Virginia Opossum 
(Didelphis virginiana)

Quick Facts

The Virginia Opossum is the only marsupial found in North America.

An opossum will eat just about anything, including carrion.

Newborn opossums are so small you could fit 24 of them into a teaspoon! 
Opossums use their tails like a fifth hand to grip tree branches!
The opossum relies on its excellent hearing to detect prey rustling beneath the forest floor.

When frightened, an opossum may bluff by hissing, screeching and drooling.

The Virginia Opossum, sometimes called a 'possum, is a marsupial (mar-SOOP-e-al).  There are lots of marsupials in Australia, but the Virginia Opossum is the only North American marsupial.

 An opossum is about the size of a house cat.  It has grizzled white and gray fur. Adult opossums weigh about 2-6 kg (4-14 lbs).  They live alone, are active at night, and they are good climbers.

You can find this opossum in the eastern United States, and along the west coast from British Columbia and to Baja California.  They like to live in forests, brushy areas, and farmland.

Opossums are omnivores (OM-ni-vorz).  Their diet includes insects, birds, small mammals, berries and other fruit.  Persimmons, apples and corn are favorite foods.

Newborn opossums are smaller than a dime.  With their barely developed front legs they crawl up through their mother's belly fur and into her pouch.  They stay in the pouch for about 2 months.

Opossums do not hibernate, but during very cold weather they may nest in a hollow log or abandoned burrow for several days at a time.

[ more on Opossums]


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Virginia Opossum

Prepared for IWRC by:

Kieran Lindsey, New Mexico, USA
Joe MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada

Photos by:

Jim Isaacs, South Carolina, USA
TWRC, Texas, USA