While Louisiana is home to all kinds of pests, one particularly unique type is the opossum. Although many may know these creatures from the cliché, “playing possum”, which references their instinct to play dead when threatened, these pests aren’t necessarily always going to roll over.
Identifying an Opossum
Opossums look like large rats, with gray bodies and bright white faces with black stripes that feature a pink nose and whiskers. They also have long tails that look like those of a rat too, but which are prehensile. Their ears lack fur and stick up from their heads like a mouse’s. You’ll also notice they lack hair on their paws which appear almost humanlike, but with noticeable claws. These paws make for very distinct tracks, as a notable thumb is visible.
With over 100 different types of opossum, though, their appearance can vary.
These creatures are the only marsupials in all of North America, although they can often be seen carrying their young on their backs.
Most species of opossum can grow to be about the size of a housecat, with the males maxing out at seven pounds and the females growing to be between four and five.
It’s also important to learn about opossum habits in order to further identify them. These marsupials are nocturnal, so if they are infesting your property, you may only know about it from the signs they leave. They also tend to lead solitary lives, which is good, because it means removing just one of these creatures usually means the entire problem has been eradicated.
However, they give birth two or three times a year and have seven babies to a litter, on average. A female opossum, then, could create a larger issue in very little time.
The natural diet of the opossum features mainly grains, fruits and insects. That won’t necessarily stop them from passing up a free meal, though, if they come across your garbage can, compost pile, pet food dishes or even animals like chickens you may raise.
As opossums love habitats near to swamps and streams, Louisiana is a very attractive state to them. However, they can also become very comfortable in a number of other habitats, many of them native to this state as well. For example, it’s not uncommon to see them in open fields and wooded areas.
Of course, they are also plenty adept at making themselves right at home in your house. Opossums are naturally talented at finding any vulnerability in a building that they can then exploit for food or shelter. These pests have enjoyed living in people’s attics, sheds, barns, garages and any space they can find below these structures, decks or porches.
Fortunately, this animal isn’t much of a threat to humans. As we mentioned, if you approached one, it would most likely roll over and play dead. However, if cornered, it could lash out and try to bite you. For this reason, never attempt to remove an opossum on your own.
These pests are also experts at leaving a mess, whether it’s your garbage, pet food or anything else their appetite takes a liking to. In their quest to find food and shelter, they can easily do damage to your home.
Their strong odors are also unpleasant, but far worse is the types of diseases and parasites they may carry. Luckily, rabies is not a risk with opossums.
If you’re regularly waking up to find the aforementioned messes, hear scratching in your attic at night or recognize a foul odor around your home, opossums may be to blame. While they have built a reputation on their docility, it’s best to leave their removal to the professionals at Dugas Pest Control. Call today to learn more about our nuisance wildlife control programs, 1-888-606-9282.