Opossum hurt in rat trap; Vets warn about dangers to wildlife

SE Mass

Cape Wildlife Center Vet Tech, Riley, helping to clean the foot of an opossum, who was hurt in a rat trap. (Photo courtesy: Facebook/Cape Wildlife Center)

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (WPRI) — Veterinarians are warning people to be cautious about using animal traps.

The Cape Wildlife Center posted a photo on its Facebook page Wednesday morning, of an opossum that got his foot caught in a rat trap.

“Fortunately he had not been trapped long and the foot was only minimally injured,” said Cape Wildlife Center, which is a part of the New England Wildlife Centers.

Once brought to the center, the opossum was put under anesthesia and a vet tech worked to clean his foot.

The animal is expected to make a full recovery, but the Cape Wildlife Center said, “If you use snap traps, please remember to check them frequently in case non-target critters accidentally come across them.”

The Cape Wildlife Center told Eyewitness News, they treat hundreds of animals every year, from mice and rats to birds and squirrels, who are sickened from rat poison, hurt after being caught in glue traps and, or injured from mechanical traps.

“There is no silver bullet technique for rodent control, however, there are more humane methods than others,” said Zak Mertz, Executive Director of Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center.

Glue traps are considered “cheap and cruel” and stick the animals to boards so they often die slowly, according to The Humane Society of the United States.

Poisons can affect more than the intended target.

If a mouse eats rat poison, it doesn’t kill them right away and makes them an easy target for predators since they’re moving slower. The prey that eats the rodent could also get poisoned.

The Cape Wildlife Center offers some tips for people who do use “snap” traps:

  • Check traps frequently
  • Put a trap in a dog crate and close it, so the holes that an animal can pass through are smaller, keeping out raccoons, opossums, and even household pets.

Mertz said, “We understand that rodent control is important to public health. Just do your research and select rodent control responsibly.”

Prevention is the best measure you can take:

  • Secure the outside of your house, patch up holes that could let creatures inside
  • Don’t leave trash out
  • Don’t feed animals outside

If possible, the Cape Wildlife crew suggests leaving the animals alone. Smaller animals get eaten by larger animals, thus allowing the circle of life to naturally continue.

There are some common misconceptions about opossums.

“Everyone associates opossums with rodents, but they’re actually North America’s only marsupial,” said Dr. Priya Patel, Medical Director at Cape Wildlife Center. “They eat ticks which limits tick-borne illnesses.”

Opossums are on the small side and are often not aggressive, so if you don’t bother them, they likely won’t bother you.

It’s also rare for the marsupials to contract rabies, Patel said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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