Facts On Possums Playing Dead

Facts On Possums Playing Dead

We all have come across a possum in our yard every now and then. These seemingly cute creatures who are most active at night are often spotted running around in your garden looking for food and shelter. However, there’s one thing about these creatures that we have all noticed sometime or the other- their knack for playing dead. This common possum behaviour is not just a random trick, it’s an essential survival strategy for possums.

When possums are frightened or faced with predators or death, they start acting like they are dead. If this behaviour fascinates you just like it fascinates us, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re giving you all the facts on possums playing dead, to help you understand these creatures a little better. These furry creatures have a great way of survival that’s worth exploring. At Instant Possum Removal, we want you to know more about these furry animals before you get to dealing with them. So, let’s begin:

The Opossum vs. Possum

Before we start exploring why possums like to play dead and what it means, it’s essential to clarify a common misconception. The North American opossum and the Australian possum are two entirely different creatures. Our focus today is on the Australian possum, known for its unique behaviour of playing dead when faced with a predator or a fatal situation.

Survival Strategy

Possums are nocturnal creatures with a range of survival strategies up their furry sleeves. One of the most peculiar is their ability to mimic death when they feel threatened. This act that we commonly refer to as playing dead is also known as “tonic immobility” or “thanatosis.” It’s a wonderful survival strategy and works well to shield them against many predators.

Why Do Possums Play Dead?

Possums resort to playing dead when they perceive a life-threatening situation. This can be anything from encountering a potential predator to experiencing high levels of stress. Knowing what triggers a possum is one of the most important facts on possums playing dead. Once you know their most common triggers, make sure to avoid them.

The Act

When a possum decides to play dead, it goes into a state of paralysis, lying on its side with its mouth open and tongue hanging out. It can even emit a foul-smelling fluid that adds to the illusion of decay. The mechanism in possums for playing dead is a wonderful example of how nature has the perfect resolve for everything. Possums are so good at this behaviour that they can fool almost all the predators into believing that they are dead, which in turn saves their life.

The Purpose Behind the Act: Now that we know a little more about this particular possum behaviour, let us look at some more facts on possums playing dead. Also, let us understand why possums resort to this behaviour in order to save themselves from predators and how it works:

  1. Confusing Predators: The primary purpose of playing dead is to confuse and deter predators. Many animals prefer their meals fresh, and a seemingly lifeless possum might not be as appetising as a live one. So when possums play dead in front of predators, they might ultimately decide to leave the animal alone instead of preying on it.
  2. Buying Time: By pretending to be dead, possums hope to buy enough time for their potential threat to lose interest and move on. This act can be a lifesaver when dealing with dangerous predators that are difficult for these animals to fight with. This act helps to buy them some time, and make the predator decide to move on.

The Science Behind “Playing Dead”

We know why possums play dead and what makes them do it. But does it really work? And if yes, then how? If you are curious to know the science behind this intriguing possum behaviour, read on:

  1. Physiological Response:: When a possum enters the state of tonic immobility, its heart rate drops, breathing becomes shallow, and it appears lifeless. This is an involuntary physiological response triggered by extreme stress, which really does make many predators believe that the possum is deceased.
  2. Duration: The duration of this act can vary from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the level of stress and the perceived threat. However, in most cases the duration of the act is enough to deter the predator and save the life of the possum involved in the act.

The Role of Possums “Playing Dead” in Pest Control

Did you know that this particular possum behaviour also plays a huge role in effective possum control in many ways? Let us help you understand how playing dead can be of help to the pest control process:

  1. Possum Relocation: Possums are known to be bothersome pests in some regions, causing significant damage to gardens and homes. Understanding their behaviour, including “playing dead,” can help professional possum control experts in safely relocating them when necessary.
  2. Ethical Considerations: Knowing about possums’ unique survival tactics also raises ethical questions. Pest control companies must approach possum removal with care and consideration for these animals’ well-being.

Misconceptions and Realities

Now, let us uncover some common misconceptions about this possum behaviour that we all are well acquainted with:

  1. The Myth of Revival: Contrary to popular belief, possums do not miraculously come back to life after “playing dead.” Once they enter this state, they are completely immobile and unconscious, and can remain in this state for a few minutes, or sometimes even a few hours.
  2. Frequency of the Act: Possums don’t play dead as a routine escape strategy. It’s a last-ditch effort, and they’ll only resort to it when they believe their lives are in grave danger, so this is not a very frequent act.

Living with Possums

Now that we know so much about these creatures, we also understand that they also deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Even though possums can be real troublemakers when they decide to take up residence in your home, they don’t intend to cause this damage. They are only looking for some food and shelter, and if we find ways to peacefully coexist with these creatures, it can benefit both parties. So, let us look at some ways through which we can live with possums:

  1. Coexistence: In many regions, possums are protected by law due to their ecological importance. Learning to coexist peacefully with these creatures is not only ethical but also beneficial for the ecosystem. Gently encouraging them to leave your property, taking precautionary measures are great ways to coexist with these animals without harming them.
  2. Preventive Measures: For those dealing with possum-related issues, taking preventive measures like securing trash cans and sealing entry points to homes can help reduce the visits these animals pay to your home. Make your home less appealing to possums by keeping it clean, hiding your food sources and trimming overhanging bushes and branches.
  3. Installing a Possum Nesting Box: Keeping in touch with the ethical and legal considerations, you can also install a possum nesting box a little bit away from your house. All you need to do is find a tree that is 4-5 metres above ground level and install the box there. Make it comfortable by adding some twigs and leaves, and the possum will not trouble you or your property.
  4. Natural Deterrents: You can also use natural deterrents such as a chilli garlic spray or peppermint oil to keep possums at bay. These methods are safe and ethical, and will force the animal to move on without causing it any physical harm. Natural deterrents are a great way to keep your home possum-free!
  5. Calling the Professionals: If possums have become frequent visitors to your home and are causing damage to property, you can always reach out to a professional possum control service to help you get rid of the animal in a humane way, without having to worry about the ethical or legal implications.

In conclusion, the possums’ ability to “play dead” is a testament to the fascinating world of wildlife survival strategies. Understanding this behaviour not only helps us appreciate the complexity of nature but also aids in responsible pest control. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or someone looking to peacefully resolve possum-related concerns, knowledge is the key. So, the next time you encounter a possum in the wild or need to address a possum issue around your property, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for these incredible creatures and their unique talent for “playing dead.”

Apart from this, if you seem to have a possum infestation in your home and are confused about how to deal with the situation, leave it to the experts. At Instant Possum Removal, we have a team of trained and experienced pest control professionals who can help you get rid of the possum through safe and humane methods. When it comes to dealing with protected wildlife such as possums, it’s best to leave the work to the professionals. All of our experts are certified and have years of experience in the field, so you don’t have to worry about a thing!

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog post has been diligently fact-checked and written by Nicholas Willmore, an esteemed Australian expert in the pest control industry

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