Having three friends that are suffering the long term effect of Lyme disease, and being in a profession that puts me in the woods all summer long, I am always interested in any information concerning ticks. Tick expert Richard Ostfeld, from the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, explained that opossums are actually the "unsung heroes in the Lyme Disease epidemic, "Because many ticks try to feed on opossums and few of them survive the experience. Opossums are extraordinarily good groomers, it turns out – we never would have thought that ahead of time – but they kill the vast majority – more than 95% percent of the ticks that try to feed on them.”

Extrapolating from their findings, Ostfeld said, “ the team estimated that in one season, an opossum can kill about 5,000 ticks. So these opossums are walking around the forest floor, hoovering up ticks right and left, killing over 90% of these things, and so they are really protecting our health."

Other tick-borne illness includes red meat allergy, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), tularemia, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis.

So the next time you encounter a possum hug its neck.