WATCH: Man Picks Up Opossum, Gets Bitten on the Face

by Lauren Boisvert

I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t take some time to talk about my favorite animal, the opossum, and how you really shouldn’t try and kiss it on the butt. Recently, a man on Instagram tried to do exactly that, and got his just desserts. That is, he got bitten on the face by an opossum just minding its own business in the great outdoors.

In a post from the Instagram account Hunting the Wild Co., a guy pulled an opossum by the tail from its safe place in a forested crevasse. He held the animal up for the camera, marveling at his catch, then went to kiss the opossum on its hindquarters. The opossum twisted around and took a bite out of his face, resulting in the man dropping the marsupial and falling backward. The opossum seems to scurry away to safety.

Apparently, the group assumed this was an opossum they knew, named Earl. They exclaimed their excitement at finding him, only to scream and yell once the grabber was bitten. Just goes to show, don’t assume every opossum is the one you know.

Why Opossums Are Wicked Cool

The Virginia Opossum is the only marsupial native to the United States, which I think makes them pretty special already. They’re solitary animals, nomadic in nature, and are generally non-aggressive. When threatened, they usually play dead, mimicking the smell and look of a dead animal. This is an involuntary response, however, and not something an opossum does consciously. It will usually turn away a predator, but humans are sometimes more finnicky, and could move the animal or dispose of the body; the opossum’s unconscious body can be prodded, picked up, and moved without any response for up to four hours.

Their young, called joeys, are born at a very early stage; they then have to find their way into the marsupial pouch where they continue to grow. As someone who’s held an opossum, I can tell you they’re surprisingly soft, like cats. Honestly, I could wax poetic about these amazing marsupials all day, but why do some people hate them so much, you’re wondering? If they’re non-aggressive, and are just generally hanging out for the vibes, what’s there to hate about opossums?

Why Do They Get a Bad Rap?

A lot of people believe in the notion that opossums carry rabies. While any mammal can get rabies, it’s extremely rare for an opossum to be infected. Due to their low body temperature, the virus doesn’t have a place to thrive, and so it dies out, according to a report by World Class Wildlife Removal. There are other things to worry about with these animals, of course, like ticks and parasites, so don’t go out looking for opossums just for fun.

Additionally, some residents complain about their simple existence. They look like trash cats, sure, but they can actually be really helpful in gardens. They eat snails, slugs, insects, small rodents, and any rotten fruit that falls from trees, according to the Humane Society. They’ll clean up messes left by raccoons or other animals that like to get in the garbage, too.

So, essentially, opossums are non-aggressive, shy, introverted, and rarely carry rabies. But, don’t go pulling one out of its hole in the middle of the night if you know what’s good for you.