Opossums helping keep Lyme disease down

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HARRISBURG, Pa, (WHTM) —  Did you know that opossums are America’s only marsupial mammals.

“Opossums have actually roamed the earth for over fifty million years,” said, Tracie Young, Raven Ridge Wildlife Center in Washington Borough of Lancaster County.

Petey the Opossum has a cushy job as an animal ambassador for the non-profit. Opossums in your backyard quietly work the night shift.

“They eat bugs, they eat shrews, slugs, all the yucky stuff you don’t want around your house. Mice, snakes, they will eat all that. The opossum can eat up to five thousand ticks in one season. So they keep the lyme disease down. A lot of people think that they carry rabies. They do not. Their body temperature is actually too low to harbor the virus,” Young said.

According to Young, if you do not have a permit you cannot take an opossume for a pet. ,

“You can get fined, you can be cited, and get arrested,” Young said.


 It is when the babies leave the pouch that orphaned opossums start arriving at  Raven Ridge.

“A lot of times mama possums get hit by cars or dog attacks, and the babies are on mom. And usually, the babies need to come into rehab,” Young said.

Raven ridge takes care of the joeys until they are old enough to join nature’s cleanup crew.

“They’re not going to run after you, they’re not going to attack you, they’re actually going to run the other way. But they are good to have around your property,” Young said.

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