2018-04-18 / Front Page

Benefits of possums and turkey vultures

Possums have been around for millions of years, dating back to the dinosaurs. They will never be voted the cutest of animals.

Possums are a little resistant to rabies because their body temperature is a bit lower than most mammals, making it very difficult for the rabies virus to live and grow inside them. If you approach one, they will show you their teeth and grunt and hiss. They even hyper-salivate, which makes people think they have rabies, because that is one of the things we see in a rabid animal.

Possums are scavengers and will eat anything, including small insects that try to eat them. You see, we need possums because they attract ticks, lots of them. Since possums are prolific groomers of their fur, they eat the ticks. It is said they can consume about four thousand ticks a week, and a lot of those could be potentially lyme carrying ticks.

Vultures probably prevent the spread of diseases. In one study, in which vultures were fed disease-causing organisms, including anthrax, it was found that most bacteria were killed in the vulture’s highly acidic stomachs. In essence, vultures eat and sterilize contaminated meat.

The majority of wild mammals do not die due to predators, instead, they die from diseases, starvation, parasites, fights over mates, competition or accidents. In the absence of vultures, rotting meat would be consumed by other creatures that many humans find undesirable, such as maggots and bacteria. Most people would prefer a vulture over thousands of bacteria or several pounds of maggots.

Here are a few websites for helping animals: www.mercyforanimals.org or www.friendsofanimals.org.

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