Many people think that opossums are cute little animals, but they also have a reputation as pests.
Recent research has shown that because they groom themselves and eat all the ticks they find on their body, they are effective in reducing the overall numbers of ticks, which have been on the rise in recent years and they may, therefore, be stopping the spread of Lyme Disease to humans.
Scientific studies show opossums are net eradicators of ticks
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the flagship biological research journal of the Royal Society, stated that ecologists believe that opossums are the most effective mammal at reducing the number of ticks in the wild. The study was commenced to learn the part that various animals play in the spread of ticks and their associated contagious diseases.
The tests were conducted on six species; white-footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums, veeries, and catbirds. The study postulated that although the white-footed mice were the chief receptacle of the Lyme bacteria, they were the natural prey of foxes who themselves are home to numerous ticks, but don’t groom themselves like cats and opossums. The opossums on the other hand, whilst also home to numerous ticks, meticulously groom themselves, catching and eating over 90% of the ticks on their bodies. Extrapolating their findings, based on the examination of the animal’s feces, the scientists estimate that in a season, each opossum can kill approximately 5,000 ticks. Overall, therefore, opossums were natural, net eradicators of ticks and could potentially reduce the spread of Lyme disease. Read More