Virginia Opossum (Ric McArthur)

The Virginia Opossum is North America’s only marsupial which means that it carries its babies in a pouch like a kangaroo. Opossums are about the size of a house cat and use their tails to wrap around tree limbs and to help them balance. It is a common misconception that opossums hang from their tails, however their tails aren’t strong enough to hold them for a long period of time.

The opossum can have up to 25 babies which are the size of a honeybee when they are born, but only about 13 survive. The babies stay in their mom’s pouch for about 60 days before they move out of the pouch and spend four to six weeks on their mother’s back.

Opossums have very small brains so when they get too stressed out they become unconscious. When this happens they look dead so predators tend to avoid them. While this defense mechanism can be very beneficial against predators such as owls, hawks and foxes, it is not very beneficial when it occurs on the road. This causes many opossums to get hit by cars.

Opossums are omnivores and are nocturnal and use their keen sense of smell to eat things such as insects, small mammals, invertebrates, birds, fruit and carrion.

– V. Nolan (2014)

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