The possum comprises a group of marsupials that live in Australia, Sulawesi, and New Guinea. There are approximately 70 different species of true possums that are recognized by researchers.
Depending on the species, possums are usually herbivorous or omnivorous. Their various diets include fruits, flowers, insects, nuts, and more.
Possums’ Habits and Biology
While possums are generally regarded as rodents and pests, they are quite useful to have nearby. Here, we will explore some facts about possums that make them suitable pets.
They Are Not Picky Eaters
They eat almost anything including animals struck by vehicles; everything to the bone. This means that they very efficiently manage waste. They also eat garden pests such as slugs, beetles, and cockroaches. Possums are very resourceful and can fend for themselves. They are scavengers by nature and can eat anything from lizards to berries.
Possums have been around for millions of years. They are one of the oldest living mammal species. They have survived for over 70 million years on our planet. This is why they are often referred to as living fossils. They showcase incredible resilience.
They Are Not Destructive Animals
While in neighborhoods, they do not destroy lawns or property. Dr. Karen Becker explains that if you simply leave a door open and remove any food that might draw them in, they eventually move on without disrupting your home and belongings.
They Eliminate Ticks
According to statistics by the National Wildlife Federation, one possum can potentially kill 4000 ticks in a week. This is due to their vigorous self-grooming methods.
They either crash or consume the ticks burrowing in their fur. They are not susceptible to Lyme disease and can therefore protect humans from the same. This makes them a suitable pet to keep.
They Are Not Aggressive
Even when they are baring their teeth, they never outright attack. They will use the infamous ‘playing possum’ technique to appear dead when confronted with a predator hence avoiding an actual fight. They can stay zoned out for hours and emit a foul smell to keep other predators away.
They Can Be Used To Control Snakes
Possums are not susceptible to most snake venom. They are known to eat some snakes and this can help in snake control in the area.
They Scarcely Have Rabies
Possums are almost completely immune to contracting rabies or passing it along. According to Dr. Karen Becker, this is because their natural body temperature is too low to maintain hosting the virus.
What Do Possums Like To Eat Most?
- Nearly all possums are omnivorous. They survive by eating a variety of foods. Their primary sources of nourishment include small rodents, insects, worms, slugs and snails, frogs, and birds
- They also eat vegetables, berries, nuts, fruits, garbage, pet food, and birdseed
- Possums are scavengers and will eat just about anything. They are attracted by overflowing and odorous trash cans, uncovered compost heaps, or other containers you may keep outside
- Possums aren’t particularly picky eaters but they can be lured by fish or apples as bait. Pet food can also work well in luring them
- They also like sweet things. Fresh fruit, pieces of apple, jam, and peanut butter can be used to lure in possums
- Some possums feed on birds’ eggs, insects, chicks, and small vertebrates
- The common brushtail possum has the most generalized diet of all possums. It prefers to feed on plants’ matter
- The Australian mistletoe is the most favorite food of the brushtail possum
- Possums can also eat highly toxic leaves. They are known to have a high tolerance for venom
- For the mountain pygmy possums, their diet consists of up to 30% of begong moth. It supplements its diet with seeds, buds, and fruits. They also consume mountain plum wine, snow beard heaths, and fruit-bearing confiner
- The Tasmanian pygmy possum largely eats pollen and nectar from eucalyptus and melaleuca. It also feeds on insects. It is thought to play a vital role in pollination
- The northern brushtail possum is likely to feed on leaves, seeds, flowers, fruits, and many others. They are most likely to be found in near urban areas mainly because their primary foods are found in gardens
- For domestic possums, some of the best things to feed them are high protein low-fat foods. They like to munch on dry foods like kibble, fruits, and certain vegetables. They can also eat cooked foods
Foods to Avoid Feeding To Possums
- For brushtail possums, human food is not natural and can make them sick. Brushtail possums are relatively small compared to humans, so even small portions of human food can be very unhealthy for them
- Completely avoid food such as bread, cake and biscuits, raw meat, and cooked bones. Some food may cause life-threatening illnesses and raw meat can give them parasites such as Toxoplasma Gondii. Cooked bones do not digest properly
- Possum joeys should never be fed regular cow’s milk as the lactose will cause diarrhea, slow their growth, and may cause death
- Possums should not be fed almonds, cheese, onions, dairy products, green potatoes, and junk food
- Any food that is supplemented with pure forms of vitamin A and D or calcium in the absence of known deficiency is dangerous for the omnivorous possum.
- Any diet that includes any meat or protein products except in very restricted amounts is dangerous to the possum
- Excessive amounts of naturally sourced vitamin A or D is also dangerous and not recommended.
- Canned cat food, chicken or other meats, eggs, kitten chow, dog chow, excessive amounts of apple sauce, human baby cereals, or foods should not be fed to possums
- Large quantities of fruit can also make possums sick
- It is not advised to give chlorinated water to possums
Tips for Feeding Possums
It is not advised to feed possums regularly. When possums have to forage for themselves and only get a small amount from you, it ensures they maintain a more balanced diet. The natural mixture of food for possums is predominantly native leaves with some flowers and small amounts of fruits and insects.
They eat a very wide range of food. If you provide a good supply of tasty food, they get lazy and just wait on you to feed them. Possums may begin to start fights as you are tempting other possums to enter the territory of those who visit yours.
Possums will defend their territory for their family group. The fights will lead to injuries which will lead to skin disease. The skin disease exudative dermatitis gets into skin damaged by fighting and can result in very serious infections even leading to death.
If you are taking care of orphaned possums, it is important to have fresh water available for them at all times. Also, feed them soy milk or a formula recommended by a vet. Feed the possum babies with a dropper dripping the liquid straight into their mouths.
It is possible that small snakes can supplement a possum’s diet. This, however, is not a recommended method of feeding possums. Possums have also been known to eat other possums. This is not a usual occurrence in the wild, however, in confined places, when a healthy possum is placed with a dying possum, the healthy one will eat the dying possum.
1. What is a possum’s diet?
A possum’s diet consists mainly of fruits, flowers, nuts, birdseed, nectar, pollen, invertebrates, rodents, snails and slugs, worms, insects, and some small animals.
2. What do you feed baby possums?
Baby possums stay in their mother’s pouch for 80 days after they are born and are the size of honey bees. You can feed them cockroaches, snails, slugs, and worms. Snails being their favorite. If you are feeding orphaned baby possums, feed them diluted formula.
3. Are possums edible?
Yes, possums are edible although it is not a very common delicacy. They are made as a stew by some people.
4. Will possums eat rat bait?
Yes, they can eat rat bait and will almost definitely die.
5. What is a possum’s favorite food?
Possums like to munch on vegetables and fruits. They like sweet things but should not eat them in excess. They eat almost anything. Fish and apples are attractive to them.
6. Should I feed a brushtail possum?
It is not recommended to feed brushtail possums. This can lead to nutritional imbalances, an increase in the spread of diseases, and a negative influence on their behavior. Lack of knowledge on what to feed can lead to obesity or even death.
7. What do you feed wild possums?
Wild possums typically feed on berries, nuts, seeds, vegetables, small animals, nectar, rodents, insects, worms, slugs, snails, and other common possum foods.
8. Do possums eat cats?
Yes. They can eat cats but only if they are easy prey. Possums are more threatened by cats and dogs. Some homeowners go as far as placing cat hair and dog hair around their compound to prevent possums from making a home out of their houses.
9. What attracts possums to your yard?
Possums are attracted to overflowing odorous trash cans, exposed compost heaps, and other containers you may keep outside.
10. Can you feed possums bananas?
Possums can eat bananas when they are old enough, but should not be fed too many fruits. Baby possums can eat mashed bananas.
Possums are a very diverse species and so is their diet. Based on their diet alone, possums can prove useful in any home. They are resourceful creatures and can fend for themselves. It is acceptable to keep a possum as a pet. If you want to keep a possum as a pet, you need to consider its diet carefully.