There are two huge reason why you wouldn't want to touch an opossum with your hands:
1 – disease.
2 – potential injury.
Opossums have both claws and teeth, 50 teeth to be exact. They will use them in biting and scratching ways to protect themselves, males will fight for territory and mating rights, and females will fight to defend their young. Fights can also break out over food.
When opossums are attacked, they will perform one of three actions. They will either scamper off as fast as they can, hopefully to a place to safety; play dead and wait until the predatory/attacking animals has released its grip enough o wake back up and scamper off; or bite and scratch its way out. It is absolutely pot luck which one you will be faced with.
Even if you are not bitten or scratched by the opossum, direct contact with the animal can lead to a transmission of diseases, such as, tularaemia, leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, etc. These are passed on through urine and feces just as much as they are by direct contact, and in many cases, it is through the waste material that the majority of damage is caused.
If you do need to handle these animals at all, you must do so wearing full protective clothing. This is not an overreaction, but a safety precaution to keep you, your family, and your home safe.
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