The opossum is a marsupial of the order Didelphimorphia, a species endemic to the Americas. Some people call them the only marsupial in the American Continent. Marsupials are the group of mammals commonly thought of as pouched. Mothers keep and nurse their young for weeks inside a pouch.
For many people in Yucatan, opossums are unpleasant, ugly and disease-carrying animals (which is totally not true), even though these animals are important part of the ecosystem, since, among many other reasons, they are the natural predator of the “pic“, an insect that causes the chagas disease, that has affected 15 people so far this year.
Trypanosoma cruzi is the name of this parasite that causes a pathology called Chagas disease, which is a silent condition that affects around seven million people worldwide.
Fortunately, groups such as Rescate Animal have the mission of stopping the cruel deaths that many specimens suffer daily.
On the actions carried out by the association, Katia Gómez Godínez, volunteer, explained that Rescate Animal seeks to rescue wildlife and return it to the ecosystem, because they find animals that are injured or in the case of opossums, many times the mothers get hit by cars so they rescue their offspring, feed them, heal them and then release them into their natural habitat.
She added: “In the state of Yucatán there is a lot of misinformation, since these animals are mistaken with foxes, skunks or weasels, but they are very different. Weasels and foxes do feed exclusively on meat, but opossums are omnivorous, they eat fruit, plants and insects. The fact is that in Yucatan, people believe that these mammals are transmitters of rabies (probably because they look like rats), and that is why they kill them.”
“What we want to do is to make people understand that these animals are pest controllers. They eat insects, among which is the pic, which is a dangerous chagas desease vector. We need to take care of this important species.” Gómez Godínez said.
On the other hand, she indicated that the ways in which people kill these marsupials are very cruel: sometimes they burn them, stone them to death, hit them with shovels, kick them or hit them with their cars.
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