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Possums are the only marsupial in Florida and are a mammal that is called the Virginia opossum. They are also known as the North American opossum. They have a pouch that carries their babies and this mammal is the size of a cat and has grayish-white fur. When out walking your dog, you may see one and the dog might want to go after it. Are possums dangerous to dogs? Not usually, as they are docile but they may scratch, bite, and fight if they feel threatened.

Let’s take a look at possums and learn a little more about them.

Possum in the wild and is not dangerous to dogs.

What is a Possum?

As described above, they are a marsupial and mammals. They are found in the U.S. north of Mexico and are often seen near the roadways. Possums have tails that are long and hairless, a pointed pink snout, a white face, sharp claws, and small hairless ears. They also have a pouch in which they carry their young. Possums like trash cans, gardens, pet food, and house mice.

What Happens When A Possum Encounters a Dog?

Possums are afraid of dogs and will run away as they are small in size. They are not a threat if a dog leaves them alone and they have the instinct to play dead. However, if a possum and a dog decide to fight and attack each other, it won’t be a good thing. There could be injuries to both.

The good news is that possums are not dangerous to dogs and avoid confrontation. If the possum does feel threatened, they will show their teeth, hiss, and drool and that usually will scare a dog or any animal that gets too close. In rare instances, a possum will attack a dog so pet owners should train their dog to stay away from them or pull their leash away.

Sometimes as mentioned above, a possum will play dead. Keep in mind that a possum can play dead from 40 minutes to a few hours. It’s pretty amazing to see as no one can tell if they are dead or alive! However, if a dog still messes with the possum, it might bite back.

Do Opossums Carry Diseases?

Like most wild animals, possums carry diseases and easily transmit bacteria. Possum’s immunity is high so they don’t usually have rabies and their body temperature can go as low as 94 degrees which is too low for rabies to survive. However, they can carry other diseases such as:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Tularemia
  • Spotted fever
  • Chagas disease
  • Coccidiosis

If your dog or other pet is bitten by a possum or touches a dead possum, make sure to contact your vet.

Possum on a fence in a yard and won't attack a dog.

What If You See Possums In Your Backyard?

if you see a possum or two in your backyard, don’t fret. Unlike moles, they don’t tear up the yard. Usually, they are just passing through and headed to their den. They will take care of insects, small snakes, baby rats, and mice so they are like free pest control! Possums also like to eat roadkill and ticks. You might see one get stuck in a trash can and they like the pet food that you leave outdoors for your dog to eat.

How to Prevent Possums?

As mentioned above, possums are not harmful to the backyard and will actually help keep pests under control. But, you can help keep them from being attracted to your yard by doing a few things. One of those is keeping your trash can in your garage. Another one is not keeping pet food outside. Not only does this attract possums, but it will also attract many animals and predators that you don’t want to see.

Check out the sweet video below of a dog who adopts baby possums after they have been orphaned. Note, this is not usual but nice to see.

Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know about possums and dogs, let’s take a look at a few other areas of maintenance.

One of those is raccoons. During the day, raccoons will be out looking for food. Some people believe this means they are sick, but that is not true. They use the daylight hours to find more food and water sources. They also like the food that is left outside for your pet so keeping that food indoors will help keep them out of your yard.

Another area is if you have a dead mouse in the home, how do you get rid of the smell? You can use bleach, vinegar, baking soda, charcoal, or commercial disinfectant. Also, call a pest control service to find out why it ended up in your home to begin with.

Lastly, no one wants bed bugs. If you find you have bed bugs, there are glue traps that you can set up to catch them and see just how infested your home is. Then, you will want to contact a pest control company to take care of the infestation.

When to Contact A Professional?

Dealing with wildlife in the yard can be frustrating so if you feel your yard is being overrun with possums, you can contact your local pest control company to come out and take a look. However, remember that possums usually pass through the yard on the way to their den and take care of pests in the yard for you. But, you are always welcome to seek out assistance if you feel they are a nuisance or any other pests that are irritating you.


Dogs like to go after anything that moves so trying to keep your four-legged family member from chasing after everything is a good idea. I know it is easier said than done but you don’t want the dog to attack something that carries diseases as this adds more stress to your life. This means an unplanned and expensive visit to the vet. Reach out to Inside and Out Pest Services in Jacksonville, FL, and surrounding areas to get your pest inspection done today.

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