Yes, possums do eat snakes. Opossums, commonly referred to as possums, are animals that eat snakes. They prey on anything like rats and mice, including dead animals, which are called carrion.
Possums are nocturnal, and they hunt at night at the same time when most snakes do. While they hunt snakes, it is not always a guarantee that a possum is going to win against a snake.
Do Possums eat Venomous Snakes?
Yes, possums eat at least 12 species of snakes, including those that possess venom. On top of that, they eat ants and ticks.
Opossums, however, are wise. They do not just eat snakes at random. They know which ones to attack. There are video documentaries showing a possum walking away from a viper. Not that the possum will die, but it knows that the viper’s bite and venom are excruciating.
If a possum ever comes across a nest of baby snakes, it will certainly attack. It is far more convenient to eat small snakes than big ones.
On the other hand, some hungry possums will hunt and eat different types of snakes, even venomous ones. Whether in captivity or the wild, a possum considers a snake as a meal.
However, some possums are unfortunate. It is not easy to hurt a boa, and many possums end up being a python’s meal. It is not uncommon to see pythons eating possums in the backyard.
Some snake owners also catch possums to feed their pet pythons. Unfortunately, possums are seemingly afraid of pythons and will not move if they find themselves in a confrontation.
Do Possums Fight Snakes?
Yes, possums do fight snakes, but this rarely happens unless the snake is on the menu. In the wild, possums play dead or ignorant, as if they are not aware that there is a snake nearby. They do this if they know that they are not in a position to defeat a big snake.
It is this behavior that gave rise to the idiomatic expression, “playing possum.” Possums may look unconscious. They do this deliberately to discourage snake species that do not want to eat carrion.
It does not always work. Some of them just wait for the python to strike, and they do not even bother to run.
One can observe the same behavior in captivity. It is not unusual to see a possum losing a fight against a python. Some do not even put up a fight at all.
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Do Opossums keep Snakes Away?
It depends on the snake breed. Pythons are not afraid of possums. Pythons look at possums as meals—dead or alive.
Possums, however, are not afraid of venomous snakes, especially small ones like the copperhead. Possums are great to see in one’s backyard, as they can repel snakes. However, possums will also attract bigger snakes like the python.
One should note, however, the possums will not repel snakes all the time. They choose their battles carefully, so to speak.
Apart from snakes, possums can also keep other animals away. Being an omnivore, a possum eats snails, frogs, cockroaches, and mice. As such, they would be good animals in one’s backyard. They keep the ecosystem balanced and will prevent infestation.
Are Opossums Immune to Snake Venom?
Yes, possums are immune to snake venom. A scientific study shows that these animals have evolved a certain kind of protein that makes them invulnerable to envenomation.
In the wild, it is not uncommon for possums to eat pit vipers, a deadly species of snake. In the study, the scientists found evidence that possums possess a gene code that targets venom. It is a protein that makes the possum resistant to hemorrhagic venom.
This protein is what makes the possum resistant to snake bites. However, some possums will not take the risk unless absolutely necessary. Despite being immune to the venom, the possum suffers excruciating pain.
Because of this discovery, possums are now a source of material used to develop anti-venoms. This protein is not the ultimate solution. According to a scientist, snake venom can have hundreds of toxins. The body, therefore, must deactivate all these toxins.
Also, the chemical compounds in snakes vary according to age, location, sex, and species. What this means is that even a possum’s protein-peptide could work on one venom, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
In essence, even if a possum peptide can reverse the venom of a Russell viper, it does not mean it can fight all venoms from all types of Russell vipers.
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Do Opossums have Venom or Rabies?
Some possums do get in contact with rabies. But, according to the National Opossum Society, possums are hardy animals. They are more resistant to rabies, and they pose little to no threat to humans.
They also said that dogs are more dangerous to humans if compared to dogs. Possums have a high level of immunity to many diseases, and they are more resistant to rabies than most mammals.
Possums do not have poison or venom. However, they can still be infected with rabies. Like animals in the wild, they may also be carriers of bacteria and viruses. It is not a good idea to get in contact with them.
Possums are usually cleaner than we’d think. Like cats, they groom themselves all the time. They eat each other’s ticks and fleas, but this does not mean they do not pose any danger to humans.
More Animals that Eat Snakes:
Possums are hardy little animals that are resilient to snake venom. They eat snakes but will avoid a python if they could. Possums have a peptide in their body, but this is not a guaranteed protection against all types of snake venoms.
Possums are a source of anti-snake venom, but studies are still ongoing as to how far their immunity can help humans.
Possums are not likely to get infected by rabies, but they are not immune to it. Their presence must be welcomed in backyards and farms, as they eat snakes and other pests. Petting them is ill-advised, as they are carriers of bacteria and other viruses.
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