Saturday 21 December 2019

Opossum seen grooming Deer for Ticks in Vermont.

The Vermont Wildlife Coalition has released a camera-trap photograph in which as Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana, can be seen removing Ticks from the face of a Deer, which has apparently approached the Marsupial for this service. Virginia Opossums are known to be major consumers of Ticks, and therefore thought to be a significant control of Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, which they usually acquire by visiting Tick-infested areas of woodland and then picking off any Ticks that attempt to attach to them, but this is thought to be the first time another animal has been seen approaching an Opossum for grooming, a form of behaviour more associated with marine organisms such as Cleaner Fish.

A Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana, grooming a Deer in a forest in Vermont. Vermont Wildlife Coalition.

Virginia Opossums are North America's only native Marsupial, and, unlike many Marsupials, are extremely adaptable in their habits, rapidly taking to new environments and food sources when these become available. They were confined to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America as far as Costa Rica, until the early twentieth century, since when they have colonised much of the rest of the United Stares and southern Canada, spreading through man-made habitats, such as farms and gardens, into areas such as the forests of New England where they were not previously found.

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