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Opossum ‘Hitchhikes’ from San Diego to Honolulu

June 6, 2016, 3:57 PM HST
* Updated June 6, 4:00 PM
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Opossum

A live opossum was captured on Friday, June 3, 2016, by workers offloading a cargo ship at Honolulu Harbor.

A live opossum was captured on Friday, June 3, 2016, by workers offloading a cargo ship at Honolulu Harbor.

At about 3:30 a.m., the workers spotted the animal, chased it into a trash container and held it for inspectors from the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture.

The ship arrived from San Diego, California, but it was not known how it got aboard the ship.

Opossums are known to “hitchhike” in cargo containers.

“The department appreciates the swift actions of the dock workers in containing this animal,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. “Our staff periodically conducts training sessions with personnel of air and sea carriers in handling this kind of situation. We need everyone’s eyes, especially at the ports, to look out for invasive species that may enter our state.”

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Opossums are native to North America and are omnivorous. They eat anything from insects, bird eggs and rodents to fruits and vegetables. Although opossums are less likely to carry rabies than other mammals, they are carriers of parasites and other diseases. Because the origin of the animal is unknown, the opossum is being tested for rabies as a precaution.

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In July 2015, an opossum was captured in Kaka‘ako near the US Immigration and Naturalization Office on Ala Moana Boulevard, an area surrounded by arriving cargo.

In July 2012, an opossum was caught in a cat trap at a Sand Island warehouse, and in August 2011, one was found in a shipping container as it was being unloaded in the Ward Center area.

In 2005, two opossums were found—one was captured inside a military cargo plane at Hickam Air Force Base and the other was found in the mail receiving area of the U.S. Postal Service facility at Honolulu International Airport.

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Individuals who see or know of illegal animals in Hawaii are encouraged to contact the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

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