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What Do Opossums Eat?

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What Are Opossums?

Opossums are marsupials, meaning that they are mammals who carry their young in a pouch. Opossums are the largest marsupial order in the Western Hemisphere. There is only one kind of opossum in North America, the Virginia opossum, which is the singular marsupial found north of Mexico. In North America, Virginia opossums are often referred to as just “possums.” 

Opossum Diet In The Wild

The Virginia opossum is omnivorous and feeds on a wide range of plant-based foods as well as many small invertebrates, fish, amphibians, birds, small mammals and even carrion and the eggs of other animals. Possums often turn to plants as their meal of choice in the late summer, autumn and early winter when they will eat the fruits of trees and shrubs such as raspberries, blackberries, apples, acorns and many different kinds of vegetables.

What Do Baby Opossums Eat?

Baby opossums are raised in their mother’s pouch where they, alongside their 9-20 brothers and sisters, live on their mother’s milk for around 2 and 1/2 months. At this time, they then climb onto their mother’s back and she continues to carry and feed them until they are about 4 to 5 months old. 

What Do Opossums Eat In Urban Areas?

In metropolitan or heavily populated areas, possums will eat from bird feeders, neighborhood vegetable gardens, fruit trees (specifically persimmons which are one of their favorite foods), compost piles, open waste containers and pet food that has been left outdoors. 

Opossums And Humans

Opossums are considered a beneficial species to humans because they feed on many insects that humans regard as pests. Opossums are voracious tick eaters and will devour 95% of the ticks they encounter. In this way, they help prevent the spread of tick-borne illnesses. They also eat cockroaches, mice, rats, spiders, slugs and many other insects and pests that humans don’t want near or in our homes. 

While we do consider possums beneficial species and are glad that they eat so many pests, we do not want them near our homes. They may be nature’s pest control, but they certainly shouldn’t be ours. Opossums carry many diseases including leptospirosis, tuberculosis, spotted fever, trichomoniasis, Chagas disease and tularemia to name a few. They also may be infested with fleas, ticks, mites and lice. If you have spotted an opossum near your home, be grateful for all the pests they may have eliminated from your property before you spotted them, and then quickly call a pest control specialist to remove it from your property. 

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The creator of this review received compensation by RMICPA, LLC on behalf of Terminix®. This review is the opinion of its creator and its claims are not endorsed or evaluated by RMICPA, LLC.

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