Our friend: The Opossum

Posted in: Wildlife Rehabilitation

We are lucky to have among us the quiet, slow-moving, very clean Virginia Opossum.

The only marsupials in North America, the opossums were present on our planet when dinosaurs roamed. They are immune from rabies and should be welcome in everyone’s garden, as they consume insects, ticks, snails, slugs, beetles, cockroaches, mice and fruit and grains. They have “superpowers” against snakes. Litters average about eight and just like baby kangaroos and koalas, opossum babies stay inside the mother’s pouch to nurse and develop. After about 2 months, the babies leave the pouch and ride around on their mother’s back.

Understanding the “Playing possum” idiom: It is one of the most effective ways the opossums defend themselves. When unable to flee, when extremely frightened the opossums fall into an involuntary coma. They become stiff and their mouth will gape open. This condition might last between 40 minutes and 4 hours and most predators will abandon their attack, thinking the opossum to be dead.

Opossums do not hang by their tails but they use the tail to stabilize their position while climbing and walking. Opossums may growl, drool, and show their 50 teeth when frightened, but in reality are placid and prefer to avoid any confrontation.

“Male opossums are called “jacks” and females “jills” and babies “joeys”.

1 Comments for : Our friend: The Opossum
  1. Reply

    Saw this on a critter cam a couple nights below.
    Pretty creative use of the prehensile tail.
    (Forgive the title misspelling)

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