Southern opossum, Black-eared opossum, Gambá, Possum, Manicou, Common opossum, Southern, Black-eared opossum, Gambá, Possum, Manicou
The common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis ), also called the southern or black-eared opossum or gambá, and sometimes called a possum, is a marsupial species living from the northeast of Mexico to Bolivia (reaching the coast of the South Pacific Ocean to the central coast of Peru), including Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, where it is called manicou. It prefers the woods, but can also live in fields and cities.
The Common opossum is a marsupial species living in the Americas. It is similar in size to a house cat. The fur of the opossum is actually yellow in the under-fur but is hidden by the longer black guard-hairs that cover it, while the tail, fingers, and face are lighter. It has large ears that are usually black, and its face is usually a pale peach in color, with black whiskers and eyes that reflect reddish in light.
Common opossums occur from the northeast of Mexico to Bolivia (reaching the coast of the South Pacific Ocean to the central coast of Peru), including Trinidad and Tobago. The live in tropical dry and mois forests, but can also be found in fields and cities.
Common opossums are mainly nocturnal and terrestrial, but will also readily climb in trees for nesting. They use a wide range of nest sites. Most commonly they will create one in the hollow of a tree; however, they will also dig a burrow or nest in any dark location if nothing else is suitable (which often gets them in trouble with humans). Opossums enjoy denning underground, but do not spend as much time underground when it is dry season. Outside of the breeding season, they are usually solitary. A male opossum's home range (distance traveled at night) can vary in size from wet to dry seasons while a female has a more stationary home range when she is breeding. Males are usually most active between 11 pm and 3 am at night. Common opossums comunicate with the help of visual displays and vocally; their common sounds include growls, hissing, or screeches.
Common opossums are polygynous breeders, meaning that males mate with more than one female. After the gestation period of 13-15 days, females give birth to 5-9 offspring. They may reproduce between one and three times per year and raise their young by themselves. The young are born tiny, blind, and helpless and remain inside the mother's pouch for about 50 days. They usually stay with the mother for the first few months of their lives and reach maturity before they are one year old.
Common opossums are currently not endangered, however, in some areas of their range they are collected for their meat. These animals are aslo often trapped and killed because they are considered pests due to their somewhat raccoon-like behavior; they raid trash cans, nest in locations that are not suitable, and caus mayhem if encountered within a human living space.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Common opossum total population size. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.