I should start with a disclaimer. I think possums are really, really great. They scream, hiss, hang upside down and have tons of teeth. I wish I was that cool.

I won't, however, pretend that an encounter with an unexpected possum isn't frightening. The closest I've even been to a possum was on a late-night jog in very North Lubbock. I nearly tripped over a possum that was just chilling in the middle of the road.

It was an absolute unit, too. About the size of a beagle but more sprawled (if that makes any sense). Have you ever "silent screamed"? I have. But as soon as I got over the surprise I was delighted by the encounter. The possum just stared at me in utter confusion.

I encountered a possum on a public road, and while I doubt it paid any taxes, I still think the road belongs to both of us. But what if I had encountered it in my yard? What are you supposed to do if there's a possum in your yard? 

The best possible thing to do is to leave it alone. If you have a possum, then the possum is eating something in your yard. It very well could be quietly taking care of a huge tick infestation free of charge. A possum can eat 5000 disease-spreading ticks in a season. They also eat other pests like cockroaches, slugs, snakes, and mice. Possums are total bros. Just don't try to pet it, despite your overwhelming urges, and the possum will give you plenty of space, too.

Also, it's nearly impossible for you or your pets to catch a disease from a possum:

Most diseases affecting pets or humans— like rabies, canine distemper, canine parvovirus, panleukopenia, flu, and norovirus—can be carried by many animals with higher body temperatures, but can’t replicate in an opossum’s body unless the opossum has a fever. It’s extraordinarily rare for humans or pets to catch diseases, especially viruses, from opossums.

I get it, they might also knock over your outdoor trash. But in Lubbock, we mostly all have dumpsters. Keeping the lid closed will likely solve any messes possums might make (although it could also be raccoons or cats causing that problem, too). If you have an outdoor trash can, make sure the lid is on tight and dump it frequently. If the possum is only there for trash, it'll move on of its own accord.

But what if the possum in your yard has moved on from the earthy realm? Remember: playing dead is actually a real adaptation of possums and unlike cartoons, they can take up to four hours to snap out of it. However, if your possum is undisputably dead, then you can call animal control to come to scoop it up.

But what if you just don't like the possum? Well, you will almost certainly have to pay for a professional pest control person to come to grab your possum. And don't assume it's going to live on a nice ranch, either. I wouldn't take this option, but it's your yard and your decision.

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