Despite being subjected to some hilarious memes, opossums are not very liked animals among humans. People often view them as pests, which keep breaking into their trash cans for a quick snack and hisses at them when caught red-handed. However, there’s probably no need to call animal control each time a gang of these critters visits your garden. In fact, they do a lot more good than you probably think. Opossums are the unsung heroes who are responsible for silently reducing Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, not only in other animals but also in humans. How do they do that? Well, it turns out their favorite snack is not a leftover meal from your garbage bin. They prefer to eat ticks and it is estimated that they eat 5000 of them per season.
Recently, a trail camera captures a heartwarming moment between an opossum and a deer
Recently, Vermont Wildlife Coalition shared a heartwarming snap proving how helpful opossums are at eradicating ticks. Captured by a trail camera, the photo shows an opossum eating ticks directly off of a deer’s face. The photo, which quickly went viral, perfectly demonstrates a symbiotic relationship between two different species, who learned to co-exist and help each other out.
Image credits: ramendan
It also highlights that opossums are tasked with something very important — they are nature’s ‘cleaners’. Not only do these nocturnal animals combat ticks, but they also eradicate pests such as mice (which also spread infectious diseases such as Lyme), snakes, slugs and garden pests.
Image credits: James Gates
And if you ever thought that they are dirty and gross, you couldn’t be more wrong. These critters groom and clean themselves as much as cats do. Also, they usually cannot contract or spread rabies due to their very low body temperature.
Image credits: Tony Alter
While they try their best to look intimidating, they are quite easily frightened. They tend to play dead, hiss and even faint when they’re scared. They are also quite adorable. However, being wild creatures, they often carry fleas, parasites, and even diseases. So it’s best to leave them alone if you get a chance to encounter them. With that in mind, it’s best advised not to keep them as pets, as it is even illegal in many states to do so.
Image credits: born1945
Speaking of their favorite snack, ticks are often encountered in a humid, wooded, bushy environment where they patiently wait for unsuspecting hosts such as mice, deer and other mammals including humans. These blood-sucking insects are probably the only transmitters of Lyme disease.
Image credits: Kathy
Each year, around 14,000 humans contract Lyme disease in the US. The first symptoms of this disease often resemble the flu and are sometimes followed by a slowly-spreading bull’s-eye-shaped rash where the tick attached. While the disease is rarely fatal, it can cause such debilitating health problems as facial paralysis, heart palpitations, arthritis, severe headaches, and neurological disorders.
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