- Trappers Hate to Trap Possums
- Possums Live Slow, Die Young
- Possums Are Used for Alzheimer Studies
By Jill J. Easton
At two years old a possum is timeworn. By their second birthday, a possum is starting to look and act like a codger. Their fur loses whatever gloss and shine it once had, and bones develop arthritis and other aging diseases. They also start exhibiting signs of senility. They forget and eventually have problems doing even simple tasks like getting food and water. In the wild, a possum that makes it to their third birthday is almost unheard of.
Possum’s May Help Provide Answers for Alzheimer’s
Several scientific studies are currently underway on possums since they age out so young. Biologists hope to discover ways of combating human diseases like Alzheimer’s and senile dementia based on what happens to the animals during their rapid aging process.
Little Use for Possum Fur
Unfortunately, American possum fur is not in high demand for clothing. Opossum skins are thinner than most furbearers, which makes them a poor choice for coats or other heavy garment uses. In recent years, the pelts were used as a cheap substitute fur for trim, but the fur glut has made other skins more popular.
For fly-tying dubbing, possum is considered the best natural substitute for harp seal and is also used for Atlantic salmon and steelhead flies. In the 18th century squares of the fur were commonly used as bathtub sponges.
Trappers Hate Possum’s
Trappers hate possums because they clog up traps that could be catching more valuable animals. Right now in the year 2017, a prime XXL possum pelt may bring seventy-five cents. The skinned and fleshed grinner I recently sold – a good, big, prime pelt – brought fifty cents. This is less than they were worth 70 years ago.
That seems to be about it. No wonder possums have so few friends.
Love or hate them, it doesn’t much matter. Possums will continue colonizing the world in their slow-moving, simple-brained way, eating chickens, stealing dog food and being the unique animals that they are.
How Not to Catch Possum’s
If there is a possum anywhere in range it will get caught. Given the chance it will get caught several times. If you want to trap in an area where grinners are present: plan on several days of gray bonanza, or put out lots of traps and hope that a few will be left to trap animals that are actually causing problems, or have value as fur.
Possums respond to almost every lure and bait, they usually blunder into traps that are set for other animals. The only places I haven’t caught possums is in coon and mink sets right on the edge of water and in cage traps. Evidently, going through a door is too complex for their simple minds.
Killing a possum is much more difficult than catching one. The best place to shoot a possum is in the ear with the gun angled toward the nose. There are stories about trappers who have put half-a-dozen bullets into a possum, left it for dead and found the same possum in the same trap the next day. You aren’t going to win with possums, the best you can do is grin and bear it.
Possum’s Eat Deer Ticks
One good thing is, they eat deer ticks. In that way, they help control the spread of Lyme disease. Maybe one good reason why we should always let them live unless they are a schoolyard nuisance or are diseased.