Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wild Wednesday, The Opossum not the Possum

Last year Michigan had a really cruel winter and this little guy was driven from his daytime slumber to come eat sunflower seeds that had fallen from our bird feeder. Opossums are nocturnal, but just because you see an Opossum during the day does not mean it has rabies. Most likely, especially in winter, it's not getting enough to eat at night, so it must also forage during the day, like when we raid the cookie jar for a midnight snack.
There is a difference between the Possum and the Opossum, that's more than just the spelling. They are different animals all together. The Possum lives in New Guinea and Australia, they have fur on their tails. The Opossum is the one shown here. Both are marsupials.
The Opossum is not native to the Michigan area. They were brought here by fur traders from Virginia with the hope that they would reproduce and populate the area. They did indeed, however at a price. Opossum's were never meant to live in our harsh winters and many times they loose their toes, and the tips of their tails to frost bite.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

it is rare for opossoms to carry rabies because their body temp is very low and won't sustain the fleas/virus that carries the disease. I found this out while researching them. We have one living under our deck and with 4 cats I was concerned about rabies. The cats actually pose more of a health problem to the opossom. The benefits outweigh the risk too. We have NO slugs or snails to speak of. They will also eat mice, spiders, rats, and other pesky critters.

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