Virginia Opossum

Scientific Name: Didelphis virginiana

Habitat: Virginia opossums are found in many different habitats, from cities and towns to rural areas in North America. However, across their range they appear to be most numerous in wooded areas adjacent to water bodies such as creeks, rivers, and lakes.

Diet: Opossums have an omnivorous diet which primarily includes fruit, insects, eggs, and small vertebrates. Like raccoons, opossums can be found in urban environments, where they eat pet food, rotten fruit, and human garbage.

Size: 0.5 to 1 foot high / 1.2 to 3 feet long

Weight: 4 to 15 pounds

Lifespan: 1 to 2 years in the wild. Up to 4 years in human care. 

Conservation Status:

LEAST CONCERN

Our Virginia Opossum:

Posy (Female) – Born May 21, 2020

Did You Know?!

  • The Virginia opossum is North America’s only marsupial. A marsupial is an animal with a pouch, like a kangaroo or a koala.
  • Virginia opossums “play dead” when they feel threatened by curling up on the ground with their mouth open and tongue hanging out. Their breathing slows and stays that way for a few minutes up to several hours.
  • Virginia opossums have 50 teeth, the most of any land mammal.
  • The Virginia opossum’s tail is prehensile. It is used to grasp things and aid in climbing. Young ones will sometimes hang from their tail but a full grown adult can not.
  • Virginia opossum feet have opposable thumbs for grasping – even on their back feet. Their thumbs lack claws and are known as halluxes.
  • Virginia opossums rarely transmit diseases to humans and are surprisingly resistant to rabies. This is mainly because they have lower body temperatures than most placental mammals.
  • Virginia opossums limit the spread of Lyme disease because they feed on most disease carrying ticks.