Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana, aka, North American Opossum.
As the song goes, “And a Patridge in a Pear Tree”, from the classic Twelve Days of Christmas. It’s not a Possum – shows you how good I am with one of the best Christmas songs out there, in terms of popularity. Anyway, I discovered this pink-nosed ball of gray fuzz this afternoon and it made me curious about Opossum habitat.
First of all, there is a difference between Possum and Opposum; the later is native to North, Central and South America. The Possum is a common critter down under, an Aussie. However, they are both marsupials, the only ones found in North America. Finding it in this tree is actually quite common. It’s one of their favorite hang-outs. They also prefer marshes and swamps, which is also where I discovered it.
Opossums will look for existing structures like hollow logs and trees, brush piles, or burrows of other animals. You might even find one in your garage – better keep it clean!
They are extremely adaptable and do well in a variety of climates. As long as they have food, water and shelter, they’re pretty much good to go.
Opossum Mama by daynaw3990 from Pixabay
Are Opossums good for anything?
If you happen to find this critter, which commonly roams around at dusk, don’t worry. Opossums will will actually pick through your garden looking for slugs and snails and garbage from spilled pails. They will eat rats, mice, even cockroaches! Perhaps one of the best things about them is that they will eradicate ticks – a natural deterrant against Lyme Disease.
Fun Facts about Opposums
- Don’t judge! Despite their suspicous looks, they almost never get rabies. Being Marsupials, they have a lower body temperature than most mammals, so their bodies do not provide the proper environment for the virus.
- Say What? They are immune to most snake venom. The Coral Snake is the exception. They take advantage of this by chowing down on snakes whenever they get the chance. A match for the Honey Badger?
- They can’t handle stress. One of their famous behaviors is playing dead when faced with a predator; however, they cannot choose how long they will remain absolutely still. Their intense fear of danger causes them to seize up and flop, where they may remain for hours.
- Not a skunk, but… When the Opossum plays dead, it also brings on a wretched smell to turn off predators.
- They have really good memories. They’re better at remembering how to get to food than cats, dogs, pigs and rats.
- Appreciate them while you can. Despite all the great qualities you just learned about, Opossums have an unusually short lifespan compared to other mammals and marsupials. In the wild, they only live to about two years old. In captivity, they may live up to four years.
What kind of sound does an Opossum make?
Watch this quick video of an Opossum Mom with a head injury at a rehab center calling for her babies:
What do you think about Opossums?
Has your opinion changed at all after learning a few new things?
Let us know in the comments below!
And while we’re on the subject of Christmas Songs, I highly recommend this fun and catchy song by the Snake Oil Willie Band, “Gift Card“. It’s rated PG and I happen to know these guys… Happy Holidays!!!
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