Raccoons and possums are two little trouble-makers that can often be found scrounging for food together.
They have similar habits and they enjoy some of the same types of food.
In this article, we will learn how they get on, whether they fight each other, and who would win a fight between a raccoon and a possum.
Do Raccoons and Possums Get Along?
Raccoons and possums get along most of the time. Although they may snap and swipe at each other, they can still share the same space without starting serious fights. When raccoons and possums meet at abundant food sources like garbage piles, there is usually plenty of food to go around and they are content to eat together.
Raccoons and possums have to be good at sharing. They have similar behavior and tend to co-exist in their habitats across North America. The possums we will see in this article are also known as opossums, and they only live in North America., unlike the rather different possums from Australia.
Meanwhile, raccoons can only be found in North America and parts of Europe. So, this article is about raccoons and possums in North America, since this is where they are likely to meet up.
Raccoons and possums have a lot of reasons to cross paths. For one thing, both animals are nocturnal. They prefer going out to search for food at night. All the same, they can also be seen in daylight from time to time, if disturbed from sleep or looking for extra food. Both are generally ground-dwelling animals that also climb trees.
Most importantly, they look in the same places for food. Possums and raccoons are omnivorous. They enjoy eating bugs and meat in different forms.
Raccoons eat smaller animals, such as fish, amphibians, and birds’ eggs. Opossums prefer scavenging the remains of dead animals, including rodents and birds. When raccoons and possums live in urban environments, they both enjoy searching for food sources produced by humans.
Both animals are attracted to domestic pet food that owners leave out for their cats and dogs. Additionally, raccoons and possums love searching through garbage for edible scraps. These are places where raccoons and possums may often be observed spending time together and interacting.
Are raccoons and possums friends?
These animals may be close neighbours but they can’t exactly be considered friends. Although possums and raccoons bump into each other often, they tolerate each other at best. Animals like these that share the same food sources are considered rivals.
It is common for raccoons and possums to engage in a minor face-off over a meal as they get in each other’s way while eating, or if there is only a small amount of food on offer. Between the two, raccoons are larger and heavier, which gives them some advantage.
Do raccoons kill possums
Yes, raccoons do sometimes kill possums. While this happens from time to time, it is not a particularly common outcome. Raccoons are not predators of possums.
Their conflicts are usually a result of wanting the same food. On the other hand, possums also kill raccoons every so often. These animals each have their strengths which means that either one can have the upper hand in the right circumstances.
Also read: Are Possums Afraid Of Dogs?
What is more dangerous? A raccoon or opossum?
We know that raccoons are confident and usually have a slight advantage, but the power dynamic between possums and raccoons will also depend on if the animals are young, fully-grown, weak or sick.
If you are wondering if possums are dangerous, read our full guide here: Are Possums Dangerous
Both possums and raccoons can cause serious harm to their opponent and both stand a reasonable chance of winning a fight under normal conditions.
One factor can create a dramatic situation, and that is rabies. Raccoons are prone to this disease, while possums rarely seem to be affected. A rabid raccoon will behave very differently in a conflict. If the rabies is causing aggression, the raccoon is likely to bite and snap at anything, which makes it a greater threat to any possum that crosses its path.
Rabies can also cause the animal to become confused and uncoordinated. A raccoon in this state is very different from a healthy raccoon, which would otherwise be a clever and quick-witted opponent. In this case, the raccoon is less able to defend itself from threats, such as if a stronger possum chooses to attack.
Related: How Do Possums get Into Your House
Do raccoons and possums fight?
Yes, raccoons and possums have small disagreements. It is possible, although less common, for them to have major fights. Yes, raccoons are larger animals that tend to dominate in a small scuffle, particularly one-on-one.
However, we know that possums are willing to put up a fight. This proves that possums know they stand a chance against raccoons, and they have good reason. Let’s find out their fighting strategies.
For both animals, the first step when under real threat is to run away. We notice that possums usually retreat slightly when raccoons go on the attack.
If a raccoon really wanted to catch up, the possum could not outrun the raccoon. However, this does not appear to be a particularly common situation. Possums usually retreat slightly, while generally standing their ground against raccoons.
This home camera footage shows three raccoons switching between bullying a possum and eating peacefully in the same area. There are many other videos online that give evidence of similar behaviour.
Possum VS raccoon – Who would win in a fight?
In these meetings, raccoons are usually confident and relaxed. They like to push possums around, while the possums are first to assume a defensive stance. That is, unless the possum feels self-assured or threatened enough to attack the raccoon, which then causes the raccoon to react defensively.
In a fight, possums and raccoons both make use of their strong jaws and sharp teeth. They will start by showing their teeth in warning. Raccoons pull back their lips to make their large front teeth visible. Possums open their mouths up into a wide gape that shows the width of their mouths. While possums have smaller teeth than raccoons, this demonstration is no less intimidating. Both sides can do serious damage with their teeth. They will also use their sharp claws for defense.
Small fights between raccoons and possums do not usually progress much beyond snapping, growling and swiping to show who is boss.
In a confrontation, possums and raccoons will both try to create an intimidating display to cause their enemy to back down. A showdown between possums and raccoons is noisy, as each animal makes a particular array of noises intended to frighten the other away. Raccoons snarl and squeal while possums hiss and growl.
If possums feel very threatened and cannot escape, they emit fluids from both ends of their bodies to give the unappealing impression of being sick or diseased, and they will also “play possum”, which means collapsing and pretending to be dead.
This might calm a raccoon that wants nuisance-free access to food. However, if the raccoon has threatened the possum enough for this behavior to come about, playing dead probably will not be enough to stop the raccoon from finishing the job.
What’s worse? A possum or raccoon?
Raccoons and possums are opportunistic animals and can both become a nuisance to humans. Their shared pest behavior includes getting into garbage, which is messy and creates the noisy scuffles we have already seen. Raccoons are more likely to cause mess and damage than possums because raccoons are especially clever in using their clawed paws to access containers and secure items.
Both raccoons and possums may cause drama with household animals, which begins with stealing pet food. While both animals can have peaceful relationships with cats and dogs, raccoons are more likely to stand up to pets and may pass on rabies. Overall, both animals can be a nuisance, but raccoons are slightly more likely to cause trouble.
Are raccoons and possums related
Raccoons and possums are not very closely related, although they have similar behaviour. Raccoons are classed as vertebrate mammalian carnivores, along with other large-toothed meat-eating mammals such as bears, lions and weasels.
North American opossums are vertebrate mammalian marsupials, like kangaroos, wombats, koalas, and many animals found in Australia. Marsupials almost always have a pouch to carry their babies. They also have particularly strong hind limbs that some of them use for leaping or standing upright.
As we have seen, raccoons are larger than possums, and they often get their way. In their many interactions, possums and raccoons are used to disagreements and they usually manage to work it out together. When it comes down to it, either one could possibly win in a fight.