Letter: Cherish possums: They devour deer ticks

A possum — hunting for ticks perhaps — in a Little Compton yard. A possum — hunting for ticks perhaps — in a Little Compton yard.

 

A possum — hunting for ticks perhaps — in a Little Compton yard.

A possum — hunting for ticks perhaps — in a Little Compton yard.

To the editor:

The local Possum (family Didelphimorphia), the only American marsupial, should be nurtured because it loves to eat deer ticks, the kind that cause Lyme Disease. Its body appears to harbor fewer ticks than other wild mammals commonly found in our gardens and fields in New England.

That possums have few ticks may be due to their eating them off their fur — or ticks just don’t favor the blood of a marsupial. Does any reader know the reason?

Here is an image of a possum in a Little Compton garden, taken in May of 2007 rooting for ticks perhaps in the tall grass. We also got a photo of one at night a few days ago  before the snow started to fall, taken by an infrared camera. They divide their home between a hole in an overgrown rose garden and the current burn pile of sticks and fallen branches, exiting the latter in a big huff with each conflagration but never seeming too perturbed.

Julie E.M. McGeoch

Little Compton

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