An adaptive species of “massive rats” on a raccoon’s diet are becoming a common encounter for Toronto homeowners, wildlife experts say.

A decade ago, opossums — or possums — were a rare sighting in urban regions of Greater Toronto.

But over recent years, animal control technicians have seen a surge of the rat-like marsupials inside the city.

“In the last couple years, there’s been a little explosion of them,” said Derick McChesney, owner of the wildlife removal service SWAT (Specialized Wildlife Apprehension Technicians). “We’ve at least doubled the (possum) jobs we do a year.”

The possum, about the size of a large fat cat on short legs, is an omnivorous scavenger that, like raccoons, tends to feast on people’s garbage.

“In a city, that’s pretty good because we’re a pretty messy species, us humans,” said Toronto Wildlife Centre’s executive director, Nathalie Karvonen.

Possums are probably just about as dangerous as a raccoon, said Carlo Panacci, who owns Cain Pest Control in Toronto. Still, he warned, don’t confront a possum.

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