Get the Facts: Opossums, Ticks, and Lyme Disease

The next time you see a opossum playing dead on the road, try your best to avoid hitting it. Because it turns out that opossums are allies in the fight against Lyme disease.

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Opossum fun fact:

Possums, like many other small and medium sized mammals, are hosts for ticks looking for a blood meal. But opossums are remarkably efficient at eliminating foraging ticks. A single opossum might kill an astonishing 5,000 ticks in a week.

Disease ecologist Rick Ostfeld explains...

"Because many ticks try to feed on opossums and few of them survive the experience. Opossums are extraordinarily good groomers it turns out – we never would have thought that ahead of time – but they kill the vast majority – more than 95% percent of the ticks that try to feed on them. So these opossums are walking around the forest floor, hoovering up ticks right and left, killing over 90% of these things, and so they are really protecting our health."

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