Opossum Paw Print

 

Opossum:

The opossum is a medium-sized animal with a heavy-set body that resembles a large house cat.  They have long heads with a pointed snout, long, coarse body fur and an essentially naked long scaly tail.  Females have a fur-lined pouch to carry their young.  Front feet have 5 toes; back feet have 4 toes and what looks like a long thumb.  The tail and feet are adept at grasping.  Their body color ranges predominately in the grayish-white hues, with black tipping.  The tail is black about halfway up, and then turns yellowing-white to pink.  Their lifespan is only about 2 years in the wild.



Mother Opossum with babies in her pouch
   
Opossums are nocturnal.  Occasionally they may be seen early evening, prior to sunset.  They are somewhat nomadic, with several different favorite dens within their territory.  They prefer wooded areas near a water source.  Upon maturity, they tend to become solitary.  Opossums do not hibernate, but may "hole up" for a few days during bad winter weather.

When frightened, they may expose their 50 sharp teeth, drool excessively and growl or hiss.  They can emit a stinky secretion or may play dead.  They prefer running to fighting.

These shy, nocturnal marsupials with feet like human hands, tissue paper thin ears, prehensile tails and the most intimidating smile in the universe are determined to survive.



Baby Opossums - Just beginning to get fur
   

Geographic Range:

The opossum is found only in North America, in central & eastern U.S. and along the coast of the western U.S., most of Mexico and Central America.

   

Food Preferences:

Omnivorous - eat almost anything.  Opossums are scavengers and prefer animal matter - mostly already dead rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, skinks, mice, moles, other opossums, birds, eggs, insects, reptiles and amphibians, as well as fruits and grains in season.



Juvenile Opossums
   

Enemies:

Humans, automobiles, dogs, foxes, coyotes, horned owls, mites, ticks, fleas, various parasitic worms, some fungal bacterial and viral infections.



Nearly Full Grown Opossum