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Problem Animal
Opossum

Grouping  Omnivore
Nicknames  Possum, Really Big Rat, File Tail, Grinner, @#$%^&*!
Best Known For North America’s only marsupial (pouched). Lying dead in the middle of the road (literally). Playing dead when threatened (catatonic state). Also will hiss, screech, show teeth and emit a foul smelling greenish fluid from rear anal glands. Can hang from tail. Excellent climber.
Life Span 1 to 4 years. Many young die the first year.
Mating Season January through June.
Reproductive Details Usually only 1 litter per year in northern areas and 2-3 per year in southern regions. Up to 15 young per litter. Born blind and hairless after a 13 day gestation period. Young must travel to the pouch immediately after birth remaining there 7 to 8 weeks. Juveniles often noticed clinging to and riding on the mother’s back.
Dispersal Live locally. Often young leave mom when still as small as a kitten.
Habitat Rural, suburban and urban environments. Any place shelter is available. Under sheds, decks, porches. Will invade attics, basements, outbuildings, barns and undersides of mobile homes. Woodlots, fields and farms.
Activity Cycle Typically nocturnal. Not uncommon to be out during mornings and evenings.
Food Almost everything. They are the Billy Goat of the wild. Scavengers. Cat and dog food left out on porches, compost bins, trash cans.
Damage Signs Torn down insulation in crawlspaces and under modular homes. Knocked over refuse containers. Fecal matter, trampled insulation in attics and crawl spaces.
Treatment Trap and remove problem animals, exclude from structures and remove tempting food sources (i.e. compost pile and outdoor cat feeding stations).
Distinguishing Features Gray to white and silver fur. Long, pointed snout. Pink nose. Hand-like feet, noticeable ears and a round scaly hairless tail. Have 50 teeth: more than any other mammal. Hind feet have “thumb-like” toe that aids in climbing and grasping.
Risk Pose little threat to humans or animals beyond the surprise created in an unexpected encounter with an opossum at the birdfeeder, outside cat dish, shed or crawlspace. Leptospirosis in horses – transmitted from opossum urine deposits in feed hay. Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) is a progressive, degenerative neurological disease of the central nervous system in horses. The opossum is known as the definitive host of the parasite that causes this disease.    
 

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