From Upstate Johnny G on the topic of urban opossums:
Brooks, please get the truth out about 'possums. According to my vet, they are not prone to rabies. From wiki (where it has a footnote reference) "Opossums are about eight times less likely to carry rabies than wild dogs, and about one in eight hundred opossums are infected with this virus."
We raised an orphan possum a couple of years ago. When it was rescued it was only a few inches long and when we released her she was fully grown. Queens Crapper has it right....possums eat all sorts of things, including insects, fruit, carrion, and sometimes small animals like frogs or small birds, but the one we had loved yogurt, fruit, and cat food the best. If they are digging in your garden they are probably seeking out grubs and such -- the same pests that people fight with nasty poisons that are much more of a hazard than any possum.
Their teeth look sharp, but I've felt them and they are so small and close together that they don't feel sharp and dangerous. As I recall, I let the possum close its jaws on my finger and it didn't even hurt let alone break the skin. An opossum may hiss at you but that's because it's scared. Ours never even tried to bite or act aggressive in any way and we raised it around several small dogs and cats. That possum loved to ride around sitting on your shoulder!
Almost everything in that Courier article reflects ignorance and stupidity. Possums are not a threat to people or dogs or cats. People are the main threat to possums!! They are actually very gentle creatures who want to be left alone to go about their business. Instead, ignorant buffoons deliberately run over them in the street or poison them thinking they are rats. I can understand people being surprised to see an unfamiliar animal in their neighborhood, but come on people stop the hysterics. In case you have forgotten, you are supposed to be tough, cynical New Yorkies who are not fazed by anything. Stepping over homeless beggars in Midtown a block from the glittery emporiums of Madison Ave doesn't seem to affect anyone, but a tiny funny-looking animal sets off a panic? C'mon!
And I love the question: "how did possums get to NYC?" Duh! Possums were probably there before the Indians! Possums are native to the east coast. Possums won't hurt you, will probably improve your garden, will probably reduce the rat population by eating garbage rats would feed on, so leave'm alone!