Do Possums Eat Rats?

Native to North America, possums, or Opossums as they are more correctly called, are omnivorous marsupials. Despite being voracious eaters, many people consider possums to be fairly useful. This is because they frequently eat pests that are seen as being far more bothersome than they are. One of their frequent targets is the common rat, which can spread sickness and pestilence among other things.

Here’s a quick rundown of how rats fit into possum diets along with a few other interesting facts about these fascinating animals’ feeding patterns.

Facts About Possums

The only marsupial in North America, the Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), is referred to as a “possum” or “opossum” throughout North America. All across the Americas are these common creatures. They are found from Central American jungles all the way up to the Canadian plains.

Many people refer to these creatures as “living fossils.” This is due to the fact that their bodies are thought to resemble those of mammalian species that existed in earlier times. This isn’t totally correct, though. The earliest fossils of opossums are from the same time periods as many modern mammals.

Opossums, like the majority of other marsupials, have a pouch where they store their young just after birth. Approximately 20 young are born to opossums in a particular period of time. These creatures stand out in part because of how quickly they gestate. An opossum gives birth to a litter in a mere 12 to 14 days.

Opossums are well known for their propensity to “Play Possum,” or pretend to be dead. These creatures can even mimic the scent of a dying animal because they are so skilled at this activity.

Possum Dietary Patterns

Being traditional omnivores, possums will consume anything they can get their hands on. This include small reptiles and amphibians, birds, eggs, plants, grains, and insects. These animals have an intriguing trait in that, depending on where they dwell in the planet, they drastically alter their food. A large portion of it is determined by the particular kind of ecosystem they live in.

An opossum living in the tropics, for instance, might consume more fruits and vegetables. various of the various tropical fruits that grow in these areas enable these animals to live. Conversely, an opossum living near fish will consume more fish, and so on.

Additionally, possums are opportunistic scavengers. When an animal dies, these creatures are the first to seize the chance to feed on its corpse.

The opossums themselves are appetizing as well. In the places where they are common, this has led to their inclusion in local rural cuisines. There have even been opossum farms established specifically for the purpose of raising the creatures in some areas, like Appalachia. Some regions of Latin America also often serve opossum as a meal.

Natural Pest Control

Owing to their omnivorous nature, possums also consume other small mammals, such as rats. In locations with heavy rat populations, the opossum is considered a quiet hero among those who live there because rats are known to bring disease.

This preference for eating rodents has occasionally even earned a few possums official titles. At the beginning of the century, these animals were occasionally utilized in rat-infested New York City to manage pests. Cockroaches and other insects that are frequently regarded as pests are also consumed by possums.

This program, however, was short-lived because many people thought the opossums were just as annoying as the rats. This is partly because opossums have strong odours and a predilection for eating rubbish. The animal’s abnormally high reproduction rate is a headache.

Being scavengers, possums are also excellent at handling natural waste items like road dead. Furthermore, it has been noted that opossums consume ticks. In some parts of the East Coast, a large number of tick species have grown quite common. Up to 4,000 of these bothersome pests can be consumed by one opossum each day.

Many opossum species have an added benefit to their anti-pest credentials: they are resistant to the effects of venomous snake bites. Additionally, possums will hunt and consume these kinds of snakes. This has made them more valuable in the perspective of locals who frequently encounter poisonous snakes. Some have even speculated that extremely poisonous new world snakes, such the Fer-de-Lance, may have evolved their strong venom to protect themselves against opossum predation.