Generally, no opossums, the only marisupal in North America, are not directly dangerous to people.
When encountered directly, the creatures hiss and growl. Even though they have sharp teeth and claws, opossum attacks are rare and unlikely. The main defense mechanism is pretending to be dead (playing possum) or emitting an awful stench from their anal glands when frightened.
Mostly considered minor nuisances, opossums become problematic when they decide to nest and forage near residential and commercial areas. Under sheds, decks, and porches, the critters build nests where they take shelter and raise their young. They prefer these enclosed spaces because they're safe from predators and harsh weather. Once these burrows are established, it can be hard to eliminate an opossum.
Opossums can also cause problems while looking for food. They are omnivores, and an opossum diet includes insects, small rodents, frogs, birds, and berries. Opossums can dig up your lawn looking for grubs, slugs, and insects. They steal eggs from chicken coops. They make a mess rummaging in garbage cans or eating pet food.
There are some benefits to opossums. They eat ticks which can spread Lyme disease to people. As scavengers, opossums will eat carrion (dead animals).
Opossums become dangerous with their ability to transmit diseases to pets and people. Known to carry leptospirosis, tuberculosis, coccidiosis, spotted fever, tularemia, and other diseases, pesky creatures pose serious health threats when they invade urban environments.
Opossums are rarely known to contract rabies because their body temperature is too low for the rabies virus. They are even less likely to pass it on to other organisms they come into contact with.
Furthermore, opossums serve as host animals to fleas, ticks, lice, and mites, which puts dogs and cats at risk of becoming infested with these parasites. Owners of horses should be aware of the dangers associated with opossums that carry a protozoan known as Sarcocystis neurona, which can lead to neurologic disease in the equines.
How to Get Rid of Opossums
The best course of action is to hire a professional wildlife removal specialist. Our teams of trained professionals are equipped to safely handle and remove troublesome opossums before they cause problems in yards or homes.