Possums Are Awesome Because They Protect You Against Lyme Disease

Photo Credit: Flickr

Opossums may look scary but they do something few other animal can do: They eat ticks like they’re popcorn.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Ticks are highly attracted to opossums–almost twice as much as they are to other rodents. Thousands of them end up on these fastidiously clean animals. As opossums groom themselves, they eat every tick they find.

Ticks often carry dangerous diseases, including Lyme disease, which affects several hundreds of thousands of people in the United States every year. Symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash, joint pain and fever.

Recently, researchers at Syracuse University ran a study that compared opossums with squirrels and mice to see which animal was the most effective in eradicating ticks.

They discovered a single opossum can attract and kill around 5,500 ticks every week.

Every week!

Disease ecologist, Rick Ostfelt, explained,

“Opossums are extraordinarily good groomers it turns out – we never would have thought that ahead of time – but they kill the vast majority – more than 95% percent of the ticks that try to feed on them. So these opossums are walking around the forest floor, hoovering up ticks right and left, killing over 90% of these things, and so they are really protecting our health.

Ticks are responsible for spreading many of the infectious diseases that sicken Americans. Their threat is only increasing with new diseases–and even new tick species–still being discovered.

So, the next time you see an opossum walking and hissing through your backyard, don’t get grossed out or try to kill it. Just let it do its thing.

Cause really it’s are doing you a huge favor by keeping your outdoor surroundings clean of ticks.

Plus, they also eat cockroaches and slugs, and they don’t get rabies due to their cooler body temperature.

As far as varmints go, opossums are pretty good to have around!