Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Opossums — Your garden rubbish men


I ran across a gardening article on opossums and thought I’d do a bit of research on them this week. I’ve one that wanders into my yard and hangs out under the bird feeder several times a week about 8 pm. The first time I saw him lumbering along the fence I thought it was an ocean rat. But of course I’m about 60 miles from the ocean and possums move very slowly, not at all like those salt water rats.

The LA Times claims possums are a great clean up crew. They eat snails, slugs and roaches. Opossums do not dig in your garden. That would be the squirrels or perhaps raccoons. Opossums rarely take fruit off of plants, preferring the fruit already on the ground.

They are also scavangers eating road kill or very decayed dead creatures that may be in your garden. ( eewww! )

They run when threatened. If that doesn’t work they will bare their teeth, drool and hiss and if that doesn’t scare you off they then play dead. Playing dead isn’t just play acting. They actually enter a coma like state.

They rarely have rabies, opossums body temperatures are too low for the virus to grow well in their bodies.

Opossums are the only marsupial in North America. Marsupials carry their new borns in a pouch. There are 13 teats in the pouch and the babies remain there for about two months. They then spend a month to a month and a half traveling on mom’s back. Females can have up to three litters a year.

More information:
Opossums: your garden’s evening clean up crew
Nature Works – Virginia Opossum