Are Palo Alto Opossums Dangerous to Pets?

They look disgusting. The look like huge, white rats sent out to eat our animals and pick their teeth with the small bones. If you get too close to them, they growl, hiss, and bare their fifty sharp teeth at you. What animal are we talking about? A Palo Alto opossum. That’s right these scary critters look like they are ready to pounce on your leg and chew it off.

California opossums prefer to be left alone. These bizarre looking creatures are nocturnal and spend a good portion of their life foraging for food. They are the only marsupial that lives in North America. While they are hideous, they do have some good qualities.

Palo Alto opossums are omnivores, and this allows them to eat a variety of different kinds of food. This includes problematic pests such as beetles, roaches, snails, slugs and other insects that might cause issues. Not only that, but they can also control rats.

Opossums are one of the only animals in nature that are immune to venomous snake bites. They have a lot of natural defenses when it comes to protecting themselves. The term play possum was coined because of these animals. Their natural instincts to defend themselves are methods such as growling, urinating, belching, and hissing. However, if these methods don’t work, they will pretend they are dead. This often confuses the predators. Then when the predators come to eat them, the catch a whiff of the foul-smelling secretion from the California opossum’s anal gland.

Many people worry about their domestic pets. In most cases, opossums will avoid domestic animals. It is extremely rare for a Palo Alto opossum to attack a cat or a dog. However, they are wild animals, so, if the opossum plays dead and Fluffy is being persistent in the provoking, the opossum is very likely to defend itself. This may include scratching or biting. They will rarely almost never attack unprovoked.

The dangerous thing about a California opossum is the potential they have for carrying harmful diseases. They have been known to carry the pathogens for leptospirosis, tularemia, spotted fever and tuberculosis. Any one of these can make your pet extremely ill, and in some cases, fatal if action is not immediately taken.

Not only can they carry those diseases and many more, but they are also hosts to many problematic bugs. Palo Alto opossums are typically infested with fleas, ticks, lice, and mites. Any one of these pests can become problematic if they get on your beloved pet. A flea infestation is difficult to take care of, and if you have children, lice can spread not only to your pets but to your kids and even you. So, if you have an opossum lingering around your home, it’s best to call animal control.

Visit our Palo Alto wildlife removal home page to learn more about us.