Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 18, 2017

Man’s nocturnal neighbor, the possum

By LYDIA BAKER-CRAWLEY, Mt. Pleasant News | Nov 01, 2010

Humans are one of the possum’s greatest predators, according to Oakland Mills Nature Center Conservationist Cari Burnstedt.

Yet, the possum adapts well to living around humans, which is why many get into pet food and garbage.

“People give them opportunities to hang around,” Burnstedt said.

Besides food, people supply possums with shelter opportunities as well. Possums need dens to live in, according to Burnstedt. Places such as brush piles, garages, sheds and even play houses, Burnstedt said, can supply a possum with a ready made den.

Generally, possums are shy and nocturnal and are rarely seen by humans, Burnstedt remarked.

In the wild, possums prefer to live in wooded areas with water nearby and farmland close, Burnstedt said.

According to Burnstedt, the number one reason that possums “move in” to urban areas is habitat loss. Building and real estate development is moving people into possum territory, Burnstedt said.

“Possums have to compete with everything else for their homes,” Burnstedt stated.

Burnstedt said the best thing parents can do is to teach their children to leave wild animals alone.

“I tell all the kids, if an animal changes its behavior in any way, you’re too close,” Burnstedt said.

The main reason people get hurt, according to Burnstedt, is because they are too close and are “messing with them.”

For more on this story, see the November 2 issue of the Mt. Pleasant News.

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