Do Possums Eat Rats? The Underrated Natural Pest Controller Explained

possums eat rats

Do possums eat rats, or is the animal just as good as playing dead. This trick has helped this animal specie live for centuries, traced back to the age of dinosaurs. There is also the robust immune system that makes them survive poisons.

If you’re conversant with the animal, you know how destructive they can be. They usually seek refuge around our surroundings, like the outside sheds and gardens. The first sign of Opossums could be harmful to your rose bush or holes in your perfectly trimmed lawn.

However, that is not the only impact Possums can do on your surroundings. Possums could be your best unpaid mice exterminators to maintain a great surrounding if you can keep them under control. As they can end up being a problem altogether, read on to find answers to your questions about this creature.

What are Opossums?

Possums are small nocturnal mammals and are the only recorded marsupial found in the United States. Their name got derived from the word apasum, meaning “white animal,” a word from Algonquian Indians. Opossums have several species, and possums are also used to address animals. Physically, possums have dark fur covering their body except for their face, which is left white.

They also spot pink nose that complements their black ears and eyes. It leads to a well-rounded body with a long scaly tail that aids tree climbing. In size, they could measure up to 33inches as a regular-sized cat would. To tell the gender apart, the male appears more prominent in size than their female counterparts. The overall look is a roughish cut, yet rodent ugly features.

When they get scared, they become paralyzed by the force of involuntary response. This makes their tongues hang out with their body to the sides with unmoving eyes. In simple terms, they play dead until their body senses it is okay to move around again. Fun facts about the marsupial are that they match humans with having opposable thumbs, referred to as helix.

The dental rack of possums is also impressive, with 50 teeth, more than can be found on any other terrestrial animal. They can quickly adapt to different habitats so that you can find them even in luxe parks and suburbs.

Do Possums Eat rats?
source: FarmerGrows

Do possums eat rats?

Possums do not go around selecting several food items on the menu. So, in most cases, yes, possums can eat rats. Their diet consists of anything from rodents to worms, and they actively prey on other types of rodents. When possums eat rats, it significantly reduces the mice infestations and can keep them away in the long run. Most people notice something is different when there is a decline in the rat population.

Although possums may help you get rid of rats, they might not get all the rats because they do not enjoy the hunt. They would rather wait till the rats become decayed before they eat them. However, they can go on a hunting spree when they starve or if the rat disturbs their peace.

The Diet of Possums Explained

Possums are classified under scavengers but can still fall under predators in a little way. Let’s take a refresher biology course on animals considered scavengers. According to science, animals that eat decayed meats or plant matter rather than hunting for it themselves. Vultures, hyenas, crabs, crows, etc., fall under this category. Although possums still tend to chase rats and eat them up, causing them to fall under animals grouped as predators.

Since they can swing in two directions, they can devour anything lying in their wake, such as rats, the carcass of lizards, and birds, and can even extend to your fresh produce. Possums can also get their scavenger fix from raiding your trash can to eat up waste products. If they can have their way, you will find them eating from your pet food.

Possums also love too much on bones, especially skeletons of other animals they’ve eaten. Such meals boost the calcium intake of the animal, as it is an essential nutrient. This flexible diet plan and active digestive system are attributed to their high survival rate.

What Do Possums Eat? - Feeding Nature
source: FeedingNature

What to do When You Notice a Possum in Your Home?

Instead of running around or calling an exterminator near you when you see a possum, you should take things easy. The first thing you should do is ensure the lids of your trash cans get shut tightly. You also want to cover up your pets’ food, especially if their cage is kept outside. Dogs do not take it lightly with possums, so it would be best to keep them away.

It is also best to keep rotten foods away from their reach, as it will allow the possums to be lazy. When the possum notices no other foods source, they will become conditioned to hunt for their next meals, which will work in your favor.

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Having an Opossum Living in Your Surroundings is Beneficial?

You might not know this, but having a possum can save you from some diseases-carrying organisms. Since they feed on animals like snakes, mice, beetles, cockroaches, and others that plague the homes, possums do not only reduce them but save you from the harm they cause. You might be surprised, but they are not disease carriers, even though they resemble rodents.

Their active immune system ensures they don’t get infected from anything they get exposed to. Rabies is one of the viruses that significantly affect rodents and household pets like dogs. Rabies does not affect Opposums because their low internal body temperature kills off the virus when they get exposed to it. Under normal circumstances, possums will not attack you, as they do not regard humans as food sources.

Possums also effortlessly reduce ticks, especially in the summer; when ticks stick to their body, they swipe and eat them. Thus, reducing tick infestation and diseases like Lyme associated with them. In addition, it is not in their nature to hunt or become aggressive to other animals unless warranted. Asides from the fact that they mess with your trash cans, possums do not have much negative impact on you.

Can Possums be Used as Pest Control?

The answer is yes, since they eat it for free anyway, but you cannot rely solely on possums to care for all your rodent issues. At some point, the city council in Brooklyn, New York, used the possum trick to reduce rates in the city. They had to bring in many possums from the wild and set them loose to roam the city back then.

This method could keep rodents from overflowing the parks and public spaces. However, they had the possums to worry about when the rodent was in check. Their immune system and flexible diet only made the possums thrive even when the food supply became limited.

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Can You Kill Possums With Rat Poison?

There is no need to invest in rat poison to get rid of possums in your home. Why you may ask, well, Opposums are generally immune to poisonous substances. They only react to neurotoxins, and you cannot get such substances from the regular rat poisons. If you manage to find a poison of such, why waste so much money on an animal that poses no health risk to you.

The immune system of possums is loaded with peptides, which are also present in their blood. These peptides neutralize the impact of poisons, even snake venom. So, spreading rat poisons in your home will not affect the possums. The best remedy to keep possums off your lawn is spraying substances like ammonia, Mothballs, etc., to the perimeter of your home. Their foul smell will set the possums on their heels when they try to get close.


The possum is a marsupial that loves everything nature offers and generously enjoys chowing them down. This makes possums beneficial in keeping dangerous pests around your home in check asides from eating rats. You can easily cohabit with possums if you maintain a clean surroundings. Other than their scruffy and rodent-like look, there is no reason not to allow possums to dwell in your surroundings.

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Fanti Tukuwei
I'm a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle enthusiast, and the ultimate curves queen. Here, I share beauty, fashion, and lifestyle tips to teach, inspire, and give confidence to all women.