Possums are harmless creatures who are easily misunderstood to be aggressive animals by everyone. Usually, they come out very rarely in daylight.
But when they do, they are easily frightened by their surroundings and start playing dead. Sometimes they just die due to hunger or when they’re attacked by other animals.
Have you recently found a dead possum and wondered, ‘why is there a dead possum in my yard?’
What Are Possums Doing In Your Yard?
Possums are not likely to come outside of their habitats. Even if they hover outside their territory, they always do that at night. Therefore, seeing possums in daylight is a rare scenario.
When they are seen in daylight, they are either facing severe scarcity of food or ‘Playing Dead’.
By ‘playing dead’, we mean that the opossums pretend to be dead when actually they are not. They do this out of fear of being attacked.
You might find possums exactly to be looking dead, but they are not, and it is sometimes very difficult to find out whether it’s dead or not.
Other than that, it might come out to search for food, especially during the winter season.
And if it is not playing dead or searching for food, some scavenger might have attacked it during its night stroll. It might also be dead due to hunger.
How To Tell If The Opossum Is Dead?
You can easily identify if a possum is playing dead or actually dead.
Usually, when opossums feel threatened by their surroundings, they turn static and quiet so that anyone or anything in the surroundings thinks they’re dead and doesn’t attack.
The most interesting part of possums playing dead is, they can also smell like a dead animal when they pretend to be so.
To know if it is playing dead or has actually gone dead, firstly check if it is breathing or not.
Also, check if its body temperature is warm or cold.
If it is both warm and breathing, then obviously, it is alive. But this requires touching the animal, which can be extremely unhygienic.
So, wait until an hour to four. If the animal is pretending to be dead, its comatose state will get triggered automatically after a few hours, and its ears will start to move due to its involuntary muscles reactions.
It takes a possum from 40 minutes to a maximum of 4 hours to sustain in its comatose condition. After four hours, if you see no change in its movement, then you may call it dead.
Still, if you want to make sure of its death correctly, you can hold and observe if it is breathing or not. But remember to wear gloves before touching it.
Also, there are possibilities for the animal to scratch you or bite you. So, try to grab it by its neck and tail so that it cannot move.
What To Do When You Find A Dead Possum?
After you are entirely sure that the opossum is dead, you should immediately take it outside of the territory of your house.
Next, call your nearby or local wildlife rehabilitator and hand the dead animal over to them.
You should prevent direct contact with these animals. They might not carry deadly diseases according to the myth, but they still are unhygienic. So, make sure to wear gloves.
After picking a possum up, take it in a bag and keep it separately. Even when the animal is dead, it might have fleas or ticks on it.
So, be very careful about preventing direct skin contact with both living or dead possums.
The local wildlife rehabilitators will take the possums away to a safer place from your house. Sometimes, you cannot tell if the possums are dead or not.
Do not just bury or burn or kill it somehow before a wildlife rehabilitator arrives. Let them make sure of its death before declaring it dead.
How Can You Help Opossums?
Many a time, opossums are treated as disgusting creatures as people think they make a mess out of the garbage they keep outside.
But in reality, they are our harmless wild neighbors, who are not at all harmful rather helpful at times.
Usually, these animals are always threatened by the presence of anything. They would never cause you any harm if you didn’t trigger them in the first place.
So, you should always avoid dealing with threatened or frightened opossums as they might bite you as their habit of self-defense.
Also, people tend to think that these animals are extremely unhygienic and carry out deadly diseases like rabies. But this is absolutely a wrong conception.
Opossums are such a type of scavengers that clean up properly after having eaten their prey.
It instead helps you by eating cockroaches, rats, remnants of dead bodies of animals, etc. It also eats up poisonous snakes.
So, possums help you keep the environment clean. But, many people get scared and kill them.
You should refrain from such animal cruelties and make everyone around your neighborhood or locality aware of the benefits possums can have.
Even if you don’t like having possums around, make sure to lock your garbage bins properly, do not keep any leftovers of food in your yard.
Opossums are very gentle animals that are not willing to get involved in any fight or unusual attacks.
We might trigger its self-defense to show up. But that does not mean we should just kill them mercilessly.
A possum passing by your yard would mean it has killed any insect or the unwanted parasite from your yard, and a dead possum would mean either it’s hungry or scared.
Either way, you just have to be patient and take care of it without causing any animal cruelty. That should be enough to answer why there is a dead possum in your yard.