Meet The Opossum
In North America, the most common type of opossum species is the Virginia Opossum, often misspelled possum, posum, oppossum or opposum. However, this may result from the fact that the proper spelling for similar varieties found in Australia and surrounding countries such as New Zealand, is "Possum". Whatever the spelling, "possum" or "opossum," they are quite a fascinating wild animal with an interesting appearance, anatomy and behavior.
Opossums are gifted with useful physical attributes. They have hand like feet and a grasping tail that enable them to climb trees and grip branches, menacing sharp teeth for eating a wider variety of foods and a handy pouch for carrying their young.
Look at those agile hands seen in the photo above. Opossums are the only non-primate with opposable thumbs (on the rear feet).
The opossum is often mistaken as a variety of rodent. When in fact, they are not a rodent at all, but rather a marsupial, which puts them in the same family as the Australian kangaroo and koala. Like other marsupials, opossum young leave the womb before they are fully developed and complete their development in the mother’s external "pocket".
Opossums are grayish to brown in color, fierce in appearance, and can range in size from as small as a mouse to as big as a large house cat.
Opossums, depending upon age, sex and the matters at hand, can make a variety of sounds including hissing, crackling, smacking and growling.
Opossums are omnivores with a broad diet that can include anything from earthworms to fruits to snakes. They frequently scavenge for food and often killed while attempting to eat highway road kill and garbage.
The term “play possum” comes from the fact that an opossum, when confronted by danger, will often play dead, a response in which their body, like that of a dead animal, becomes still and stiff.
A foul odor similar to that of a dead animal is also emitted from their anal glands to enhance the deception of the act.
You always want to be careful around an opossum playing dead, they can wake up anytime and become a hazard before you know it!
Opossums are nocturnal and tend to favor dark areas and abandoned burrows previously dug by other wildlife. They also like to dig under homes and foundations and can become a nuisance to homeowners.
Opossums have more teeth than any other land mammal. In the photo below, the Wildlife Whisperer is getting ready to release an opossum following a job utilizing humane methods, the opossum has decided to show him his teeth before venturing off to live another day.
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