Smiling Opossums: Scared, Not Happy

You know all those adorable memes, showing opossums “smiling” while being handled? It’s common for people who find orphaned or injured opossums to project that the animal knows it’s being helped or is happy to be cuddled and pet. Some unethical exhibitors will even distribute photos of smiling opossums as evidence that they love toContinue reading “Smiling Opossums: Scared, Not Happy”

The Opossum Rabies Bluff

Opossums are great fakers. In addition to very convincingly “playing dead,” their other common defense mechanism is to stagger, sway, drool, open their jaws, and hiss when frightened. To anyone with a passing familiarity with rabies— even if only from old movies— it’s easy to mistake these behaviors for symptoms of a serious and fatalContinue reading “The Opossum Rabies Bluff”

Oops! Opossums Don’t Actually Eat Ticks

We goofed. Like many organizations, we’ve spent several years claiming that opossums eat a large number of ticks, and that they help to combat the spread of tickborne illness. We had fact-checked our information— we always do!— and claims about opossums as tick-eaters were supported by credible sources like the Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesContinue reading “Oops! Opossums Don’t Actually Eat Ticks”

Opossum Bites: Not So Scary!

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,Continue reading “Opossum Bites: Not So Scary!”

These Animals Don’t Dig Burrows!

No animal deserves to die for doing what comes naturally to it, but it’s especially upsetting when animals are killed for something they don’t actually do. Cottontail rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and tree squirrels all get killed routinely by people worried that they will dig burrows in their lawns. European rabbits dig burrows, so many peopleContinue reading “These Animals Don’t Dig Burrows!”

Opossums Need Shelter to Survive Winter

Opossums are, ultimately, tropical animals. Out of over 100 opossum species in the world, nearly all live in the hot deserts and rainforests and Central and South America. Opossums aren’t equipped with adaptations for surviving winter: they can’t hibernate, and they have naked feet, tails, and ears that are highly susceptible to frostbite. Our nativeContinue reading “Opossums Need Shelter to Survive Winter”

Opossums: Nature’s Savants

You may have read about (or met) people with savant syndrome. Formerly called “idiot savants,” people with savant syndrome have significant learning disabilities but also display exceptional intelligence at times, often to the shock of those who underestimate them. Opossums are the natural world’s own example of savant syndrome! If you were to look atContinue reading “Opossums: Nature’s Savants”

Trees Don’t Litter

If you’d ever seen how quickly our raccoon patients can devour twenty pounds of acorns or forage through six inches of fallen leaves for bugs, you’d understand exactly why there’s no need to “clean up” the gifts trees leave us in autumn! Many native animals in our area cannot survive winter without the bounty ofContinue reading “Trees Don’t Litter”