Are Opossums Dangerous? Will They Attack People and Pets?

Are opossums dangerous

In this post, we discuss if opossums are dangerous to humans, dogs, and cats and if they carry diseases and rabies.

Opossum behavior is not well known by most people. Very often people know very little about them, what they eat, how they behave.

We are more familiar with squirrels or raccoons, which we are more likely to encounter and observe their behavior.

The possum, however, is less well known. They are entirely nocturnal animals, so we rarely see them. They are also solitary and will avoid contact with humans.

Because of these reasons, we don’t know much about opossums.

When we see a possum, it is not cute like other animals. It looks more like a giant rat than a cute bunny or a squirrel. No one ever seems to want a pet possum.

Then when we encounter an opossum in our yard and we wonder, are opossums dangerous?

 

Are opossums dangerous animals?

Opossums are rarely dangerous.

Opossum showing teethThey are solitary animals, slow moving, and usually very docile.

Opossums co actually have a full mouth full of sharp teeth and may bear their teeth if threatened.

Even with those menacing looking teeth though, it is very unlikely that they would attack a person or other animals.

We have witnessed people poke an opossum with a stick while its teeth were showing and it still will usually not even attempt to bite.

 

Will opossums attack people?

It is very rare for an opossum to attack a human.

Any wild animal can become dangerous if cornered and threatened.  However, it is very unlikely that an opossum will attack a human.

They may bear their teeth. More than likely they will become still and maybe play dead. As long as you don’t try to pick them up, an opossum is very unlikely to try and bite you.

 

Will opossums attack dogs?

Opossum in treeIn reality, it is much more likely that a dog will attack an opossum than a possum will attack a dog.

As we said before, opossums are very docile. They are very non-confrontational. They avoid contact with humans and with other animals.

An opossum will choose to escape or play dead before it will go out of its way to threaten or attack a dog.

We recommend you keep your dog away from opossums, but more for the safety of the possum then for your dog. It is possible a cornered opossum could bite your dog, but even in that case, it is unlikely.

 

Will opossums attack cats?

Just like with dogs, it is much more likely that a cat will attack an opossum than an opossum will attack a cat.

Opossums are not aggressive animals, despite their impressive set of teeth. They would always prefer to avoid contact with other animals, including cats.

An opossum is much more likely to try to escape or play dead than to attack a cat.

 

Do opossums carry diseases?

Opossums can carry diseases that may be transmittable to humans including leptospirosis, coccidiosis, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. These can be transmitted through contact with opossum droppings.

 

Do opossums carry rabies?

rabies virusAll mammals are potential carriers of rabies. However, rabies is very uncommon in opossums. 

Very few opossums contract rabies, and if they have it, they very rarely transmit it to other animals.

It is much more common for rabies to occur in skunks, bats, and raccoons than in possums.

That said, just because it is a docile animal unlikely to carry rabies, we would recommend you NEVER attempt to touch or pick up a possum.

All wild animals can be unpredictable and even dangerous if they feel threatened, even the docile opossum. They can also carry fleas, ticks, and other diseases.

Always leave wild animals in the wild where they belong.

 


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More Opossum Resources:
Facts about opossums – Havahart
Opossum, Facts and Behavior – Mother Earth News
Opposums – Wikipedia

Are Opossums Dangerous? Will They Attack People and Pets? was last modified: October 29th, 2018 by Attic Solutions