Do Possums Carry Rabies?

It is possible for opossums to carry rabies, but it is rare. All mammals, including humans and opossums, are capable of catching the rabies virus and becoming ill, but opossums are much more resistant to coming down with the disease than other animals.

Some defensive opossum behavior, like swaying, drooling and hissing, mimics the behavior of rabid animals. This leads people to mistakenly believe that opossums are especially susceptible to rabies, when the opposite is actually the case. Opossums have a lower body temperature than most other mammals. This makes their bodies inhospitable to the rabies virus; however, they are not immune. Certain forms of transmission are more efficient at causing rabies in opossums than others. Inhaling the airborne virus is much more likely to give an opossum rabies, but cases of airborne rabies are very rare. Most infections occur as the result of a bite.