away from a Buff Orpington (my roommates favorite), but didn't kill it; the bird walked for a day on its intestines before we found the giant wound it was hiding in the sand. we put the bird down. we put the possum down when it returned the next night. the ones that keep coming back, you have to get rid of.
posted by eustatic at 7:40 PM on December 13, 2015


Because of their affinity for flea infestation, opossums are "ideal carriers" for diseases such as typhus and other diseases that are transmissible to humans.--mistersquid

Typhus is very uncommon in the US. However, tickborne diseases such as Lyme disease are nasty, common, and growing. If this thing eats lots of ticks, that's a net plus.
posted by eye of newt at 7:43 PM on December 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, NZ possums are completely different. I used to think Americans were hard-hearted bastards that they thought oppossums were rat-like and gross, but then I saw an American oppossum and (kind of) understood. On the other hand, we New Zealanders do kill ours and turn them into socks. (Awesome socks, btw). On the third hand, I now live in Australia, where they are protected, and I am finally allowed to coo over them and feed them fruit. (They like apples and birdseed. And the best thing about feeding them is when they have babies and they bring the babies to meet you specially. And then you have second-generation possum friends who grew up hanging out and are super unafraid of people. Which is fine as long as they never move to NZ.)
posted by lollusc at 8:20 PM on December 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


And apparently I can't spell opossum. (Really? That looks so wrong.)
posted by lollusc at 8:50 PM on December 13, 2015


Perhaps opossums are unfairly maligned because when we meet them, they often get frightened and leave a bad impression with their sophisticated defense mechanisms.

See also
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:15 PM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you're in Napier, New Zealand, or even within 100 miles of it, you must go to Opossum World. It's hilarious and bizarre (and features some US possums as a compare-and-contrast, thus relevant).
posted by rednikki at 9:43 PM on December 13, 2015


I grew up in a place that had neither rats (really) nor possums. When I moved away for college, I unwittingly chose a town that had both. I about had a stroke the first night I saw a "rat". My more marsupial-aware friends were amused by my alarm and ignorance.

Mistersquid, I think you've lost this battle - opossums are what's known as "peridomestic", which means you are never getting away from them, and although they're a major reservoir for murine typhus, so are cats (feral or free-ranging domesticated, the fleas truly don't care).
posted by gingerest at 12:00 AM on December 14, 2015


Have you ever tried to grab a flea with your teeth? Fleas are crazy jittery little fellas, jumping all over and scurrying. Ticks just sit there getting juicy.

Fleas don't spend all their time moving, though: the watch and pounce method of catching them can be quite effective. I had a lazy cat years ago who sometimes brought home fleas and I could normally catch them with a click of my fingernails - one of those now obsolete skills replaced by chemical treatment. Hence my puzzlement as to how an obsessive groomer of an animal would be infested with fleas.
posted by Azara at 4:22 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Previously on the "possums: cute or creepy?" question (and also probably my favorite comment from The Whelk this year).
posted by deludingmyself at 5:24 AM on December 14, 2015


I have been reading up on possums as a result of this thread. Almost all of the "possums have fleas and carry diseases" stuff comes from websites of exterminators, so I'm inclined to suspect it is overstated.
posted by maxsparber at 5:42 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


What to do if you find injured or orphaned opossums.

According to my Grandma, whose answer to this after a frantic phone call The Night The Possum Cane in the Catflap, the answer is, "Grab 'im by the tail, throw 'im in the back of the truck, and drive 'im to the nearest cornfield. He's more scared of you than you are of him, but wath out 'cause his mouth is like a G*****n hinge."

What we actually did: lock ourselves and the cats out of the kitchen until it went back out the flap (a few hours later), nail boards over it, scrub the kitchen with bleach, and never speak of catflaps again.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:03 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of the first* indicators for me of climate change was when opossums started appearing here in Western NY. They're not particularly cold-adapted but they've been extending their range northward.


* Canada geese were second but are probably more familiar to most people due to their noise, droppings and over assholiness.
posted by tommasz at 8:31 AM on December 14, 2015


Opossums tried to migrate into my area a few years back, resulting in several flattened possums on the road out front, and me rescuing two orphans (at different times) from our back yard and taking them to wildlife rehab. I did see at least one full grown one waddling through the garden the next year, so Darwin may have had his day. This block isn't very friendly to them, though, a lot of walls and fences and not a lot of trees.

However, there are huge numbers of them a few blocks away, along Coyote Creek. For gaming-related reasons, I spent a couple of months this summer wandering late at night and poking into odd places behind buildings. I discovered that a) there is a feral cat supercolony running along Coyote Creek, and b) many of the feral feeding stations along there might be better described as possum feeding stations that occasionally get a cat.

I still like 'em, though. They are ugly-cute, like manatees and baby hippos, and most of all, they are the great survivors. Just about every other marsupial outside Australia was wiped out when they met the mammals, but the possums go on and spread and flourish.
posted by tavella at 9:23 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Going "aww cute" at disease-carrying pests is actually quite stupid and liable to win humans with children Darwin awards.

this is quite the statement
posted by Existential Dread at 9:28 AM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Indeed. Someone is oddly possum-phobic. Children should be taught to not touch all wild animals, why you think possums are especially dangerous I do not know. Plenty of animals carry parasites and diseases, including far more deadly ones.
posted by tavella at 10:00 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Opossums also scare the living shit out of my spouse while she is out in the backyard smoking. And when I try to scare them off, they just play dead.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2015


I'm going to chime in and say I think they are cute, with their beady little eyes and hairless tails. They used to toddle over the connecting fences and into our yard when I was a kid in Michigan. I would see them at night and they never hissed at me or made any sort of threatening move. Now, I live in NM and get daily skunks and gigantic raccoon visitors, which are also cute in their own way. I just leave them alone and have never had any problem.
posted by nikitabot at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, there's a weird thing where if possums are being celebrated online (on Metafilter or pretty much anywhere else) folks start showing up to say that even if you think they're cute and you've never had problems with them and you have all this data to back you up about how relatively harmless they are, they are in fact evil and ugly and need to die. And then you get the people telling stories about happily blowing their brains out or stomping on them or running them over or whatever.

None of the above is intended as a slap at anybody specific here. Honestly I skimmed the thread and just confirmed that, yep, the inevitable possum hate is back. It baffles me really. I don't think you get nearly as much of this sort of thing when racoons or skunks come up, and both are more dangerous (and arguably less cute) than possums. If a possum killed your pet chicken that's really sad and I can see how that would prejudice you against possums. But cats and dogs will kill chickens too. Animals kill each other, and we kill them and kill each other. We're all pretty kill-crazy, here on Earth. As these things go, possums are less kill-y than a lot of other folks you could name.

In conclusion: Shmooky!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:56 PM on December 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Any thing that eats venomous snakes and ticks is a plus IMHO. Hmm, maybe I'll start breeding possums and mongooses. Crap! I just looked up mongooses, and it doesn't look like they'd do well in north america. Guess it's just possums then.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:55 PM on December 14, 2015


I have to say one of the cutest moments was when, early in the morning before work, I got up to get the eggs out and touched something that was NOT a chicken. Well, come to find out, some ambitious tiny possum was all snuggled up to an egg almost as big as he was. He certainly hadn't figured out to eat it, so I guess he just decided to take a nap. So goddamn cute.

Never had any problem with any other possum while I had hens, just that one lil intruder.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:05 PM on December 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Going "aww cute" at disease-carrying pests is actually quite stupid

Yet for some reason people keep having kids.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:20 PM on December 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have owned the domain possumist.com for years and years, and don't know what to do with it. Love those cute lil guys!
posted by statolith at 6:22 PM on December 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have owned the domain possumist.com for years and years, and don't know what to do with it.

Possum pictures! Possum news! Possum quizzes! Possum factoids! Possum jokes and riddles! Possum crafts! Possum fashions! Possum art! Great possums in history!

This needs to be!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:40 AM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yet for some reason people keep having kids.


The humane thing to do when you find one is to return it to a safe wooded area

It's more afraid of you than you are of it
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:39 PM on December 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Some interspecies snorgling for your morning: orphaned baby possum and white German shepherd.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:10 AM on December 17, 2015


That's in the post.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:45 AM on December 17, 2015


Dammit! I'm taking this drug that has short-term memory loss as a side effect :| Clearly it's wor--

What?
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:54 AM on December 17, 2015




And I just saw another possum strolling across the garden as I was parking last night, so apparently they are still around, just smarter and not getting run over.
posted by tavella at 12:01 AM on January 2, 2016


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