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Gray Four-eyed Opossum

Posted on Mar 23, 2017

This is a young Gray Four-eyed Opossum (Philander opossum) caught in one of our mammal traps, as we were surveying for an unusual jungle rodent called Watson’s Climbing Rat (Tylomys watsoni) in Rara Avis Nature Reserve, Costa Rica. Believe it or not, the rat would have been bigger than this opossum (and particularly fond of chocolate and soap). Like it’s cousin, the Virginia Opossum, these guys show a remarkable resistance to venoms and poisons, including snake venom, and are relatively immune to dangerous snake bites.

In North America, opossums have been credited with being a biological control agent of deer ticks, which are capable of spreading Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Ongoing medical research is investigating how these possum super powers could be harnessed to some day help save human lives.