How dangerous is a juvenile opposum?

From the NYT, they had a photograph of a [extremely cute] ‘juveline opposum’, and someone handling it with a nuclear-reactor-handling thickness glove.

So how dangerous would those be in real life? Scratch you bad? Puppy soft? Deadly cuts?

(scroll down the link for the picture on the right)

My 8yo daughter just saw her first possum last night as it wandered through our back yard. She was very excited, and then scared.

Their claws are fairly sharp (but small) as they use them for climbing, but it’s probably their teeth that are the greatest concern. They’re little needles and that’s what they present when cornered, along with an awful hissing. I would use gloves too, though that little guy probably couldn’t do too much damage.

That’s your idea of “extremely cute”? The mind boggles.

Them things have a mouth full of sharp and nasty teeth, and the disposition to use them. I’m not sure I’d rely on the gloves I saw in the photo, but maybe the young’uns can’t bite that hard.

That looks like a fairly standard leather work glove to me, although it’s possibly new (judging by the color) and/or too large for the person wearing it. The article says they were expecting rats and mice in the live traps, so they came prepared to reach in and pull them out. My impression is that with small mammals the risk isn’t that they’ll shred your hand (although a good solid bite would HURT), it’s the possibility of infection and rabies. You do not want to give them a chance to break your skin. A heavy leather glove sounds about right for stopping bites.

I have been told that adult possums can be NASTY. Don’t approach them, and don’t let your pets do so either if you can prevent it.

Possums don’t hardly ever carry rabies, it’s almost unheard of in possums. They’re highly resistant to most diseases.

I’ve helped a wildlife rehabber friend hand-feed baby possums. I think they’re so ugly they’re really adorable but most people’s mileage varies! They will nip though, especially if hungry and eager and they have needle-sharp little teeth. Also when handling any wildlife, it’s generally good practice to assume it’s carrying all sorts of pathogens, or can bite. My friend used either heavy leather gloves or metal mesh gloves for handling most critters, even wee babies.