Possums can be a common sight in Australia. They can make their dens around human homes or even inside them. That has many people worried and wondering whether possums can be dangerous. In this article, we ask whether possums are dangerous and what to do if there are possums in your home.
Are Possums Dangerous?
The first thing to consider is whether there is a risk of injury or health when there are possums living nearby. Possums, specifically the Common Brushtail Possum, can often be found around urban areas as it has adapted to life near humans really well.
As a result, it is not uncommon for people to hear their activity at night, specifically you can hear them walking on roofs or growling at night. If they’ve entered the home, you can hear them move around the attic or ceiling.
However, this can be worrying. With their proximity, people can sometimes worry that they will be dangerous. And there can be some concerns with a possum nearby, but the dangers might not be as you think.
Will a Possum Defend Itself?
Possums are considered to be docile. If they are disturbed, most of the time they will freeze, assess what has disturbed them, and then will choose either to flee or continue. When disturbed by humans, most possums will wait a few moments and then continue, because they don’t see humans as particularly threatening.
However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t defend themselves. Most humans, when they see a possum, will tend to watch them. Therefore, possums have learned that we are generally harmless to them.
However, if you get too close or show some aggression, possums will tend to defend themselves. There are several tricks that they can do. The first thing is that they bear their teeth or they might try to play dead (known as playing possum).
Generally, however, they will move away. That is unless they are cornered and can’t escape. If this is the case, they can bite you or an attacker. Possum teeth are sharp and can cause significant damage. They are also known to claw at potential attackers and their sharp claws are capable of ripping the bark of trees, so the damage they can do to human skin can be damaging.
Damage to Property
Another potential risk with possums is that they can cause damage to properties. For instance, they can damage roofing and structures to make homes less warm during cold nights or disturb insulation or other chemicals that can cause harm to you.
However, this is one of the least risky problems that you will get with possums.
Possums and Diseases
The biggest risk for possums is to do with diseases that they carry. There are numerous diseases that possums can carry, and these can be passed onto humans through numerous different pathways, including through close contact with the possum or by being close to their droppings/den.
There are also direct and indirect illnesses that you can catch. For instance, some are not caused by the possum itself, but rather by mites and ticks that can be carried by the possum that falls off the individual and then come into contact with you.
There are numerous illnesses that you should be on the lookout for. These include:
- Lyme Disease
These diseases can have nasty side effects that can include abscesses, fistulas, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and renal failure. They can also cause significant breathing difficulties for those who have asthma.
Another problem that might happen is that the ticks and mites might carry different diseases.
The possum doesn’t need to be in direct contact with you to pass on any disease. They can leave their droppings behind and these can be carriers. Therefore, what you want to do is to clean up any mess that has been left by a possum using disposable gloves and equipment. For any clothes that you are going to wash, place them in a high-temperature wash to ensure any bacteria or viruses are killed.
How to Remove Possums
Are possums dangerous to humans? Yes, but not directly typically. Therefore, if you have a possum that is living in your home, then you must consider how you can remove the possum safely.
Some laws prevent the trapping and forcible removal of the possum. This law is there because possums become very attached to their home, and moving one could result in their unfortunate death.
Therefore, the best treatment is to make your home the least attractive location for the possum. To do this, you should follow these pieces of advice.
Repair Access Points – Possums will gain access to your home by using holes in walls and roofs. Fixing these prevents the possum from gaining access.
Offer a Better Home – Build a possum den in a tree far from your home that is closer to food suppliers. This on its own won’t move the possum, but it makes for a more attractive home when you do some of the other activities on the list.
Ultrasonic Devices – You can use ultrasonic devices to make noises that irritate the possum and convince it to leave. These are generally considered to be very humane, so they are a great option.
Motion-Activated Devices - these use an infrared sensor to detect the body heat of animals and birds. Once triggered, it deploys a startling burst of water combined with unexpected noise and motion creating a safe, highly effective deterrent against all kinds of pests.
Remove Food Sources – Another important feature is to remove food options from your property. Secure bins so that possums cannot access them and ensure no potential food is left outside.
Contact Pest Controller – You might need to get a pest controller out to help you relocate the possum through their most effective means.
Final Word: How Dangerous are Possums?
Can possums be dangerous? Yes, they can offer some risk to humans, especially if they feel threatened and can’t escape. However, they do prefer to run away rather than confront an attacker. The biggest danger from a possum is that it can carry numerous diseases and these can be spread from the possum to the human through direct contact, indirect contact (i.e through mites/ticks), and droppings. Keeping your home hygienic is important, so always make sure that you properly clean up.