Possums, Should New Yorkers be Worried?

One night a couple of weeks ago my roommate and I noticed a small animal crawling over the fence into our backyard.  We see stray cats in the yard all the time and exploring, so we thought that we had another stray coming over for a visit. After we got a closer look at it though we realized it was definitely too ugly to be a cat, even a stray one. We quickly realized that it was an opossum, or “possum” in everyday speak.

I was completely baffled by this creature: a possum in Queens? I did a little research and found out that there have been enough possum sightings in Brooklyn to warrant a New York Post article in March chronicling the creatures adventures in that borough.  These animals reproduce fast; the article quotes an  Urban Park Ranger as comparing their short pregnancies to a bowel movement.  Some local blogs in Brooklyn have also reported sightings including Lost City and BrooklynRowHouse.  Brooklyn is a far way from Astoria where I live though.

The animals almost never harm humans directly. when encountering a person they usually just act dead, or “play possum”. However, they can potentially carry disease-spreading parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites.  They also have been known to attack small animals, which may worry pet owners.

So do you believe that these pests are a threat to New Yorkers at all? What do people think should be done about them?

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