Common Opossum

Common Opossum

Southern opossum, Black-eared opossum, Gambá, Possum, Manicou

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Infraclass
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Didelphis marsupialis
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
2.5 yrs
WEIGHT
1-1.5 kg
LENGTH
265-430 mm

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.

Distribution

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 Opossum habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

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.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Common opossums are omnivores and scavengers. They can eat small insects, small animals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, grass, and also carrion.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
PREGNANCY DURATION
13-15 days
BABY CARRYING
5-9 joyes
INDEPENDENT AGE
90 to 125 days
BABY NAME
joey

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.

Population

Population threats

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.

Population number

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.

References

1. Common Opossum on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_opossum
2. Common Opossum on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/40501/22176071

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