One of the most unique animals in all of North America, the opossum is also a feisty and problematic pest. These animals do quite well in urban areas and have a knack for sniffing out a free meal. Likewise, it's not uncommon to find a family of opossums living in your home or garage.
Here's a bit more on these strange animals and how to keep your property safe:
An American marsupial
Many millions of years ago, a warmer climate and lower sea levels allowed ancient relatives of the opossum to travel from Australia, across Antarctica and into South America.
Today, National Geographic reported, the opossum is the only marsupial living in Canada and the U.S. - the vast majority of marsupials are found in Australia and New Zealand, including other species of possum. Like kangaroos and koalas, these animals carry their young in small pouches.
The word word "opossum" is derivative of the Algonquian language and was coined when Europeans first visited North America. The term "possum" is a colloquialism and was applied to the numerous relatives of the American opossum that were later discovered in Australia.
A climate migrant
It appears as if the opossum is still on the move today. Since the 1950s, the animals have steadily expanded their range northward. Not considered to be native to Canada, the Toronto Environmental Alliance reported that these creatures are now found throughout Southern Ontario. If the climate continues to warm, opossums could migrant even further north.
Although the animals usually don't do well in severe cold, slightly warmer winters have made this migration possible. At the same time, however, living in urban and suburban environments give opossums a leg up on frigid temperatures because there are so many places to hide from the cold.
A vector for disease
Although opossums are special and interesting creatures, they're also capable of transmitting disease. The University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Center explained that an illness called leptospirosis is spread through the animal's urine and feces and can in turn infect humans. The disease can cause flu symptoms and more serious conditions like kidney damage or even death. Other conditions like salmonella and rabies aren't as common because the animals maintain such a low body temperature but are still possible.
Pets may be at an elevated risk of catching an illness from opossums. One of the animal's primary defense systems is to play dead. A curious dog or cat may get quite close when inspecting an individual that's "playing possum," creating an unsafe situation.
A full-blown pest
Beyond the possibility of disease, opossums are such problematic pests because they are such good survivalists. Like Raccoons, skunks and other common creatures that do well among people, opossums can subsist on a wide variety of food. From garbage and food scraps to garden produce or even pet food, opossums are quite adept at finding a meal in developed areas.
In fact, the Mother Nature Network explained that in opossums performed better at remembering where to find a source of food than did rats, cats or dogs. With their opposable thumbs and prehensile tails, opossums are master climbers and quite handy. As such, if you aren't careful with your garbage bins, these animals can quickly make themselves a meal. And like raccoons, they have a knack for staying out of sight. You might not notice an opossum has invaded your attic for quite some time, especially because individuals living among people are usually nocturnal.
If you think you have an opossum living on your property, call a pest control specialist. That way these clever animals can be safely removed and taken away from your home.
You probably already know that most people are repulsed by the simple sight of cockroaches. If you are personally dealing with a cockroach infestation, the feelings of disgust are probably even more intense. Unfortunately, the cold winter weather tends to be one of the reasons this pest ends up in your home in the first place, according to Any Pest. While you may know that you don't want to share your home with cockroaches this winter, there are a number of interesting facts about this pest that you've probably never heard.
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