What if I am bitten by an opposum?

Possums are very docile, giant looking rats, non-aggressive animals. These critters like other rodents will prefer to run away from confrontations and escape. Possums are not dangerous and is harmless. Since a possum is larger than the natural rats, you might see them as threatening. The possum has a lot of defense mechanism which includes bearing its gritty teeth (over fifty of it). When in danger, possums also assume the dead position by rolling over, this confused the predator and the possum can escape. However, the scary teeth make it fearsome to man.

The fear of being "possum-bitten" boils down to the fear of getting rabies. Possum biting humans is a very rare occurrence. However, if you've been bitten by a possum, keep calm and remember that you are rabies free. Possums have a very low body temperature that cannot support the life cycle of the rabies virus. Don't be bothered by the drooling from its mouth, it's trying to scare you off at that instance. We have provided tips on what to do when bitten by a possum and infections that might come along.

Top on the list is our recommendation to visit a doctor if bitten. Wash the wound thoroughly. Clean off any superficial scars and keep it clean. You might also do well to apply antibiotics. If not properly cared for, scars can become entry port for skin contact, air and water borne disease. If wound is a little deep, visit a doctor as soon as you can and get it stitched up. You should not bother over anti rabies, but can request for a tetanus shot.

Wash off the scar location with soap and water. Apply antiseptic properly and do look out for possible infections. This is all due to their food intake. Rarely the animal with a bacteria conducive mouth, they are still capable of causing infections. In 2011, two people from Tasmania, Australia who were bitten by possums were diagnosed with Tularemia, an infection caused by a bacterium Francisella tularensis. These people were either bitten or scratched by possums. Before the incident, the known vector for the disease were insects and tick bites. Handling of carcasses and infected animals can also be a cause.

Symptoms include a persistent skin infection at the scar and in their lymph nodes. Do note that these symptoms will not leave if untreated. Use of antibiotics will clear the problem as it did in the instance of the two men. If not properly diagnosed by a doctor, it can become unbearable for the sufferer.


Getting a possum bite occurs at a very rare rate. Even with over 50 teeth, the possum will rarely bite (when they do, they cause major damage), even if they bear the teeth at you in self-defense. The possum will rather play dead, a reaction triggered by the brain, to create confusion for their predators. This is the natural instinct that sets in. This said, in rare instances a possum stands to the challenge and bite. When bitten, you can have a look at our tips above and live a good life

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