It is an altogether rare occurrence, but if you do get bitten by a possum, it is important that you know this – possums rarely have rabies. It is extremely rare for possums to be rabid as their body temperature is too low for the survival or replication of the rabies virus.
This is the most common fear that accompanies possum bites and it is largely due to the critter’s defensive posture of baring its teeth and drooling from its mouth. But that is all it is – a defensive mechanism to scare predators away.
That being said however, a possum will bite if it is cornered or attacked by dog, human, or other predator. Brushtail possums are more likely to bite than the ringtail possums. Here’s what to do if you ever get bitten by a possum:
What to do
Wash the bite site very well with soap and water
Apply an antiseptic on the bite site and put a band aid on. Keep an eye on the wound and look out for sign of an infection. The probability of an infection is also low because possums seldom have harmful bacteria in their mouth like dogs and cats, due to their largely fruit and plant diet.
If an infection does set in, go to the Doctor’s for some antibiotics.
A Rare Infection
In 2011, two people were diagnosed of a very rare infection caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, as a result of being bitten and scratched by possums. Known modes of transmission for the Tularemia bacteria include insect or tick bites, and handling of infected animals and carcasses.
Their symptoms included a persistent skin infection at the bite sites and in their lymph glands. Both victims however recovered after the administration of long-term antibiotics.
And If Your Pet Gets Bitten
Domestic animals can get bitten too – a curious cat or an excitable dog that would not leave the possum alone, may just earn themselves a snip from the critter’s sharp teeth. What can you do in this instance?
If the wound is superficial, you may not need to take it over to the Vet. Clean it up and continue to keep it clean. Apply a triple antibiotic ointment like Neosporin as often as the pet would allow. This is because the bite could cause an abscess. Watch out for signs of an infection too, in which case you should make that trip to the Vet’s.
If the wound is deep, you should certainly take the pet in to see the Vet as quickly as you can, as it may need to be stitched, or receive a tetanus shot.
Read more on the How to Get Rid of Opossums