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Some Facts on the Opossum


There are 65 different species of opossums. Only one of these lives in North America. The Didelphis Virginiana, known as the Virginia Opossum is North America's only marsupial. Unlike so many marsupials of today, the opossum is doing well for the following reasons:

  1. It is adaptable and able to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, insects, small vertebrates etc. For this reason it does well in urban areas.
  2. Even though it is attacked by a large number of predators, man being the worst, the opossum does breed rapidly and the ones that are killed are soon replaced.
  3. It can sometime escape being killed by "playing opossum" or playing dead. It will simply lie on its side with its tongue hanging out of its mouth and its eyes shut. By doing this, it allows itself to be mauled about until the killer loses interest and leaves. If the opossum is not badly injured, when the threat of danger has passed, he will get up and go on about his business.
  4. The opossum dens are located in a variety of areas including stumps, haystacks, vine tangles, attics, garages, road culverts, hollow trees, rock piles, crannies, under buildings, and in the abandoned burrows of other animals. Opossums are not territorial and do not maintain separate home ranges.

Interesting Opossum Facts

  1. They are exceptionally non-agressive and non-destructive. They will not harm people or pets.
  2. They present a far less health risk than do dogs or cats. They are more immune to many diseases than the other animals and are far less likely to carry rabies.
  3. They are quiet and reclusive; solitary animals, except for a mother with babies.
  4. They are beneficial to the enviroment because they eat insect pests, snails and slugs.
  5. They have a remarkable resistance to poisonous snake bites (rattlesnakes, cottonmouth, russell's viper, and asiatic cobra). None of the opossums tested showed any reaction other then fang punctures.
  6. They make a nest by carrying bundles of leaves and stems clasped firmly in their tails.
  7. They are one of the few animals that regularly prey on shrews and moles.
  8. They do not live up to their reputations as raiders of chicken coops.
  9. They are clean and always grooming.
  10. They do not hibernate.
  11. The adults have 50 teeth.
  12. They use their prehensile tail as a fifth hand to help them move around with and they have a thumb (without a nail) on their feet.
  13. They are nocturnal.
  14. They are hunted for sport, pelt and in some states for food.
  15. Contrary to what you many believe, Opossums do not turn over trash cans, nor do they dig holes or destroy gardens or shrubs. If this is being done, perhaps it is being done by a stray dog or a raccoon.

Table Of Contents    The Story of Andy    Interesting Opossum Facts

Description, Vocalizations, Diet and Opossum Links

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