Opossums Headline News
Inside the Outdoors, May 18
, 2012

When I learned that an opossum had chased a resident down of our city streets in Latrobe, it was one of those two-fold subjects – one of humor and the other of serious thought. Could this action be caused by a rabid animal, or was this critter just acting defensively while making its way to its nesting grounds?

Then, days later a man called me to tell me he was getting rabies shots because he had just be bitten by no other than an opossum.

I felt compelled henceforth that my topic for this column today should center on this animal, for I am finding that few people know much about it, me included.

A few more facts about the first story.

I was walking down to Legion Keener Park and a gentle confronted me to tell me that his wife was chased down Irving Ave. and then went down an alley and disappeared in a hole under the garage of a nearby residence.

He called the local police and allegedly was told that if the animal acts strangely, an officer will come out and put it down.

Unsettled about the animal being nearby, particularly near a school, anyone seeing the animal should be cautious and stay away from it. The Opossum Society of the United States recommends that “Children should be taught not to attempt or feed or touch a wild animal. Opossums are nocturnal, that is they sleep during the day and come out at night, so the chance that a small child will come into contact with an opossum is slim.”

Concerning the man who got bitten, he was trying to trap a ground hog and ended up with the animal of the day. He was trying to release it when it apparently showed its disapproval of spending the night penned up and left his signature on the Latrobean’s arm. He ended up going to the doctor and got his first of four rabies shots.

I was told by an official not long ago that opposums don’t carry rabies. I was glad to find that the above agency had all the answers I needed.

According to opossumsocietyus.org, under the question, “Do opossums carry rabies?”, the answer was spelled out this way – “Any mammal can get rabies. However, the chance of rabies in an opossum is EXTREMELY RARE.”

This website went on to say, “This may have something to do with the opossum’s low body temperature making it difficult for the virus to survive in an opossum’s body.”

I spoke to one representative of the Pennsylvania Game Commission later on last week, and she said, “This is one disease you can’t take a chance with. Even though it is very unlikely one will get the disease from getting bitten from an opossum, victims have to obey the doctors orders.” She, too, concurred with the Society by stating, “Any mammal can carry rabies.” But, she did also state, “It is very, very unlikely that the fellow who trapped the opossum will get rabies.”.

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The word is out. Big trout are being caught out of the lower part of Loyalhanna Creek downstream from what used to be the Iron Bridge. I was told that two fellows (names not mentioned) caught on an average of 12 to 13 trout to day. One fellow told me, “You have to work to find out where they are. It’s not easy. But when you locate them, they are usually a lot of fish together and with a little patience you can get them. They were stocked, by the way at that bridge last Thursday. Anglers are catching them on nightcrawlers.

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I’m excited to reveal that I recently learned the names of some of the holes on the Lower Loyalhanna Creek, those being, “The Fence,” Paddy’s Hole, Horseshoe (now referred to as “The Hole”), “The Island,” “Blue Hole” and “The Trestle.” That’s a start. I need many more. That’s where I need your help. Any information you could add to the above holes would also be of help. Give me a call or email me (see below.) Your help will be greatly appreciated.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.