The spread of Lyme disease is a very unfortunate side effect of the high population of ticks in the Northeast... if you don't know someone whose dog has had a tick scare or who has had one themselves, you're likely the incredibly indoorsy type.

Now, there's an unexpected new way to keep ticks at bay: invite the opossums into your backyard!

Opossum in a tree
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sure, they're hissy creepy giant rats (or smaller versions of Princess Bride's R.O.U.S's) but according to The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, they kill and eat ticks like mega champs. Apparently, possums eat roughly 90% of the ticks they encounter by hoovering up the bugs in their path and thoroughly cleaning their fur.

"I had no suspicion they'd be such efficient tick-killing animals," said Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute.

Neither did we, Rich. Who woulda thunk these greasy-lookin' critters can consume roughly 5,000 ticks in one season?! It may be time for a trip to the possum store. Okay, so maybe you shouldn't harbor a wild animal on your property, but just don't run over any possums playing dead in the street, mmkay?

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