The Link between Opossums and Ticks

gray and white opossum on leaves

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Our perception of reality when it comes to understanding wildlife behavior is often not the same as the actual reality. Sadly, that fact combined with our preconceived notions about a species often prevents us from understanding the facts as they truly are. The opossum is near the top of the list of our most misunderstood, maligned, and at times, feared creatures. In reality, opossums should be among the most loved creatures that not only share our urban, suburban, and rural habitats, but also thrive in them. They are guardians of our health and warriors against one of the most troublesome creatures in our midst, ticks.

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The Opossum: Our Marvelous Marsupial

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

I’ve always had an infectious sense of wonder when it comes to close encounters with wildlife, but sometimes the very best encounters are totally unexpected, and it’s often with creatures that never seem to make anyone’s “must-see” list.

It was an unusually warm, snowless winter day at the end of January. I had just sprawled out on the ground with my camera resting on a fallen tree to position it for the best angle to photograph a beaver lodge at the edge of a secluded cedar swamp. Slight rustling in the dry leaves drew my attention. I turned to my left and an inquisitive young opossum was just a few feet away—not playing dead, not backing off, and not advancing. It watched me ever so intently as we both moved slightly about for better views of each other. The opossum inched closer and then we were eye to eye. It seemed to freeze in place. So did I. Continue reading