The opossum is many things, but did you know that it was a voracious tick eater?
A few years ago, scientists wanted to learn about the part different mammals and other animals play in the spread of the ticks and Lyme disease. One study of six species of animals (white footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums, veerys, and catbirds) tested the creatures by exposing them to ticks.
When it was all said and done, one of them showed a remarkable skill: the opossum was amazingly good at removing them… and eating them!
This short video talks about the opossum and what it eats, but wait there’s more…
Richard Ostfeld, of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. said, “I had no suspicion they’d be such efficient tick-killing animals” Ostfeld also added with a smile, “Don’t hit opossums if they’ve playing dead in the road”
Opossums are crazy fastidious grooming animals like cats and when they find a tick, gulp- down the hatch. Researchers found many digested ticks in the feces of cooperative opossums (Cheers to the guy who got that job!).
Ostfeld said that one opossum can kill and eat some 5,000 ticks in a single season.
While they can’t get them all and certainly get bitten by a few, opossums will destroy some 90 percent of all the ticks they encounter. Knowing the effects of Lyme disease maybe the little mammals will get a better rap now in the animal world.