A Nuisance or Just Looking For Warmth? Be Kind to Michigan Opossums
As the nights get colder and winter weather approaches, we all are looking for even the smallest way to keep warm, right? Well, what about the commonly known as "pesky" opossums?
It's no secret Michigan wildlife is roaming out in the cold and find ways to survive in the winter and while many of us usually see these little critters waddling around at night...or as roadkill.
However, there is actually something pretty special about these creatures.
North America's Only Marsupial
There are so many interesting facts about opossums but this is probably among the most interesting!
When you think "marsupials" you probably think of animals in Australia like koala bears and kangaroos but, as it turns out, opossums are part of the family too.
They are also very good at clearing out Michigan's tick population. The Oakland County Blog reports, citing Rick Ostfeld, Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, "opossums act like little vacuum cleaners when it comes to ticks."
They also add that a single opossum can "hoover up" upwards of 4,000 ticks A WEEK.
“Opossums are extraordinarily good groomers it turns out – we never would have thought that ahead of time – but they kill the vast majority – more than 95% percent of the ticks that try to feed on them," Ostfeld said. "So these opossums are walking around the forest floor, hoovering up ticks right and left, killing over 90% of these things, and so they are really protecting our health."
Michigan Winters Can Be a Struggle
Per North American Nature, opossums actually do not hibernate for the winter like many other mammals. They do slow down a bit but also still stay in their nocturnal habits.
They also confirm that they are very prone to frostbite and may approach your yard, your home or your trash can in search of food or warmth.
I say "confirm" as I saw this post come across my Facebook feed today and it made my heart break for these little critters:
What to do if One Finds Its Way to You
Try to be kind. Sure, by bearing their teeth, they may seem like a threat. Them nesting in areas around your home may be bothersome, however, North American Nature also says they are not very stationary animals and like to move from den to den to avoid predators.
Your options when it comes to removing them include calling animal control or another reputable wildlife removal service or, maybe consider just leaving them be. Maybe consider even helping them out, waiting it out until they find a new spot to shack up in.
All this talk about opossums reminds me of a bit performed by Brooks Wheelan where he tried to be kind to a opossum he found in the family garage only for his dad to do the exact opposite of what we've been explaining:
Don't be like Brooks' dad. Be kind, be gentle and be patient. Opossums don't pose a threat to us, unless you mess with them first...plus, they're just so dang cute.
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