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Appreciate the Opossum for Helping in Garden

May 20, 1999

At last! A good word for the opossum ("Saving a Sluggish Spring Garden Without Using Poison," March 18)!

Many people don't know that favorite foods of the possum are things we don't like: snails, rats, mice, bugs and worms. The opossum is a gardener's best friend. We always wish they would set up permanent camp in our yard, but they're true wanderers, always on the move to the next neighborhood.

Other good things about possums: They "tiptoe through the tulips," moving slowly and carefully in search of snails and other pests. They don't chew on your fence or property. They don't dig. They won't harm your cat or dog and won't bother you, either, because they're shy and afraid of you.

One last fact that many people don't know: The opossum is not a rodent. It is related to the kangaroo, wallaby and koala. Our own native marsupial, complete with pouch. And they've been on this planet longer than most creatures--70 million years.

Let's appreciate them for what they are: fellow gardeners. And let them go about their work in peace!


San Gabriel


We enjoyed reading Robert Smaus' article on snails. Our box turtles would agree that tasty snails are their favorite food.

Just two quick points:

One, God didn't make box "tortoises." Boxes only come in "turtles." In general, the rule of thumb is turtles are carnivores and therefore like snails. Tortoises are vegetarians and disdain snails.

We don't want people running out and getting the wrong kind of animal. If they want a box turtle, they should adopt from us! (Call [800] 938-3553 or visit

Two, make sure that neighbors do not use snail poisons that your turtles might ingest. The only safe snail for a turtle is from your own yard where you don't use pesticides.




American Tortoise (and Turtle) Rescue

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