When Not Playing Dead, Opposums are Tick Assassins (Cary Institute)

Earth Day256

Nature is full of wonder — including animals that can take out 5,000 ticks per season.

Opossums may not be among the cutest or most approachable forest animals, but in the hot months of summer, they play an essential role in the regulation of black-legged ticks, more commonly known as deer ticks, the ones that can transmit Lyme disease bacteria.

For some reason, deer ticks are attracted more to opossums than they are to other mammals, yet opossums have been uniquely selected to handle this problem. In many cases, the opossum will simply groom itself and ingest any ticks attached to its body. Scientists suggest that any one opossum may eliminate more than 5,000 ticks per season. Read more here.

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