Possums don’t get very much respect in the animal kingdom. They’re generally seen as pesky rodents, best known for their ability to play dead.
But possums deserve a little recognition for the role they play in our local ecosystems. One viral photo is a reminder that possums are far more than just roadkill.
In October, a Vermont trail cam captured a unique slice of nature—a mutually beneficial partnership between a wild possum and a deer.
The possum is seen eating ticks of the deer’s head. The two animals look like trusted friends: the deer seems to be lowering his head so the possum can reach him on a platform.
The fascinating pic was posted by the Vermont Wildlife Coalition, where it has gone viral with nearly 50,000 shares.
The group says that while trappers don’t like possums because they set off traps set for coyotes, the photo is a reminder of how valuable the critters are to both animals and people.
“Opossums can eat up to 5000 ticks in a 2-3 month period, and are resistant to rabies due to their low body temperature,” Vermont Wildlife Coalition wrote. “Excellent allies in curbing this particular lyme disease vector.”
That sounds like a win-win all around. Sadly, many people don’t see it that way, and only think of possums as pests.
“Different people view opossums in different ways and the perception is changing, but historically many believed opossums were giant rodents that spread rabies,” a representative from Opossum Awareness & Advocacy told Bored Panda.
“Historically people would kill them as pests and also eat them. There are several areas where people still do kill them and see them as pests.”
Awareness of the benefits of possums, and the dispelling of many of the myths and fears about them, is key to ensuring that our healthy relationship with these animals continues.
“Opossums are probably the most misunderstood and underrated animal in the USA,” the representative said. “They deserve a public apology by many people and organizations that have harmed and maligned them in the past.”
So next time you see a possum in your neighborhood, don’t recoil in disgust… thank him for keeping you safe from ticks and Lyme disease!
Spread the truth about possums by sharing this story!