Opossums et al. are wild animals, not pets

March 21, 2018
Richard Gerhold, DVM, MS, PhD

Richard Gerhold, DVM, MS, PhD

Wildlife biologist and DVM says don't feed them, don't adopt them.

Opossums and other such species are likely dwelling in the neighborhood, so your clients may take a liking to (or even leave food out for) these critters. Fetch dvm360 conference speaker Richard Gerhold, DVM, MS, PhD, says treating them like companions is a mistake, however.

"My big concern is when people start wanting to make wildlife into pets," he says. "That's very dangerous for wild animals and for humans and for domestic animals."

He points out that getting close to wild animals can cause them unusual stress that may prompt them to act aggressively. This may lead to injury and even the spread of disease to people and pets.

Wild about wildlife? More articles here:

Audio: Wild ones to watch for.

A public health veterinarian's take on captive wildlife ownership.

Threats in the backyard: Why wildlife is best seen from afar.

"But, I hear opossums eat ticks," clients may protest. While that is true, Dr. Gerhold also notes that so do chickens and other birds, and that this benefit is not reason enough to entice them to hang around.

He also says it's on you, the veterinary professional, to spread the word.

"Honestly, veterinarians should educate owners that they are not pets," he says.

Watch the video to hear more.

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