Opossums

98 species

The opossum is a nonaggressive marsupial endemic to the Americas. In the United States and Canada, the only species found is the Virginia opossum. It is often simply referred to as an "opossum", and in North America, they are commonly referred to as possums. Opossums are usually solitary and nomadic animals; they stay in one area as long as food and water are easily available. Some families will group together in ready-made burrows or even under houses. As nocturnal animals, they favor dark, secure areas below ground or above. When threatened or harmed, they will "play possum", mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. In the case of baby opossums, however, the brain does not always react this way at the appropriate moment, and therefore they often fail to "play dead" when threatened. Opossums eat dead animals, insects, rodents, birds, eggs, plants, fruits, and grain. Many large opossums are immune to the venom of rattlesnakes and pit vipers and regularly prey upon these snakes. They are also notable for their ability to clean themselves of ticks, which they then eat. Some estimates suggest opossums can eliminate up to 5,000 ticks in a season!
The opossum is a nonaggressive marsupial endemic to the Americas. In the United States and Canada, the only species found is the Virginia opossum. It is often simply referred to as an "opossum", and in North America, they are commonly referred to as possums. Opossums are usually solitary and nomadic animals; they stay in one area as long as food and water are easily available. Some families will group together in ready-made burrows or even under houses. As nocturnal animals, they favor dark, secure areas below ground or above. When threatened or harmed, they will "play possum", mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. In the case of baby opossums, however, the brain does not always react this way at the appropriate moment, and therefore they often fail to "play dead" when threatened. Opossums eat dead animals, insects, rodents, birds, eggs, plants, fruits, and grain. Many large opossums are immune to the venom of rattlesnakes and pit vipers and regularly prey upon these snakes. They are also notable for their ability to clean themselves of ticks, which they then eat. Some estimates suggest opossums can eliminate up to 5,000 ticks in a season!