What It Means When You See an Active Opossum During the Day

While it is perfectly reasonable to have a cause for concern regarding sighting an active opossum during broad daylight, it isn’t all that uncommon.

Humans sometimes just can’t sleep. Sometimes we nap during the day, and sometimes we travel during the night. The same can be said for nocturnal animals like the opossum.

3 Reasons Why

While it is a commonly held belief that active opossums during the day are typically rabid or ill, this is generally a myth (though it can sometimes be true, of course). Like anything, there are exceptions, and in fact, it isn’t totally out of the ordinary to spot an active opossum throughout the day.

Consider the following reasons why an opossum may be active during the day:

  • Food Scarcity – Typically, if food begins to run out, an opossum will venture out during the day in order to hunt for a restock in food supplies, or even just a quick snack. Consider it the equivalent of a human waking in the middle of the night to visit the fridge.
  • Cold Weather – In times of colder weather, opossums may be active during the day in order to find a warmer shelter.
  • Shelter Disturbance – An opossum’s shelter may be disturbed for a number of reasons. Maybe it was intruded on by a group of unwanted opossums. Maybe it was attacked by a predator. Or maybe it was by a human, intentionally or unintentionally, disrupting its habitat.

Is It Rabid or Sick?

As mentioned above, an active opossum during the day does not correlate to the potentiality of it being rabid or sick. That is not to say it could be rabid or sick. 

In other words, the opossum may be rabid or sick. However, it being sighted in broad daylight has no cause or correlation to that effect. Nonetheless, it may be in your best interest to blindly assume that it is rabid or sick. This will ensure your safety, as well as the safety of the marsupial.

More often than not, the opossum or opossums are likely out for a stroll for one reason or another. Whether it’s to escape an unsafe habitat, forage for food, or because they’re simply not tired, don’t be alarmed if you spot one.

Signs of a Rabid or Sick Opossum

Unlike the widely accepted myth, it’s actually quite rare for an opossum to carry rabies, though it is possible. Signs of a rabid opossum are much the same as any rabid animal:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite or interest in eating
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Obvious salivation 
  • Paralysis 

It’s important to note here a fun but dangerous fact:  Have you ever heard of the saying “playing possum”? If not, it means to pretend to be dead. It comes from the impressive defense mechanism that opossums use when presented with a threat, and they do it well. So if you come across a “dead” opossum, give it the benefit of the doubt. Even if you try to poke and disturb it, it may not flinch. It’s best to keep your distance.

If an opossum is a potential or actual danger to you, your loved ones, or your property, don’t hesitate to contact your local wildlife control center to take care of the issue for you.