Trail Cam Captures Opossum Pulling Ticks Off A Deer's Face

December 19, 2019

This trail cam photo beautifully demonstrates a symbiotic relationship -- a special interaction between species that provides a balance that can only be achieved by working together.

oppossum eating ticks off deer
Credit: Vermont Wildlife Coalition

The photo, posted by the Vermont Wildlife Coalition, shows an opossum pulling ticks off a deer's face.

Tick infestations are serious in the dry months and have even killed young deer.

And possums love to eat ticks.

"We found that the average opossum kills thousands of ticks every week wandering through the forest," says Felicia Keesing, a biologist at Bard College and an Adjunct Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

"So, the opossum wanders through the woods and ticks get on them just like they might get on any mammal wandering through the woods. But the opossums groom them off and kill them in the process of the tick wandering around trying to find a place to feed."

Opossums are the unsung heroes in curbing Lyme disease.

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