Virginia Opossum

The Virginia Opossum

Name: Virginia Opossum
Size: 1.8 – 6.3 kg
Color: Grizzled grey with a white head and throat


The Virginia opossum, a marsupial belonging to the order Didelphimorphia native to the Americas, represents the largest group of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, encompassing over 110 species across 19 genera. Originating in South America, opossums migrated to North America during the Great American Interchange. Their adaptable biology, varied diet, and reproductive strategies contribute to their resilience in diverse environments.

Species Diversity

Opossums, often referred to as possums in North America, comprise several dozen species. The most prominent is the Virginia opossum, the sole marsupial found in the United States and Canada.

Virginia Opossum


Female opossums give birth to tiny, helpless young, as small as honeybees. These offspring immediately seek refuge in their mother’s pouch for further development. As they grow, they intermittently venture out, sometimes riding on their mother’s back during foraging expeditions. While a litter may consist of up to 20 young, survival rates are typically low, with less than half reaching maturity, and some not surviving beyond infancy.

Scavenging Behavior

Opossums are opportunistic scavengers known to frequent human habitats to scavenge from garbage cans, dumpsters, and other containers. Their diet includes carrion, vegetation, and occasionally small animals such as mice, birds, and insects. They are often seen near roadkill, attracted by the remains.

“Playing Possum”

Renowned for their defensive tactic of “playing possum,” opossums feign death when threatened by predators like dogs, foxes, or bobcats. They lie still with eyes closed, tongue extended, and body limp, which can deter predators and provide an opportunity for escape.

Arboreal Skills

Highly adept climbers, opossums spend significant time in trees aided by sharp claws and a long, prehensile tail that functions like an additional limb. They nest in tree cavities or repurpose dens left by other animals.

Cultural and Ecological Impact

Opossums are abundant and, in certain areas, hunted for food, particularly in the southern United States. To safely manage wildlife encounters ethically and effectively, contact Get Em Out Wildlife Control for expert help and management solutions.

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