The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found in North America north of Mexico. In the United States, it is typically referred to simply as a possum. It is familiar to many North Americans as it is often seen near towns, rummaging through garbage cans, or as roadkill. They are about the same size as a large house cat, having a triangular head with a long pointed nose. The fur is grayish and is everywhere except its ears, tail, and feet. Amongst their fur is long white-tipped guard hairs. The fur color may differ according to the population’s range. Their ears are large and delicate and the tail is prehensile, adapted for gripping and wrapping around tree limbs.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and ani...
Scavengers are animals that consume dead organisms that have died from causes other than predation or have been killed by other predators. While sc...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Zoochory animals are those that can disperse plant seeds in several ways. Seeds can be transported on the outside of vertebrate animals (mostly mam...
Scansorial animals are those that are adapted to or specialized for climbing. Many animals climb not only in tress but also in other habitats, such...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
U.U.S. States Animals
Virginia opossums live in most parts of the United States that are east of the Rocky Mountains, and along the west coast from British Columbia in Canada and to Baja California. It is also found in Mexico and Central America. The animal lives in a wide range of habitats, including open woods, deciduous forests, and farmland. It prefers wet areas like swamps, marshes, and streams.
Virginia opossums are nocturnal, solitary, and terrestrial. They are very good climbers and may establish their dens in trees. They begin their nightly activities at dusk and are active until dawn. They don’t hibernate but do reduce activity during the coldest seasons. Denning sites vary and may include buildings, abandoned burrows, and hollow trees. Virginia opossums change their denning sites often. They only remain in one den for a long period when weaning young.
These opossums are polygynous, which means that one male mates with multiple females. Breeding is typically from December to August. The brief gestation period is 12 to 13 days and up to 25 young may be produced in each litter. Newborns are the size of a honeybee and once delivered they climb up into the mother's pouch. On entering the pouch, each baby must find a nipple and attach itself. The young remain latched for 2 months and in the pouch for 2.5 months. They then climb onto the mother's back, where she carries them for the remainder of their time together. It is during this time that baby opossums learn survival skills. They leave their mother after about 4 or 5 months. Reproductive maturity is reached within their first year of life, at about 6 months for females and 8 for males.
There are no major threats to this species. In some areas, they can be trapped or hunted by humans but the main threat from humans is a collision with motor vehicles.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Virginia opossum total population size, but this animal is common and widespread throughout its known range. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are increasing.
These opossums are scavengers, making them very important in their habitat. By eating carrion, the risk of disease spreading in the area is lowered. They are important as seed dispersers, redistributing undamaged seeds from the genera Diospyros and Asimina, among others.