How opossums help fight ticks and Lyme disease


Opossums are nocturnal critters that may repel and disgust many, but they could be a important factor in keeping ticks and Lyme disease at bay. 

>> Read more trending news

On the heels of a mild winter in 2017-2018, one expert predicted a tick explosion this summer and that has parents concerned about the spread of Lyme disease. 

While some recommend spraying for ticks in your yard, opossums could be the natural key to warding off ticks. 

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, opossums kill around 90 percent of the ticks that attempt to attach and feed on them. 

The study notes opossums are particularly good at grooming themselves, which leads them to swallow most of the ticks that attach themselves. 

>> Related: University researchers find ways to battle Lyme disease in Florida

Based on a study conducted by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, researchers estimated opossums can kill about 5,000 ticks in one season.

“They’re net destroyers of ticks,” Cary Institute researcher Richard Ostfeld told NewsTimes.com

>> Related: Lyme disease cases on the rise : What is it and how to avoid it

Opossums are known for their ‘play dead’ tactic and that’s why some researchers urge people to avoid hitting opossums apparently lying dead in the road. 

Avoiding killing opossums could be a simple way of helping attack the tick population in your area. 

“Let’s embrace opossums and be thankful for the work they do in taking out ticks,” Krystina Snyder wrote in a letter to the Concord Monitor in May. 

According to the Dallas-Fort Worth Wildlife Coalition, “Opossums eat fruits, snakes (opossums are immune to all types of snake venom, except that of the coral snake), insects, snails, slugs, eggs, mice, rats, fish, frogs, crayfish, and carrion. If for no other reason than pest control, opossums are great to have around!”

>> Related: Tick bite? Get it tested to see if it’s carrying Lyme disease, here’s how

Opossums are the only marsupial native to North America. 


Reader Comments


Next Up in Nation World

Groom surprises bride, guests with Toys for Tots shopping spree
Groom surprises bride, guests with Toys for Tots shopping spree

Newly-married Jessica Bond walked into a Kissimmee, Florida, Target store with her wedding gown on. She’d just had her first dance with Brad Bond at her wedding reception. Then he announced she and all their wedding guests would be taking a break from the reception to contribute to a cause dear to their hearts: Toys for Tots. The couple&rsquo...
Athlete of the Week Northwestern Jr./Sr. High School
Athlete of the Week Northwestern Jr./Sr. High School

Name: Kyndall Berner School: Northwestern Jr./Sr. High School Grade: 12 Age: 18 Sports: Volleyball and Basketball Claim to fame/honors: A/B Honor Roll, perfect attendance, #1 in digs CBC, #4 in passing CBC, Jan Van Gorder Scholar (two years), three years varsity letter for basketball and volleyball, AVCA and OHSVCA team academic awards (2016 and 2017)...
Student of the Week Northwestern Jr./Sr. High School
Student of the Week Northwestern Jr./Sr. High School

Name: Asa Chen School: Northwestern Jr./Sr. High School Grade: 12 Age: 18 Extra-curricular: Wrestling, Kung Fu, Police Exploring, Marching Band, Younglife Claim to fame/honors: National Honor Society member, Jan Van Gorder Scholar Words you live by: “It doesn’t get easier, you just get better.” “Finish strong.” Toughest...
Foul-mouthed parrot uses Amazon Alexa to order things while owner is away
Foul-mouthed parrot uses Amazon Alexa to order things while owner is away

Rocco the parrot is in trouble again. The parrot, which  was kicked out of the National Animal Welfare Trust sanctuary for swearing too much, has learned how to use Amazon’s Alexa and decided to shop online when his owner was away, according to The Sunday Times. Rocco, who is an African grey parrot and lives in Berkshire, U.K., reportedly...
Trucker rescues dogs thrown from vehicle along highway 
Trucker rescues dogs thrown from vehicle along highway 

A passing trucker stopped Saturday morning to rescue two beagle mixes that were thrown from a moving vehicle along a snowy New York highway.  >> Read more trending news  One of the dogs was badly injured and had to have a leg amputated, the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin reported.  "These animals have been through a...
More Stories