Most people are not fond of opossums. They consider them to be vile rodents. However, these little creatures are not rodents at all. Rather, they are marsupials, like kangaroos and koalas, and carry their babies in a pouch after giving birth. In fact, they are North America’s only marsupials. While we may be turned off by opossums, once we learn a little more about these animals, and the benefits of having them around, perhaps we can tolerate coexisting with them. Opossums are very adaptable and can live just about anywhere and eat just about anything. From mice to insects to trash, they are not picky when it comes to a meal. Opossums also do not have a problem sleeping in an open shed or car, or in a tree.
It actually is beneficial to have one hanging around the garden, as they will eat slugs and other pests that are harmful to plants. They also eat snakes — even venomous ones — which is good news for humans who are afraid of snakes. Furthermore, they are pros at destroying ticks. Opossums constantly groom themselves and remove (and eat) thousands of parasites, such as ticks, each year.
It is a common myth that opossums spread rabies. However, this is false. Opossums do not contract or spread rabies. Because their body temperature is slightly lower than that of other mammals, the rabies virus cannot take hold.
They are actually very clever animals. A cool characteristic of the opossum is how it plays dead in the face of danger. It will flop over, roll its eyes back, stick out its tongue and release a foul-smelling fluid from its anal glands. They flop over, roll their eyes in the back of their head, stick out their tongues and release a foul-smelling fluid from their anal glands. This defense mechanism is a great way to deceive a predator. The next time an opossum makes his presence known, think twice about “getting rid” of him.
TOASTS & TIKI-TAILS: The NO Fleas Market will be participating in Cool Down Block Party being held by the Magazine Street Merchants association from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, July 10, in the 3800 and 4300 blocks of Magazine Street, New Orleans. Friendly, leashed pets are welcome, and there will be treats for them. There also will be a raffle and pet costume contest. For information, visit www.facebook.com/NOFleasMarket or www.la-spca.org or call (504) 324-4727.
ADOPTION EVENT: The Louisiana SPCA will hold an adoption event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 11, at the Jefferson Feed Neighborhood Pet Market, 309 N. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans. For information, call (504) 368-5191 or visit www.la-spca.org/offsite.
FRENCH DOG CONTEST: The Alliance Française will hold its French Dog Contest, in partnership with the Louisiana SPCA, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 11, at Spanish Plaza, at the foot of Canal Street, New Orleans. Dogs will compete in three categories: most French, best dressed and most Jules Verne. All dogs will receive goodie bags for their participation. Registration is open online, and will remain open at the festival hospitality tent until 15 minutes prior to the contest. For information, visit bastilledaynola.com.
LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at email@example.com, www.animalrescueneworleans.org or call its recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.