Opossum Bites: Not So Scary!

A comparison of the bite strength of opossums, humans, coyotes, Rottweilers, and hyenas, in pounds per square inch.

Opossums get killed frequently for looking “scary” or “fierce,” but they’re actually much weaker and less intimidating than they look! An opossum has fifty pointy teeth— more than any other land mammal— and will use those chompers to try to scare people away when they’re frightened.

While we don’t recommend getting bitten by any animals, opossums are some of the least dangerous and least intimidating critters you might encounter! Inch per inch, their bites are much weaker than those of a domestic dog, and about a third as strong as a human. You’d be much more likely to get seriously injured by an angry kid in a daycare.

While any puncture wound can get infected, opossum bites aren’t as dangerous as the bites of some other animals. Cats, for example, have bacteria-ridden saliva and teeth that seal anaerobic bacteria in a bite wound, making their bites some of the most dangerous. Opossums have cleaner mouths by comparison. Opossums are also among the least likely mammals to have rabies, so the risk of serious illness from an opossum bite is extremely low.

Please don’t fear opossums! They try to look scary when they need to, but they’re gentle, weak critters who just want to be left alone to fulfill their role in the natural world.

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