Opossums Help Prevent The Spread Of Lyme Disease

June 14, 2017 | Posted In: Wildlife

Many people have mixed feelings when it comes to opossums. Some people hate opossums, and other people just tend to generally dislike them. The hate that so many people feel towards opossums probably arises from experience with opossum related shenanigans. Blaming opossums for destroyed or messy property is a common, and understandable, source of frustration that many have with these critters. Even finding an animal lover that is verbal about the plight of opossums seems unlikely. This general distaste for opossums is typically unfounded as opossums can actually be rather cute creatures, but they are not spotted often, so many people remain unaware of what they look like. However, if you need a straightforward reason to make opossums your new favorite wild animal, then consider the strong possibility that opossums help to slow the spread of Lyme disease within the human population.

Of course, humans are not the only targets for blood-sucking ticks. All other mammals are fair game for ticks as well, and this includes opossums. Unlike us humans, opossums are quite good at knowing when a tick is burrowing in their skin. If a tick lands on an opossum, then it is highly unlikely that that tick will survive long enough to cause infection. This is due to the surprising fact that opossums are active groomers, so opossums may not be as unkempt as you imagine them to be.

It is impossible for an opossum to avoid ticks. Opossums dwell within tick-infested environments, and their underbellies are constantly making contact with the forest-floor. Luckily for opossums, and humans as well, their near constant grooming habits keep their bodies free of ticks, and, therefore, free of Lyme disease. According to experts, opossums kill ninety five percent of all blood-sucking ticks that land on them, and that is a whole lot of ticks that could eventually infect a human. So instead of thinking of opossums as big intrusive rats, think of them as animals that vacuum the ground for ticks.

Do you think that the amount of ticks that opossums kill is significant enough to reduce the amount of people who are diagnosed with Lyme disease?