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Do Possums Bite?

August 11, 2023 - Opossums

Author - Tom Miche

do possums bite

Possums, also known as opossums, are generally not aggressive animals and are unlikely to bite unless they feel threatened or cornered. However, like any wild animal, they may bite if they are provoked, scared, or feel the need to defend themselves. It's important to remember that possums are more likely to hiss, growl, and show defensive behaviors such as baring their teeth or playing dead (than biting) when faced with a perceived threat.

If you encounter a possum in your vicinity, it's best to keep your distance and avoid any attempts to handle or provoke them. If you have concerns about a possum on your property, it's recommended to contact a professional pest control service that specializes in humane wildlife removal. They can assess the situation and take appropriate measures to manage the possum in a safe and ethical manner.

If you have a possum infestation that requires immediate attention, or if you're dealing with other pest-related issues, don't hesitate to call a reliable pest control service. Their expertise can help you effectively address the situation while prioritizing the safety of both humans and animals involved. If you need assistance locating a reputable pest control service in your area, feel free to ask for recommendations.

Why Do Possums Bite?

Possums, marsupials belonging to the family Didelphidae, are generally not aggressive animals and do not bite humans unless they feel threatened or cornered. Their biting behavior is primarily a defensive mechanism rather than an aggressive one. Here are some reasons why possums might bite:

  • Perceived Threat: Possums have a natural instinct to protect themselves when they feel threatened. If a possum perceives a human or another animal as a potential predator, it might bite in an attempt to defend itself.

  • Cornered or Trapped: When possums feel cornered or trapped, they might resort to biting as a last-ditch effort to escape. This behavior is common when they are caught in confined spaces or confronted in situations where they cannot easily flee.

  • Protecting Offspring: Female possums can become aggressive if they feel their young (joeys) are in danger. A mother possum might bite to protect her offspring from potential threats.

  • Pain or Injury: Possums might also bite if they are injured or in pain. When in discomfort, they might lash out defensively if approached by humans or other animals.

  • Territorial Behavior: Possums are territorial creatures. If they feel their territory is being invaded, they might exhibit defensive behavior, including biting.

While possums can bite, they are not typically a significant threat to humans. Avoiding close contact with possums and giving them space is the best way to prevent bites. If you encounter a possum in your vicinity and are concerned about its presence, it's a good idea to contact a professional pest control service. They can provide expert advice on safely managing possums and other wildlife.

Possum Bites

If you get bitten by a possum, it's important to take prompt and appropriate action to minimize the risk of infection and complications. Here's what to do if you're bitten by a possum:

  1. Clean the Wound:

    • Wash the wound gently but thoroughly with soap and warm water. This helps remove any dirt, debris, or potential contaminants from the bite.

    • Use an antiseptic solution, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine to further cleanse the wound and reduce the risk of infection.

  2. Control Bleeding:

    • If the bite is bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or sterile bandage to stop the bleeding. Elevating the wound can also help reduce bleeding.

  3. Apply an Antibiotic Ointment:

    • Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to the wound to prevent infection. This can also keep the wound moist for proper healing.

  4. Cover the Wound:

    • Cover the wound with a sterile bandage or dressing to protect it from further contamination. Change the dressing daily and watch for signs of infection.

  5. Seek Medical Attention:

    • Regardless of the size of the wound or severity of the bite, it's advisable to seek medical attention. Possum bites can introduce bacteria into the wound, leading to infections such as cellulitis.

    • A healthcare professional will assess the wound, provide appropriate treatment, and may prescribe antibiotics to prevent or treat infections.

  6. Watch for Signs of Infection:

    • Keep a close eye on the wound for signs of infection, such as increasing redness, swelling, warmth, pus, or worsening pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

  7. Update Tetanus Vaccination:

    • If your tetanus vaccination is not up to date or you're unsure, your healthcare provider may recommend a tetanus booster shot, especially if the wound is deep or contaminated.

  8. Report the Incident:

    • If the possum bite occurred in an area where possums are not typically encountered, consider reporting the incident to local wildlife authorities. This information can help monitor potential changes in possum behavior or population.

Possum bites are rare, and possums are generally not aggressive towards humans. However, taking prompt and thorough action after a bite is essential to ensure proper wound care and prevent potential complications. Always consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice based on the specific circumstances of the bite.

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