What Do Opossums Eat?
As omnivores, Opossums have a varied and wide-ranging diet. These scavengers will eat fruit, insects, carrion, and small vertebrates. In this article, we will explore their eating habits and find out why opossums are often referred to as “Nature’s Janitors.”
Natural Omnivorous Palette
Insects and Invertebrates
Opossums eat a huge variety of bugs. This includes crickets, caterpillars, beetles, and plenty of other small invertebrates. Famously, this includes ticks, and one myth about opossums states that they eat upwards of 5,000 ticks per season. Opossums do eat ticks, but it has not been proven that the eight-legged pests make up such a significant portion of their diet.
Much like humans, opossums will rarely pass up the opportunity for a sweet, tasty snack. They enjoy fruits such as berries, melons, and apples.
Mice, rats, and small birds are all important parts of an opossum’s diet. Their need for high amounts of calcium necessitates the consumption of skeletal rodent remains.
As scavengers, animal carcasses make up a significant portion of the opossum diet. Carrion is an easy source of protein and calcium for opossums, as it does not require them to actively hunt.
Adaptation to Urban Environments
If left outdoors, pet food is an easily accessible food source for opossums. Be sure to take unattended pet food indoors, as leaving it outside increases the chances of encounters between opossums and humans, which can be harmful to both parties involved.
Unsecured human food waste provides further encouragement for opossums to linger around your residence. Like raccoons, opossums have no problem with rummaging through your trash cans to find scraps of leftover food. This is why it is important to properly secure your garbage bins.
Roadkill provides ample sources of carrion for opossums, but when combined with their tendency to play dead when frightened, this unfortunately tends to get more opossums killed along the side of the road.