Are Opossums Dangerous? The Absolute Answer

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One of the most common questions that come up about opossums is related to how dangerous they can be. They are small animals and are usually only a couple of feet in total length. They do not usually exceed more than 10 to 15 pounds in total weight. With that being said, they are not really dangerous to humans but some animals should be concerned when an opossum is nearby. 

Opossums are not a threat to humans. They can be dangerous to household pets and some opossums carry and spread harmful diseases. Opossums will hiss and sometimes and even play dead when approached by humans, or other animals, so in most cases, they do not pose any kind of threat.

Due to their small size and general fear of humans, opossums don’t pose any threat to humans. They are known for causing property damage and can be considered a pest to some.

They can invade your home and damage items that may be lying around in your yard or garden. There are ways to deter possums from invading your property and we’ll be briefly discussing that in the upcoming sections of this post. 

Opossums Aren’t Very Large or Dangerous

Most small animals aren’t capable of placing humans in danger. Opossums are very small animals and generally weigh only around 10 to 15 pounds. This doesn’t mean that you would want to approach an opossum.

Many people may be aware of the common trend of opossums ‘playing dead’ when they come across a creature that may pose a threat to them. This is not the act of an aggressive animal. Opossums usually get a bad rap for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. When touched or approached, opossums will sometimes open their mouths and hiss, this is just a defense mechanism, as they are really mostly harmless. Source.

This is one of the reasons that they pose such a little threat to humans. Any action that places fear into an opossum will likely force them into the uncontrollable state of playing dead. This means that there is only a small chance that a human could be attacked effectively by an opossum. 

How aggressive are opossums?

Is it Safe to Touch a Possum?

You should not touch a wild opossum. Wild animals can scratch, claw, bite, and worse. If you want to see an opossum, you should view them at a distance. Touching or holding an opossum is not extremely dangerous, you would not be in threat of your life, however, if you are not experienced with holding wild animals, then you should avoid it.

Opossums Don’t Usually Come Out During The Daytime

Opossums prefer to only come out at night rather than expose themselves in the daytime. In other words, opossums are a nocturnal species. This is another reason that they pose very little danger to humans. It’s extremely unlikely that a human is going to be out adventuring at the same hour of the night when an opossum is active in the wilderness.

See our article for Nocturnal Opossums

Do Possums Attack Humans or Dogs?

Humans shouldn’t really be fearful of opossums, but humans that have small pets may have to be concerned and take precautionary actions to prevent an opossum attack. In addition, there are a few common diseases that may be spread by an opossum to your dog or other household pet.

While it’s not completely unheard of for an opossum to come into conflict with a small cat or dog, it’s extremely rare and unlikely that an opossum would hurt either of these types of animals. Opossums generally only are capable of posing a threat to animals that are much smaller than them.

Are possums dangerous to dogs? Not really.

Animals That Are Vulnerable To Opossums

Which animals are vulnerable to opossums? Small birds are generally vulnerable to opossums. They are also known to eat insects, frogs, and worms. Sometimes possums don’t eat animals in their diet and eat small types of fruit instead.

From a different perspective, opossums could still be dangerous to some types of animals. It is not uncommon for opossums to carry harmful diseases that could place cats or dogs in jeopardy with their health. A common list of diseases that may be spread by opossums is provided below. 

  • Leptospirosis
  • Tularemia
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Coccidiosis
  • Tuberculosis

So to summarize, it’s far more likely for an opossum to spread a dangerous disease than it would be for an opossum to attack a human. They can also cause small amounts of property damage to the foundation of your home, or other home items.

How to Deter Opossums

The best way to deter opossums is to fortify your yard. Close up any gaps in your fencing, and your house’s foundation. Opossums are not as big of a pest as some may think. Usually, another animal is guilty of damage, and the opossum was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Opossums are opportunistic foragers. So if they come to your yard in search of food, chances are they are following another animal and feeding from the carrion. You can also use scents from predators and other obnoxious smells, such as coyote scent, fox scent, garlic, onions. Opossums rely on their acute sense of smell to find food, so something repugnant is going to deter them. Source.

Related Questions

Are opossums friendly?

Opossums can appear to be friendly. It’s extremely unlikely for an opossum to physically attack a human. They are extremely small in size compared to humans and are more likely to ‘play dead’ instead of attacking a person. However, just because they appear friendly does not mean that you should risk approaching them.

Are opossums dangerous to small cats and dogs?

Opossums can pose a little bit of danger to small cats or dogs. It’s unlikely that an opossum would successfully harm either type of animal, mainly because opossums are so small. They can spread harmful diseases to small pets which could create future health problems.

Chad Fox