How Do Opossums Defend Themselves In The Wild? | Wildlife Removal New Jersey
Opossums are not necessarily considered the most pleasant animals to look at, and some species of opossum are definitely cuter than others. One particularly mean looking opossum is the Virginia opossum. These opossums possess super sharp teeth that you cannot miss, as well as a having a rather strange looking elongated head. However, Virginia opossums are not dangerous. In fact, these opossums are so timid around threatening entities that they will swiftly fall to the ground and play dead rather than indulge in a life or death battle.
Playing dead is the most common form of defense for the Virginia opossum, and many other species of opossum as well. This seemingly cowardly, yet smart method of defense is well known to many people around the world. There even exists a popular saying called “playing possum”, which means remaining quiet and still, normally in the presence of a threat of some sort.
The act of falling over and playing dead is, for the opossum, and involuntary movement that almost always occurs when an opossum is in a state of fear. What is interesting is the effect the opossum has on predators as it lies defenseless, and seemingly dead. Once an opossum becomes frightened its body will shut down and become stiff while having its menacing teeth exposed in order to scare away potential predators. Saliva also still continues to drip from the opossum’s mouth while unconscious, and it further fends off predators by emitting a foul stench. The unconscious, yet intimidating opossum regains consciousness within a matter of several minutes to a few hours.
Of course an opossum does not always fall over unconscious every time it feels threatened. Opossums will also hiss, growl or make strange clicking sounds in order to scare off predators. If you happen to see an opossum outside and motionless do not assume that it is dead. Instead make sure your pets are inside and leave the opossum to itself for a few hours.
Have you ever encountered an opossum in the wild that was stiff and motionless?