FAQ Frequently Asked Questions DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? WRITE TO US AND WE WILL TRY TO ANSWER IT! Do Opossums Have Rabies? Any mammal can get rabies, However, the chance of rabies in an Opossum is extremely rare. With a strong immune system and a body temperature that is significantly lower than that of other mammals, they simply aren’t good rabies hosts. The low body temperature (90-94º F) makes it difficult for the virus to survive in an opossum’s body. Will the siblings stay together or will they split up? Siblings may stay together for a little while – sometimes through the winter but opossums are solitary animals. It is not unusual to see several opossums (along with skunk, fox and raccoons gather at a feeding site.. usually peacefully. As adults they will go off on their own…especially males. During mating season males become very territorial and will fight viciously to protect their domain. Do Opossums hibernate? Opossums do not hibernate. Winters are a dangerous time for them. Opossums are not equipped for harsh winters. They sleep in hollow logs, under porches, sheds or in chicken coops. They do not dig but will fill their area with leaves and sticks for warmth. During a storm they may hunker down for a day or two but they will be looking for food soon after. In fact, only about 30% of opossums survive their first winter. They freeze to death or starve. They have no fur on tails, ears or feet and frostbite is a real threat. Frequently the tail becomes infected causing death. In the northeast we release no later than mid-October to give them time to acclimate to the environment and to find food sources and shelter. How can I help in the winter? We suggest that you to make a winter refuge shelter. Think of a place where you might be willing to make a refuge and leave some food. Easy access for you.. but not right next to your house. Remember, other wildlife will come as well. Read our “Winter is Coming Page” to learn more.More On Winter Survival "Why is her mouth open and why is she showing all her teeth?" An open mouth… showing teeth.. sometimes snarling! We call “an opossum smile”.It is a scare tactic. The first defense skill warning you to back off. If they continue to feel threatened they may hiss and growl… then comes drooling (which some people mistake for foaming at the mouth)If none of those warnings work an opossum may emit a very awful smelling poop… most predators leave after that! If the threat continues it may “play dead”. But they are NOT playing…this is an involuntary response that results in a coma like state… that can last for up to four hours. During this time a predator could attack and even toss the opossum around and it would not respond. Most predators walk away at this point…especially dogs. So if you see an opossum that is stressed, she may appear dead… but when you go back to check.. she is gone! Opossums are nonaggressive animals that will just walk away if you don’t threaten or corner them. Do opossums eat thousands of ticks each summer? This is one of the most overexaggerated facts out there! Opossums eat insects. Opossums are meticulous groomers (like cats.) When grooming, if they find ticks it’s like a special treat. The long silky fur of an opossum walking thru tall grass attracts ticks – we call them “tick magnets”. Yes, they eat ticks. They do not hunt them, they do not chase them, they do not dig them up; and there no tick “nests”. If we find an opossum loaded with ticks, we know there is probably a health problem. DID YOU KNOW? Wildlife are not pets. It is illegal for any person, other tan a state appointed rehabilitator to care for wildlife. Non-releasable animals require State approval and Federal permits to be educational ambassadors. Virginia Opossums are the only native marsupial in the U.S. Opossums give birth after 13 days. Neonates crawl into a pouch to fully develop. At 6-8 weeks, joeys begin to leave the pouch but will ride on mama’s back until 4-5 mos. old. An opossum’s normaL body temperature is 90-95 degrees. The rabies virus does not survive at this low temp. Opossums are an ecological clean up crew, eating grubs, carion, and thousands of ticks. Opossums have prehensile tails for grasping, balance, and to carry nesting materials – but do not hang from their tail. Opossums are non-aggressive. They hiss and show many teeth (opossum smile) to intimidate and may give a deep guttural growl or play dead if threatened. Main predators of opossums are dogs, foxes, coyotes, hawks, and owls. Opossums are nocturnal. They have poor eyesight and hearing, and rely on their excellent sense of smell to hunt. A group opossums is a “passel.” Males are Jacks, females Jills, and babies Joeys. Their life span is 2-3 yrs. They have a hard life – especially in cold climates. Please Be Kind to Opossums!