dog + possum - need advice!

daisyadairMay 21, 2008

I am so freaked out (it doesn't take much). I'd noticed my dog acting weird when she was in the back yard - going way back into the bushes and not coming when I called her. So, yesterday when I let her out she went right over to these low shrubs and comes back out with a possum in her mouth. I told her to put it down and we went inside. I thought it was dead, but apparently it was just playing possum and got up after a few minutes and waddled to the back of the yard.

Today, my dog ran to another corner of the yard and was barking like crazy. I went around to the other side of the fence and there was the possum staring at me.

I have no idea if it's one or a family of possums. Why would they hang around a yard with a dog barking at them?

How long are they going to stay?

I guess the one I saw walks so slowly that an owl or hawk is going to pick it up eventually!

If anyone has any insight on what I should do, I would really appreciate it!

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Daisy-Post your question on the Kitchen Table thread.There is a lady over there that rescues possums and she might be able to tell you what to do.They are harmless even though they can look a little threatening.Obviously it is not afraid of your dog.LOL Do you have food out for the dog where it would be accessible to the possum? If so that is probably why it is coming in your yard. Maybe remove it and it will go back to where it belongs.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 7:19PM
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I put an SOS on another one of Marilyn's forums in case she drops by there first.

It seems like she's said that possums are not susceptible rabies.

So, the fact that your possum seems slow might mean that he has a medical/health problem, but at least it's not that one!

It seems like she said they're nomadic, too, so he's probably just passing through & needs some time to be sure the coast is clear so he can be on his way.

I'd keep the dog inside or take him out on a leash til the possum is somewhere else.

Best luck!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 7:47PM
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It could be a mom with youngsters or a single possum that has found lots of snails, bugs, or a bounty of some type of food that is keeping it/them in the area.

Possums don't move fast, and a mom w/babies will move even slower. It will eventually leave, as long as the dog doesn't kill it first.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 8:47PM
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There is no food outside at all. I called the city and they said they will bring by a safe animal trap, but that could take a couple of weeks.

Thanks for the comments - maybe there are babies, and that's why they are sticking around.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 10:41PM
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Possums are the ONLY mammal to not carry rabies, I would not worry too much about it. Just keep calling your dog away from the area.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 11:31PM
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Any warm-blooded mammal can carry rabies, this includes possums. However, it is very rare that they carry rabies. Same goes for small rodents and lagomorphs.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 11:45PM
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All of the above. If it is moving very slowly, it could be a number of things. It could be injured. It could be in poor condition and near death. If the dog didn't hurt it, keep calling the dog away, and either leave it alone or pick it up and relocate it. You can carry it in a large trash can. Normally I won't pick them up by the tail, but if you have the
trash can there, and can do that, just pick it up and put it in the can and take it somewhere and release it. Find someplace that has water nearby. If you pick it up, look closely and be sure that it isn't injured. If it is, try to find a wildlife rehabber who will take it.

Are you seeing the same possum, or the one in the dog's mouth, was it a baby?

If you want, you can email me at

Possums generally do not stay in the same spot for very long. They are usually on the go their entire lives...short lives. They don't have a very long life span.

If the dog didn't hurt it, and you can let it stay around and leave on it's own, that would be the best and kindest thing to do. They truly are beneficial animals...and eat a lot of things that we find unpleasant...from carrion, rotting fruit, to snails, slugs, roaches, snakes and mice.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 2:46AM
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Oh Marilyn, I could never pick up any critters hanging out in my back yard - however, I would not harm the possums in any way. Hopefully it's just temporary and it will be moving on soon.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 9:37AM
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Is the city just leaving the trap, or will they be picking up the animal? In all likelihood they will kill it vs release it, so, if the animal is still there the next few days do as Marilyn recommended and relocate it. You wouldn't have to pick it up, just guide it into a can.
If it's a small, young one they're pretty easy to catch and move, but make sure it's not a baby that's separated from mom.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 11:47AM
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We had a Mom and 3 babies come to visit our deck last winter. It was really cold and deep snow so we fed them fruit and dog kibble...and a few stale doughnuts. They LOVE the doughnuts but they are not good for them. They were very tame and I was actually able to pet two of the babies...though I wouldn't suggest it. We had to rescue one that somehow got it's hind leg cought in the leg of a patio chair, it was very cooperative and when freed just walked over and ate some grapes then left. They never stay in one place for very long, I think ours were here for about 3 weeks. They sure were nice to get to know. I would be more worried that the dog would hurt them, they pose no threat to you or the dog.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 1:22AM
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groominggal - thanks for the setting straight, I know where I live they have never had a case of possom related rabies and I had been told by at least half a dozen animal control officers that possums just dont get rabies, I took it as factual.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 2:37AM
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I remember years ago when our dog cornered a possum in our back yard.

DH called animal control, but when the lady arrived she told us it was old and wouldn't do well up in the hills where they normally take wild animals. She said it would survive longer here in town, trash picking.

She took it out of our yard (to save it from our dog) and let it run into the alley. A neighbor who puts out cat food for strays saw the possum lurking behind her home, so we think it found its meals there after that.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 12:31PM
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The possum has gone on to greener pastures all on his own, I believe. My dog is now back to acting normally when he's out, just barking up at the squirrels in the trees.
I have one of the few heavily treed lots in my neighborhood, so this sort of thing is going to happen now and then. Last year it was a male cardinal beating my windows with his beak non-stop for two monthes!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 2:29PM
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