Opossums, also commonly referred to as possums, are America’s only marsupial. These nocturnal creatures are common throughout Florida and love scavenging through trash. While docile and generally wary of humans, you should never try to interact with a wild opossum as they can carry a host of diseases that could threaten your health. But are they carriers of rabies?
The Truth About Opossums and Rabies
While any mammal can get rabies, the disease is more common in other mammals such as bats, raccoons, or skunks. The chance of encountering a rabid opossum is extremely low. Opossums have a very low body temperature which scientists believe blocks the contraction of the rabies virus and makes it difficult to survive.
Unfortunately, people usually assume opossums carry rabies due to their behavior. Opossums will drool, hiss, and bare their teeth as a defense mechanism. In general, opossums are gentle creatures and will only do this when threatened. That being said, opossums are still wild animals that can cause property damage and carry other diseases that are no less concerning.
3 Diseases Opossums Can Carry
Opossums have been known to carry several diseases or parasites that can pose a threat to you and your family if contracted.
While opossums can’t carry Lyme disease, ticks found on opossums can. Lyme disease causes rashes, flu-like symptoms, and pain in joints and muscles. Lack of mental clarity and pain for up to six months are long-term effects.
This bacterial infection is transmitted by bodily fluids from opossums and affects both humans and other wildlife, including dogs and cats. Leptospirosis causes high fever, headache, and muscle pain. If not treated, it can lead to kidney and liver damage.
Rickettsia is another bacterial group spread through the bites of ticks found on opossums. It causes sudden fever, chills, and headache.
These bacteria are commonly found in water contaminated by opossum urine. The most common types of mycobacteria can cause tuberculosis and leprosy.
How to Spot a Rabid Animal
Symptoms of rabies in mammals include lethargy, vomiting, and lack of appetite. Over time, a rabid critter could become aggressive, be weaker than normal, have difficulty breathing or swallowing, or even become paralyzed.
If you spot an opossum or any other wild animal behaving erratically, do not interact with it. Instead, contact a wildlife professional who will be properly equipped and experienced to handle its safe removal.
Safe and Humane Opossum Removal Services in Orlando
If you encounter an unwelcome opossum on your Central Florida property, keep your distance and call Critter Control® of Orlando. Our expert team of professionals is prepared to deal with all sorts of nuisance wildlife and use eco-friendly and humane methods of removal. We also clean up any contamination left behind by the pest and install preventative safeguards that ensure critters stay away from your property.