Opossums Kill Ticks!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Seacowboys, May 2, 2016.


  1. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Opossums - killers of ticks
    Friday, April 18, 2014 from NewsTimes.com
    Robert Miller


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    Related
    Tick-borne Diseases
    Biodiversity, Lyme Disease,Wildlife & Habitat
    At night, when you catch sight of an opossum in your car headlights, you are allowed to think, "That is one ugly little animal."

    But what opossums lack in looks, they make up in originality.

    They're America's only babies-in-the pouch marsupial.

    They're a southern species -- proper name Virginia opossum -- that's adapted to New England winters.

    They're one of the oldest species of mammal around, having waddled past dinosaurs.

    They eat grubs and insects and even mice, working over the environment like little vacuum cleaners.

    "They really eat whatever they find," said Laura Simon, wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Humane Society.

    And they're an animal whose first line of defense includes drooling and a wicked hissing snarl -- a bluff -- followed by fainting dead away and "playing possum."

    "They are just interesting critters," said Mark Clavette, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

    And now ecologists have learned something else about opossums. They're a sort of magnet when it comes to riding the world of black-legged ticks, which spread Lyme disease.

    "Don't hit opossums if they've playing dead in the road," said Richard Ostfeld, of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.

    Ostfeld is forest ecologist and an expert on the environmental elements of infectious diseases like Lyme disease.

    Several years ago, scientists decided to learn about the part different mammals play in the spread of the ticks and the disease.

    They tested six species -- white-footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums and veerys and catbirds -- by capturing and caging them, and then exposing each test subject to 100 ticks.

    What they found, is that of the six, the opossums were remarkably good at getting rid of the ticks -- much more so that any of the others.

    "I had no suspicion they'd be such efficient tick-killing animals," Ostfeld said.

    Indeed, among other opossum traits, there is this: They groom themselves fastidiously, like cats. If they find a tick, they lick it off and swallow it. (The research team on the project went through droppings to find this out. All praise to those who study possum poop.)

    Extrapolating from their findings, Ostfeld said, the team estimated that in one season, an opossum can kill about 5,000 ticks.

    What ecologists are learning is how complex the interaction of ticks and mammals can be.

    For example, foxes probably serve as a host for ticks seeking a blood meal. But foxes are great at killing white-footed mice -- the species in the environment credited with being the chief reservoir of the Lyme bacteria.

    Likewise, Ostfeld said, opossums, waddling around at night, pick up lots of ticks. Some ticks end up getting their blood meal from the possum. But more than 90 percent of them ended up being groomed away and swallowed.

    "They're net destroyers of ticks," Ostfeld said.

    For Simon, of the U.S. Humane Society, the Cary Institute research is a welcome justification to just leave opossums be.

    "People are so hard on them," she said.

    That's in part because people think oppossums might be rabid when they drool and hiss and carry on when threatened. In fact, opossums are resistant to rabies.

    Meanwhile, they are not particularly pretty. People who "ooh" and "aah" over fawns and bluebirds may not extend the same love to pokey animals with triangular heads, white faces and naked tails.

    "I tell people 'We can't all be beautiful,' " Simon said.
     
  2. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Thanks @Seacowboys I never Knew! and it did make me laugh!
     
  3. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    I like burning off the woods to control ticks, redbugs, sumac, poison ivy and this thing this last weekend.
    I'm calling it a 'Copperhead'
    I hate these thing's simply because they think they are hidden and won't move.

    IMAG00323.
     
  4. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    Ganado and Gator 45/70 like this.
  5. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Camo works much better on us, than most animals. Deer, for one, have trouble with daylight details, but see movement very well, see better at night, and can see more into the ultraviolet than we can, so even camouflage clothing tends to glow a bit for then. However, they can not see reds. The rods and cones that respond to red are not in the eyes of deer, so hunter's orange is a pale yellow to them, yet vivid orange to us.
    That snake makes very good use of natural camouflage, and our own limitations. Some snakes even see and track by heat.
     
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  6. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    This particular one took a .36 grain in the bottom lip... and only moved an inch, With no bottom jaw
    Next round I think I missed, But the muzzle blast set him into panic mode!
    The following 23 rounds pounded everything including La Serpent'
    A 10/22 is a sweet serpent equalizer!
     
    Yard Dart, Motomom34 and chelloveck like this.
  7. Capt. Tyree

    Capt. Tyree Hawkeye

    Since opossums have a tick-eating purpose that I am now aware of, and I have a little family of them residing in my backyard storage shed, I'll live and let live with a clear and happy conscience.
     
    kellory, chelloveck and Gator 45/70 like this.
  8. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    That could be Mortimer Moose's adopted family....
     
  9. Tempstar

    Tempstar Losing Patience Site Supporter+

    Possums are really cool when you get to know them. We have one that comes up for a meal of cat food and is so used to us that he will not move when we walk by, and even endures me petting him on occasion. He knows his name (Fugly,I know, mean) and gets along with the cats. He even waits patiently for the evening meal, sitting among the cats. He has never acted aggressively towards us or the cats. Just a kind old soul searching out an easy meal I guess.
     
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  10. svjoe

    svjoe Angry Monkey

    Cool about killing the ticks, but still not a fan of the possum............


    Come to my house; we have those and rattlesnakes!!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2016
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  11. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    My daughter had one as a pet when she was about 7 yo. The dogs had got after the momma possum one night and one of the babies fell off. It would curl it's tail up in her hair and ride on her shoulder. It made a really good pet until one night she decided to sleep with it and accidentally smothered it.
    A funny story, my cousin's wife had a housecat that was losing weight and they couldn'the figure out why. They had taken it to the vet and ran all kinds of tests. They kept the food dish full all the time. One night my cousin came in late at night and not wanting to wake his wife he lay down on the couch. He heard a noise in the wee hours and looked up and saw this opossum waddling across the floor. It went into the kitchen and ate all the cat food then walked back across the living room. My cousin followed it to see where it was going. It went into the laundry room and crawled under the hot water tank. When he got a flashlight and looked there was a hole under it that went under the trailer house. He had spent hundreds of dollars on vet bills and it was that opossum eating all the cats food every night.
     
    Ganado, kellory and chelloveck like this.
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