Susan W
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Are Possums Good or Bad to Have Around?

Not sure what category this is. Not organic, veg, insect, so here goes! I was looking for OK Kitty to come in(after dark), finally saw her herding a possum. I thought I may have had possums around, and this is proof!

Are they bad, indifferent, gotta go, can stay? I am in-town, back yard.
Have fun!
Susan

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PunkRotten
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I would be careful with your cat or dog playing/fighting with them, they can cause serious injury or death. Other than that I have not observed possums to be a big problem. I think if given a chance and hungry, and had fruit/veggies available in a garden they would help themselves.


I think one was eating some tomatoes out of my garden earlier this year.

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Kisal
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I like possums. They kill snakes, including poisonous ones. They don't decimate the snake population, though, which I consider important. Snakes are an important control on the rodent population, after all. Possums are just one of the natural controls of the snake population. They also clean up a large portion of the carrion found in populated areas, i.e. dead birds and other similar-sized animals.

They are fascinating little animals. Among other things, they rarely contract rabies, and so don't spread it, because they have such a low body temperature. The average life span is about 18 months. They can deliver a nasty bite, because their mouths are full of bacteria as a result of their carrion eating. But their teeth are very weak, so they primarily feed on insects, rotten fruits and vegetables, and any carrion they find laying around.

Their apparent lack of IQ is partly due to their lack of much of a frontal lobe. These were one of the first mammals to appear as the dinosaurs were dying out, so the brain is only slightly more developed than that of reptiles. However, that same lack of frontal lobe development makes them lack aggressiveness. They are quite docile, and hiss when frightened, opening the mouth wide to display all their teeth. They have more teeth than any other land mammal. They sometimes appear "stupid" ... walking out in front of cars, for instance ... due to their very poor eyesight and hearing, but that long snout is backed up by more sinus space and scent receptors than those of even the best scent hound. IMO, possums = friends. :)
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rainbowgardener
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Agree with Kisal! I have possums around, but as K. said they are pretty docile. They do a lot less damage in my garden than the raccoons and groundhogs do. The young ones when threatened will play dead ("play possum") which is kind of fascinating. I watched one do that once. It laid there absolutely limp and still, looking quite convincingly dead, for about five minutes and then got up and walked away.
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!potatoes!
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okay, my turn to nit-pick, the taxonomist is getting riled:

the animals you are all referring to is an Opossum, of which there are a number of species in the americas, only one being found in north america: Didelphis virginiana, the virginia opossum.

"possums" are a large group of arborial australian and south pacific marsupials, only loosely related to our homegrown variety. cuter, too.

okay, nit-pick over. adding to RG's note about 'playing possum,' not only do they look convincingly dead, they've found a way to smell convincingly dead, too, even to those with better noses than us: they have glands that actually produce and secrete cadaverine, a compound that smells like its namesake: a corpse.

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Kisal
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I've had many possums in my house. I've raised uncountable babies, even ones I had to tube-feed. I once had a mama that had been hit by a car. She had babies in her pouch, and every day, I would reach in and examine each of them, to make sure none were hurt in the accident. Mama never made a move to stop me, just looked at me. :)
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lily51
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We had an o'possum encounter several summers ago. For about a week or more, we awakened to the dog barking in the back yard; when my husband investigated, it was a baby opossum sitting on the top step of the ladder in the deep end of the pool. He'd pick it up by the tail, and toss it over the fence. We kept wondering where they were all coming from.

One day when in the garage, I pulled open the top drawer of the workbench, and there was momma 'possum, playing possum! :shock: I think I let out a shriek (don'tlike surprises like that!), ran in the house, and let my husband figure out a way to get momma out of there.
Has not happened before or since.

thanrose
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I like and have rescued opossum before too, but never like Kisal. More like sheltering a scared or bruised little buddy providing water, fruit and cover until they could meander on.

My experience living with them around though is that if whatever rampagd through your garden last night pierced all the tomatoes, ripped apart other plants, dug shallow holes, and left a pointless mess of destruction, it was probably opossum. Raccoons will localize their mess, squirrels have a nano-second memory so damage will be very hit and miss.

But if something bit into 22 of 24 tomatoes, it was an opossum.

I still like them, though.

elizaaabeth
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"possums" are a large group of arborial australian and south pacific marsupials, only loosely related to our homegrown variety. cuter, too
Cuter? Maybe. But I'm going to have to the bad guy here and say I HATE these guys. Last Summer they decimated my entire corn crop in one night, a day or two before I was going to harvest. Had a good go at the tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers too. Weren't too keen on the harder fruits. Then they annihilated ALL my fall seedlings when they were about ten centimeters high. When they took out my pea seedlings a couple of months ago, I finally got the message and put of some netting. Since then, I've found a few holes in the netting which I've tied up, but it seems to be working. It'll be interesting to see if they get more determine when things start fruiting.

Admittedly, a large part of why I dislike these guys is the way they treat my pups. Sit on the lowest branch, just out of reach so the dogs go skitz. A few years back, the older one would sit outside, fixated for hours on end. That's stopped now and she's got a lovely scar half a cm off her eye to explain why. The younger one has taken up in her stead, though not quite as determinedly and far nosier. And as much of an animal lover as I am, I'm quite happy to say there have been a few corpses to dispose of. If worst comes to worse this summer, she may get shut down by the vegies during the night :x

Having said that, birds and possums are really the worst I have to deal with around here, so I guess I should count my wins.

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shadylane
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Some think of them as ugly, I think they are cute little guys and always welcome. Critters of all kinds have a role to play and are mis-understood. Here's a picture of a friend in need, after the momma died.

I really don't mind sharing my garden with critters, where else are can they go I ask, we've just about taken over every place of there habitat and food source.

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Kisal
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Adorable pics, shadylane! :)
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Susan W
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Thanks for moving to appropriate place.

Yes those babies are just too cute!
Have fun!
Susan

cynthia_h
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1) Not a fan of North American possum opossum or whatever, the marsupial with too many teeth and a hiss that scared my cats in Berkeley. I had enough to do, chasing off raccoons with broom/hose nozzle on "Warp 9 Force Field" without these slow, nasty creatures as well. I guess it's good, if they eat small snakes, but I could actually do with a snake or two.

2) The New Zealand possum is a pest. Out-and-out pest. It's a carrier of bovine tuberculosis and a marauder on plants in NZ. No native predators, it was up to people to instigate a successful campaign against these possums. Now, according to [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Possum]this Wikipedia article[/url], the population of NZ possums in New Zealand has fallen from 70 million to 30 million, about half of the pre-1980s population.

Why are they in New Zealand? Because someone, at some point in time, thought, "Wow. I could start a FUR INDUSTRY in New Zealand!" :roll: And then came the situation similar to that of rabbits in Australia, eucalyptus in California, and other invaders we can think of (French snails in California...), where there are no natural predators and the invader goes wild.

I found out about the NZ possums from my gardening/knitting BFF, who visited NZ several years ago and went on a yarn-buying--oops, stash-enhancing--spree. I read the labels of many of these yarns, and saw the expected "100% New Zealand merino" and such (merino wool is the softest sheep wool around).

Then I came to some yarn that said "65% merino, 35% possum." I was revolted. I said, "How can you buy stuff like this?!" I mean, BFF is a Quaker and just barely *this side* of being a vegetarian. She definitely is not, as I am, in favor of violence to squirrels or other garden pests, so finding yarn with the word "possum" on its ingredient label was more than shocking: it was stomach-churning.

She explained that it was a whole 'nother species, a pest species dangerous to cows and sheep, and that it was also a threat to native forests and plants, stripping trees of their leaves, etc. That New Zealand had, after long discussions and a couple of non-violent alternatives which just didn't work, thrown in the towel and was now waging all-out war on these pests. One way to avoid it being a total waste of animal product and human effort was to use the pelts/coats in clothing.

I still find it disturbing (weird, the little compartments we put different animals into), but at least I understand *why* the New Zealanders had to do it. After all, the Aussies had to do something drastic about the rabbits, too. Island nations don't have the luxury that continental nations do; their ecologies are more restricted, and negative effects run the full cycle more quickly. The possums and the rabbits made their effects felt quite soon, and the people and their governments had to take--and did take--action.

(BTW, I haven't seen a possum/opossum/diprododont since we moved to El Cerrito in 1997, and we seem to live west of raccoon territory. I've seen a raccoon on our street only once, and evidence of raccoon visitation one other time since then. I'm happy about both of these circumstances; if I never see another possum/etc. or raccoon in my yard, it'll be too soon.)

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GardenGnome
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I get this one that comes in my dog door.
[img]https://i1268.photobucket.com/albums/jj565/ericmgilson/2012-03-05_07-49-31_226.jpg[/img] wait.... that's my dog.
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sheila m
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Re: Are Possums Good or Bad to Have Around?

Just encountered my first opossum - last night.
2:30 am - 18/Sept/2016. Weather: 24C extremely humid.
Zone 4 - so it may not make it through our winter.
Ontario, Canada

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Are Possums Good or Bad to Have Around?

One thing about possums that has been in the news lately is that opossums can help clear your yard of ticks. Apparently when the tick lands on the opossum, the animal licks it off and eats it. Other warm blooded animals don't do that very much, so the tick when full just drops off and goes on to bite you. One possum can get rid of thousands of ticks in a season.

https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/stor ... /70221442/
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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applestar
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Re: Are Possums Good or Bad to Have Around?

Ha. Thats kind of interesting... A MOBILE live bait-and-trap-and destroy :lol: Imagine if it was turned into a business like clearing weeds with goats LOL
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HoneyBerry
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Re: Are Possums Good or Bad to Have Around?

Horse people tend to dislike possums. I think that the possums do something bad to their horses.
I see them in my yard once in a while. They are mild mannered.
There used to be an 800 number to call for possum assistance. An insurance woman who loved possums. It was different.
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