While on a recent trip, my family visited the aquarium in Chattanooga, TN. Throughout the day they had several live demonstrations. The one that caught our attention the most was an animal the kids would be able to see up close and touch. We were ushered into a staging room, sat on the front row, and eagerly eyed a box cage under the table in front of us. Our curiosity was peaked as we tried to guess what neat animal would be in the mystery box. After an introduction, the speaker finally pulled out the long-awaited animal: an opossum. Talk about a letdown. You could cut the disappointment in the room with a knife. And all of us who were dissatisfied proved our ignorance. The lady went on to explain and mesmerize us with how incredible the opossum actually is. Not convinced? Here is why the opossum is pretty awesome.
- Living Garbage Disposals. Opossums are often considered disgusting and for good reason. They are one of our world’s living garbage disposals. They eat the disgusting, flattened, and splattered road kill. They eat all sorts of trash and junk. Really, they can and will eat just about anything. While this makes them gross, it also makes them extremely valuable for cleaning up much of the filth in our world. But they take it even one step further.
- Disease Resistance. Not only will opossums eat all sorts of nasty things, but they also have an extremely high resistance to disease. For example, opossums eat and remove up to 96% of ticks that land on them and are very resistant, nearly immune, to Lyme disease (Foundation For Biomedical Research – Lyme Disease). They also happen to be exceptionally resistant to rabies (Mother Nature Network). All of this is important since they eat bugs, trash, and dead animals. They can do all of this without much risk of contracting a disease. This is also helpful so it doesn’t spread to other animals and ultimately to people.
- Snake Venom Immunity. One of the most incredible parts of the opossum is their immunity to snake venom. Opossums can neutralize venom from nearly all snakes. They can handle America’s Western diamondback rattlesnake. But they can also handle snakes they have never encountered, like India’s Russell viper (National Geographic). In fact, the only snake the opossum hasn’t been immune to so far is the coral snake (DFW Wildlife Coalition).
- Medical Research. Not only does the opossum have some amazing abilities, it is also leading the way in some extremely significant medical studies. They are looking to mass-produce a peptide in the opossum to create an almost universal antitoxin for snakebite victims (National Geographic). Opossums are also playing a critical role in medical advancements with Lyme disease, skin cancer, severe spinal cord injuries, heart disease, and HIV (Foundation For Biomedical Research – Treatments).
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook how amazing animals can be. They often contain answers to many of the issues of life. Medical answers. Life answers. Even spiritual answers. Psalm 104:24 says, “O LORD, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.”
God has provided so many solutions to our problems if we would look and learn from the wisdom He has embedded into these amazing animals. The Lord’s wisdom, knowledge, and power can be found in some of the most unexpected places; even in an opossum.