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Old 08-28-2008
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Default Opossums

Hey there, how do you guys deal with opossums? I have dealt with them this week. A couple caught a live opossum in a trap so we had to pick it up. When we got there it was hissing and flashing its teeth at us. The ACO told me that they won't bite and typically don't have rabies. None the less I carried the cage a good distance from myself.

Also we received a dead opossum call. It was dead in the middle of a residential street. the ACO showed me how to bag a dead animal.

The guy from the local Humane Society grabbed the live opossum by the tail w/out gloves or any protection, which freaked me out.

So how do you guys handle opossums and what do you do with them when you apprehend them?
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Old 08-28-2008
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as of right now, you have more experience dealing with opossums then I do.


Cheers, Scooterchic
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Old 08-28-2008
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I pick them up by the tail and release them in the wooded areas of the City. I'm pretty sure that they are low on the vector lilst because they are marsupials??? Not 100% though.
Babies go to rehabbers, they are so cute!
They don't have the abdominal control to come up and bite and they hiss and show teeth for show, I wouldn't stick my hand in there though.
Let one go tonight actually.
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Old 08-28-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC626 View Post
Hey there, how do you guys deal with opossums? I have dealt with them this week. A couple caught a live opossum in a trap so we had to pick it up. When we got there it was hissing and flashing its teeth at us. The ACO told me that they won't bite and typically don't have rabies. None the less I carried the cage a good distance from myself.

Also we received a dead opossum call. It was dead in the middle of a residential street. the ACO showed me how to bag a dead animal.

The guy from the local Humane Society grabbed the live opossum by the tail w/out gloves or any protection, which freaked me out.

So how do you guys handle opossums and what do you do with them when you apprehend them?
They won't bite? Heh. Maybe more like they rarely bite. One of our wildlife techs with 30+ years experience received the worse bite she's ever gotten from an opossum.

We will check the pouch on dead opossums in case there are any babies in there, sometimes wildlife can save the babies, sometimes not. Not sure I'd handle opossums without gloves, heck we usually use a net or catch pole to get them as it is unless they're badly injured in which case we might scruff them through a towel while wearing gloves. I had one when I was working graveyard that was attacked by a dog and was playing dead, I thought he was really badly injured, and he didn't really react till I scruffed him without using a towel. He turned out to be healthy, he didn't bite me, and we ended up releasing him after a short quarantine period to make sure he wasn't rabid.

Normally we only respond to wildlife calls if they are sick or injured, if we find a healthy opossum (or other wildlife) trapped somewhere or somehow, we release it, pretty much right where we found it, unless it injured itself by being trapped.

Jeff
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Old 08-28-2008
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On my first opossum call, my training officer placed a glove in the open mouth of a hissing opossum, and it did not bite it. I have seen weeks when I have handled more opossums than dogs and cats combined, and I have only seen one bite, but it was being killed by a German Shepherd and it was fighting for its life.

I still don’t trust anything with a 3” long mouth full of teeth, so I use a reasonable amount of caution handling them. I put something between the head and my hand when I grab the tail, and if it starts climbing the tail towards my hand, I just give it a quick shake and it normally just drops back down.

That is the only animal that I routinely wear gloves when I handle it, not for fear of a bite, but because they are filthy. Virtually every one I get is in a trash can, hiding in amongst the rest of the trash.

The best information I have is that there has only been 1 opossum test positive for rabies in the history of the State of Texas.
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Old 08-28-2008
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The best information I have is that there has only been 1 opossum test positive for rabies in the history of the State of Texas.
Yep, the Austin Possum.

they CAN give a nasty bite if they're pushed, but then again, anything with teeth CAN bite.
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Old 08-28-2008
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Yeah, I guess they do bite, but very rarely. Its great to hear that not too many opossums have rabies, however, if I have to handle one, I'm going to be wearing my leather gloves, and use the catch pole to handle the opossum.

Do they get angry when you grab them by the tail?
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Old 08-28-2008
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Do they get angry when you grab them by the tail?
90% will just dangle there, so long as it is just a minute of two, but some will take offense to it. Usually it is the younger ones that protest the most, but a mother with babies can also resist quite a bit.

Personally, I never pass up the chance to educate. When I have a snake or a opossum, if there are people watching me, I’ll give them a wildlife 101 class.

Here is a little opossum info for you;
http://agrilifebookstore.org/tmppdfs...6fe47737206e37
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Old 08-29-2008
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They rarely bite. You'd almost have to stick your hand in their mouth but I have see a few over the years that seemed more aggressive then the norm. They're about as dumb as a rock and they don't see well. We usually just take them out of the traps with our 2 foot Katch-alls. Sometimes, on some of the smaller ones it easier to do the tail grab. I wouldn't handle any other critter that way though. And they're are a lot of them, sometimes it seems like they're a majority of my job. I may be wrong but I believe that their body temp is too low to be a good reservoir for rabies, however, we did have a "hot" one in our county several years ago.
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Old 08-29-2008
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I have no info, just wanted to say that I LOOOOOVE 'possums! And I may be wrong (I so often am!) but I think I remember reading somewhere that the low incidence of rabies in opossums was believed to be related to their body temperature being lower than most mammals. Either way, 'possums are rad-but not rad enough for me to handle them barehanded...

...not that I get the chance to-we don't have them here
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