Let's get some more opossums up in here! The tick problem in Maine this year is for real, and the worst is yet to come. The deer tick season really gets going in June and July before it subsides in the fall. So make sure to check yourself, the kids, and your pets when you frolic outside. I hate ticks and can't find a good evolutionary reason why they live on our planet in the first place. Ants and birds will snack on ticks, and some animals eat ticks-chickens, believe it or not, are one of them. But we need an animal that LOVES to nibble on these horrible little creatures, and for that, ladies and gentleman of Maine, I give you, the unsung hero of tick-haters everywhere: The Opossum. The opossum eats 95% of all the ticks that cross their path... up to 5,000 ticks a year! As a result, they do a significant job in keeping the tick level down and thus tickborne diseases, like Lyme.

 

The opossum is Maine's only marsupial. Yup, it's the closest thing to a kangaroo we have! It has a pouch and everything. They can also hang from a tree with just their tail and are immune to snake bites and bee stings. You can learn more about opossum's HERE.

Maine has 16 different species of ticks, but the one you need to really worry about is the dreaded Deer Tick. That's the one that spreads Lyme Disease. The Maine CDC says several thousand Lyme disease cases are reported every year.

How Dangerous Are Deer Ticks in Maine?

The University of Maine says almost 40% of all deer ticks in Maine carry Lyme disease.

How Can I Tell The Difference Between A Dog Tick and A Deer Tick?

From the Maine CDC Facebook Page:

"Identifying a tick based on its size is not a good way to determine the type of tick since they can be different sizes based on their life stage and how long they have been feeding. The coloring on the scutum, or shield, can help you determine the type of tick. For example, deer ticks have a black scutum and a reddish body while dog ticks have white decorations on their scutum like seen in the image or like white racing stripes."

 

If you want to learn more about Lyme Disease in Maine, check out the fine work that MaineLyme is doing.

 

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LOOK: Here Are 30 Foods That Are Poisonous to Dogs

To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

Even with all of these resources, however, the best cure for food poisoning is preventing it in the first place. To give you an idea of what human foods can be dangerous, Stacker has put together a slideshow of 30 common foods to avoid. Take a look to see if there are any that surprise you.