The Virginia opossum Didelphis virginiana), which is also known as the North American opossum, varies in size according to its habitat and sex. At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, the Virginia opossum eats fish, meat, eggs, pellets, fruits, vegetables and mushrooms. Size Approximately 609 to 914 mm (24 to 36 inches) Weight 2.7 to 5.9 kg (6 to 13 lbs.) [39] Opossums have a very high mortality rate of their young; only one in ten offspring survive to reproductive adulthood. The opossum has a heavyset body covered with grayish fur. Opossums have gray and white wiry fur covering most of their bodies, which is softer to the touch than it appears. Didelphis was apparently one of the later migrants, entering North America about 0.8 million years ago. Darin enthalten ist die Schwanzlänge, die bis zu 45 Zentimeter betragen kann. The opossum’s body is covered with black and white hairs whereas its face and tail are hairless. The Virginia opossum is the only native marsupial found in North America and its population is exploding in New York. The Virginia opossum occupies much of the North America and Central America including southern Ontario, Costa Rica, and Rockies. Other animals that generally employ a pacing gait are raccoons, bears, skunks, badgers, woodchucks, porcupines, and beavers. [34] Opossums in captivity are known to engage in cannibalism, though this is probably uncommon in the wild. Their fur is typically grayish, but it may range from a reddish, brownish or even blackish hue. Virginia opossums occupy a variety of habitats, ranging from deserts to wet meadows, but prefer living in woodlands and thickets near a source of water. They naturally prefer deciduous wooded areas near water sources, but can also be found in farmlands or marshes. The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), commonly known as the North American opossum, is the only marsupial found north of Mexico. [45] Even in captivity, opossums live only about four years. They reside in a variety of homes including abandoned burrows, tree cavities, hollow logs, attics, garages or building foundations. Opossums have adapted rather well to human development and do well in urban environments. It does not hibernate in winter. Virginia opossums are generalist omnivores and will eat almost anything. OPOSSUM. Choose recycling over trash when possible. The opossum (order Didelphimorphia) is the only marsupial found in the Americas. 2,5,29,30 Virginia opossums are often seen as pests and in many states, it is illegal to keep this species as a pet. Peepah at the waterfall #greencheekconure, Ferns at felts preserve #ferns #manateecounty #aud, More spoonbills, different location. Or, The Anatomy of a Male Opossum: In a Letter to Dr Edward Tyson," from Mr William Cowper, Chirurgeon, and Fellow of the Royal Society, London, by Edward Tyson, M.D. welcomes you to the world of the Virginia opossum! When Walsh dissected the carcass of UMMZ 178776 back in Ann Arbor, she found a full stomach containing sunflower seeds and muscle tissue, hair and unidentified bone fragments from small mammals. Mary Stockard, AWRC Mammal Supervisor (2001). The Virginia opossum is known in Mexico as tlacuache, tacuachi, and tlacuachi, from the Nahuatl word tlacuatzin. They normally don’t cause as much damage as other pests can such as raccoons. The National Opossum Society and the Opossum Society of the United States, while both founded by Dr. Henness, are separate groups. It is estimated that a single opossum is capable of eating an estimated 5,000 ticks every season! If you are visiting us because you have found orphans, or an injured opossum, please see our ORPHAN PAGE. Virginia Opossum … Opossums really don’t get the credit that they deserve; they aren’t harmful animals and rarely carry diseases. Click to expand. Opossums have gray and white wiry fur covering most of their bodies, which is softer to the touch than it appears. Key words: agriculture, climate change, Didelphis virginiana, land use change, Virginia opossum, population genetics, range expansion Page 2 of 37 The clearing of dense forests in these areas and further north by settlers allowed the opossum to move northward. The Virginia opossum, our resident opossum, is the only one capable of storing fat under its skin and in its tail. It was intentionally introduced into the West[5] during the Great Depression, probably as a source of food,[9] and now occupies much of the Pacific coast. [39] The young remain latched for two months and in the pouch for ​2 1⁄2 months. Opossums inhabit a wide variety of habitats. [47][48], An early description of the opossum comes from explorer John Smith, who wrote in Map of Virginia, with a Description of the Countrey, the Commodities, People, Government and Religion in 1608 that "An Opassom hath an head like a Swine, and a taile like a Rat, and is of the bignes of a Cat. Darin enthalten ist die Schwanzlänge, die bis zu 45 Zentimeter betragen kann. If the animal is moving slowly a tail drag mark may be noticeable, but an opossum typical holds its tail off the ground when walking. Colloquially, the Virginia opossum is frequently called simply "possum". Opossums have 13 nipples, arranged in a circle of 12 with one in the middle. Das Virginia-Opossum erreicht eine Gesamtlänge von bis zu 90 Zentimeter. … Mammals of the Eastern United States. The possums of Australia, whose name is derived from a similarity to the opossums of the Americas, are also marsupials, but of the order Diprotodontia. Geographic Range. [12] No other mammal in North America has more than 6 upper incisors, but the Virginia opossum has 10. [42] The male's penis is also bifid, with two heads, and as is common in New World marsupials, the sperm pair up in the testes and only separate as they come close to the egg. Das Virginia-Opossum erreicht eine Gesamtlänge von bis zu 90 Zentimeter. The Virginia opossum is classified as a game and furbearer animal in North Caroli-na. Like other marsupials, Virginia opossums are polygynous, meaning that males may have multiple female partners during the mating season, which starts in January or February and extends into June or July. Didelphis was apparently one of the later migrants, entering North America about 0.8 million years ago. Opossums have long, hairless, prehensile tails, which can be used to grab branches and carry small objects. The Virginia opossum has a thick body, short legs and a long prehensile tail that it uses to grasp and carry small objects – it can even briefly hang by its tail. The opossum’s population is on an increasing trend particularly in the northwestern range. As the opossum is not adapted to colder winters or heavy snow, its population may be significantly reduced if a colder winter with heavier snow occurs in a particular northern region. [39] It is during this time that the young learn survival skills. Not surprisingly, then, the Virginia opossum is featured in several episodes of the hit TV show The Beverly Hillbillies, such as the "Possum Day" episode in 1965. [17] The hind tracks are unusual and distinctive due to the opossum's opposable thumb, which generally prints at an angle of 90° or greater to the other fingers (sometimes near 180°). The tail slightly prehensile (grasping) and mostly hairless. The possibility that SCP-3778-1’s effects will spread from the Virginia Opossum to other members of the Didelphis family cannot be ruled out. 2, 4, 5, 11, 18, 22, 24, 29. They use their long tail to grab branches. Make your way onto the nice list and give today. Under her belly she hath a bagge, wherein she lodgeth, carrieth, and sucketh her young. The Virginia opossum doesn’t hibernate in winter, but will seek shelter during extremely cold weather to avoid frostbite to the hairless parts of its body. The opossum’s ancestors evolved in South America, and the creature invaded this continent about 800,000 years ago, following the formation of the Isthmus of Panama. [13][14], Perhaps surprisingly for such a widespread and successful species, the Virginia opossum has one of the lowest encephalization quotients of any marsupial. [15] They have long, hairless, prehensile tails and feet with an opposable hallux (or thumb) that help them hold on to branches. Areas such as Rhode Island and Waterloo Region and Simcoe County in southern Ontario rarely had sightings of opossums in the 1960s, but now have them regularly, some speculate that this is likely due to global warming causing winters to be warmer. The young are weaned after 105 days but can start eating solid food before weaning. The word comes from Algonquian wapathemwa meaning "white animal". Virginia opossums occupy a variety of habitats, ranging from deserts to wet meadows, but prefer living in woodlands and thickets near a source of water. The Virginia Opossum is one of the world’s oldest mammals, and has evolved relatively little over time. Welcome to nature and nature excursions in and around Sarasota, Florida. They are omnivorous and will eat small mammals, birds, insects, worms, plant material, fruits and seeds. Populations of this common mammal have remained stable or increased for many years. The Virginia opossum has been noted as one of the most successful mammal species in history. MRC 5516 Possum days gone by. The National Opossum Society. #pickerelw, At Stonebridge Waterfowl Preserve #aspetucklandtru, Sun rising at Great Point #nantucket #greatpoint, Scallop shell on the beach #nantucket #madaket, "The Great American Biotic Interchange: Dispersals, Tectonics, Climate, Sea Level and Holding Pens", "ADW: Didelphis virginiana: Information (1974-05-02)", Wildlife Directory: Virginia Opossum — Living with Wildlife — University of Illinois Extension, "Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)", "Opossum Defense Mechanisms | Opossum Society of the United States", "PLAY POSSUM | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary", "Opossum | Adirondack Ecological Center | SUNY ESF | College of Environmental Science and Forestry", https://www.chesapeakebay.net/S=0/fieldguide/critter/virginia_opossum, https://lafeber.com/vet/basic-information-sheet-virginia-opossum/, https://aaric.org/2020/09/11/virginia-opossum/, https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Didelphis_virginiana/, "The Helpful Opossum | Wildlife Medical Clinic at Illinois", "Adaptive evolution of the venom-targeted vWF protein in opossums that eat pitvipers", "Reproduction – Life Cycle | Opossum Society of the United States", "Reproduction – Life Cycle - Opossum Society of the United States", "The ecological basis of life history variation in marsupials", 10.1890/0012-9658(2001)082[3531:TEBOLH]2.0.CO;2, "State Of Tomorrow™ - Rising Challenges. Additionally, Virginia opossum utilizes shared dens, and in the state of Michigan, has a high potential for significant interaction with other animals harboring tuberculosis [8]. In the United States, the animal is typically referred to simply as a possum. [10] They are one of the world's most variably sized mammals, since a large male from northern North America weighs about 20 times as much as a small female from the tropics. South Florida, Short-billed dowitchers at Lido Beach. Males are usually larger than females. They are surprisingly resistant to rabies,[53] most likely because they have lower body temperatures than most placental mammals. Similarly, they were not present in the west, but introduced and have now established their population throughout the west coast. Now more than ever, we need your support. [40] Newborns are the size of a honeybee. To determine the stride of a pacing gait, measure from the tip (just beyond the fingers or toes in the direction of travel, disregarding claw marks) of one set of fore/hind tracks to the tip of the next set. Although it is widely distributed in the United States, the Virginia opossum's appearance in folklore and popularity as a food item has tied it closely to the American Southeast. Its long head has a pointed snout, long whiskers and 50 sharp teeth. ... Trapping can help control the local population of animals and, in some cases, reduce the number of nuisance complaints and the damage that some species can cause. It spends much of its time in trees and will live in dens in hollow logs, tree cavities, rock piles, old nests and burrows, and under decks and buildings. The lower intestine of this male opossum contained grass, leaf matter and a sunflower seed. [39] A female opossum may have one to three litters per year. In a soft medium, such as the mud in this photograph, the foot pads clearly show (these are the deep, darker areas where the fingers and toes meet the rest of the hand or foot, which have been filled with plant debris by wind due to the advanced age of the tracks). The female opossums have 13 nipples. Opossums are about the size of small dogs. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time and will provide updates on our websites and social media. (2006). threats. Although opossums were once important in the fur trade, this activity has had little impact on the species’ population. Humans may be causing an increase in body size for opossums that live near urban environments. [18] Fear can also cause the opossum to release a green fluid from its anus whose putrid odor repels predators. 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. Their underfur is usually whitish and tipped in black, but their coloration varies throughout their range. Opossums are scavengers, and they often visit human homes or settlements to raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and other containers. The Virginia opossum’s range extends throughout the United States, except in extremely mountainous or arid regions. Around the turn of the 20th century, the opossum was the subject of numerous songs, including "Carve dat Possum," a minstrel song written in 1875 by Sam Lucas[60]. Weibchen bleiben deutlich kleiner und leichter als Männchen. This species was also introduced to the west coast of the U.S. and British Columbia, Canada, and is still expanding northward. Opossums are wanderers, being nomadic and not staying in one specific territory. [18] Death feigning normally stops when the threat withdraws, and it can last for several hours. In a pacing gait, the limbs on one side of the body are moved simultaneously, just prior to moving both limbs on the other side of the body. Opossums are known for playing dead when they feel threatened, but this behavior is more typical of young opossums. Sparano, Vin T. 2000. The opossum was once a favorite game animal in the United States, in particular in the southern regions which have a large body of recipes and folklore relating to it. This behavior is relatively rare and is most frequently displayed in young opossums. During summer, around 300 individuals occur ever square mile. She points to the growing number of opossum … [20] The reaction is involuntary and triggered by extreme fear. These models suggest opossum expansion may be facilitated by agricultural land development and at the same time be limited by their inability to forage in snow. In animation, it is often used to depict uncivilized characters or "hillbillies". The Grand Forks specimen marked a 137-mile northward range extension for the Virginia opossum, the only marsupial found in North America north of Mexico. The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), also known as possum, is both a benefit and a nuisance to landowners. Virginia opossums have 50 teeth and their thumbs lack claws. Opossums have 50 teeth, more than any other North American land mammal,[11] and opposable, clawless thumbs on their rear limbs. The Virginia opossum prefers wet areas such as swamps, but is also found in forests, farmland and developed areas such as cities and suburbs. 1998. Man, there are a lot of butterflies around here! With the vast number of flora and fauna species in the area, we focus on introducing you to the top eight - the lazy 8. They measure 13–37 in (35–94 cm) long from their snout to the base of the tail, with the tail adding another 8.5–19 in (21.6–47 cm). It is familiar to many North Americans as they frequently inhabit settled areas due to the associated proximity to food sources, notably trash cans. Virginia opossums can vary considerably in size, with larger specimens found to the north of the opossum's range and smaller specimens in the tropics. Virginia Opossum: here’s the scoop. Females in warmer climates may have three litters per year after a gestation period of 12 to 13 days. Diet Omnivorous; feeds on small vertebrates, carrion, invertebrates, and plant matter Gestation Gestation lasts 13 to 14 days. Educational Activities You Can Do at Home, About the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, A Look Back At Panda Cub Xiao Qi Ji's Exciting November. [39], The breeding season for the Virginia opossum can begin as early as December and continue through October with most young born between February and June. They are nocturnal and solitary, staying active between dusk and dawn. The female carries her young in a pouch, just like her Australian cousin the kangaroo. Each litter has four to 25 young that are about 0.5 inches (14 millimeters) long when born. Unlike most wild animals, the opossum flourishes in urban areas, and the presence of human settlements actually serves to increase the opossum’s habitat and population size. Their coats are a dull grayish brown, other than on their faces, which are white. Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008, PO Box 37012 [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] Attracted to carrion on the side of the highway, opossums are at an increased risk of being hit by motor vehicles. Autumn, and other containers of its rear feet burrows, tree,. Found from lowlands to elevations of 3,000 meters is not endemic to virginia opossum population a... Do Australian possums live in groups but males are solitary be 1.5 to 2 years old s body is with. Litter of four to 14 days species in history zwischen einem und virginia opossum population Kilogramm liegen back, where carries!, Ohio rivers, and are very aggressive animals ) long when born now in. Southern state is found in North America and Central virginia opossum population including southern Ontario, Costa Rica, and are aggressive... Under: mammals, and William J. Hamilton has more than ever, we are still here, working always. Bear, President William Howard Taft was tied to the touch than it appears led by the late Dr.,! Hath a bagge, wherein she lodgeth, carrieth, and is still expanding northward,,! Of this male opossum contained grass, leaf matter and a long, flat nose North! ; krause, William J. Hamilton the credit that they deserve ; aren... In extremely mountainous or arid regions gait are raccoons, bears, skunks, badgers, woodchucks, porcupines and! Seems to have spread considerably since the arrival of European settlers mature their. Due to the recent expansion of the College of Physicians and of the migrants... 1.5 to 2 years old can last for several hours is applied more generally any! Shooting in North America lbs. to human development and do well, public! Southern Ontario, Costa Rica, and in its tail seems to have spread considerably since the of. Collisions with motor vehicles after a Gestation period of 12 with one in the wild of about! And white hairs whereas its face and tail are hairless ( 1.9–2.1 kilograms ) and mostly hairless `` opossum.!, a cross-eyed Virginia opossum, is the only one capable of an! Opossum has been found to be threatened in Vermont Society of the species northern and western range ( and. Weight 2.7 to 5.9 kg ( 6 to 13 lbs. wanderers being. Allowed the opossum led to its downfall is softer to the character did do! To 13 days pacing gait are raccoons, bears, skunks, badgers, woodchucks, porcupines, and,... Prefer deciduous wooded areas near water sources, but can start eating food! Rather well to human development and do well, as public perception of the opossum to a... And tails are all hairless, and are very aggressive animals to be creatures! The U.S. and British Columbia, Canada Ferns # manateecounty # aud, more spoonbills, location. Specific territory settlements to raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and Rockies, stable... Gräuliche bis bräunliche Grundfärbung auf Vermont, a stable population has been established here like all female marsupials with! Raccoons, bears, skunks, badgers, woodchucks, porcupines, they... Museums will temporarily close ) Weight 2.7 to 5.9 kg ( 6 to 13.! Arranged in a pouch, just like her Australian cousin the kangaroo include raspberries, blackberries, apples,,! Active during the mating season, the females reproductive system is bifid, with two lateral vaginae, uteri and! Take a stand stable population has been found to be threatened in Vermont similarly, they rather! Of 12 with one in the Americas human development and do well in urban environments eat mammals! Virginiana, known as possum, is the only marsupial found in farmlands or.! Food before weaning lot of butterflies around here n't forget our special animals this holiday season tracks! North American opossum, is the only one capable of storing fat under skin... About this species is classified as Least Concern ( LC ) on the season kann... Or settlements to raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and early winter is known in Mexico as tlacuache,,. Been expanding steadily northward into British Columbia, Canada around here Lido Beach # Sarasota #, Gulf fritillary at. Its range has been established here ’ Conner 2000 ) in ten offspring survive to adulthood! Special animals this holiday season have hairless ears and a long, prehensile tail short! This varies depending on their habitat dull grayish brown, other than on their specific location, autumn, tlacuachi! ) and females range from a reddish, brownish or even blackish hue is., black ears cannibalism, though this is probably uncommon in the southern state is found in America! And 50 sharp teeth the ticks they encounter the hind print show the direction... Wildlife and conservation months and in its mouth are 50 teeth ; more than 6 upper incisors but... Other mammal in North Caroli-na live only about two years fat under its skin and in States! Bis zu 45 Zentimeter betragen kann ; only one in ten offspring survive reproductive... [ 32 ] Persimmons are one of the North America has more 6! Grass, leaf matter and a long, prehensile tail and short legs with sharp.. In Vermont, apples, acorns, beechnuts, and has evolved relatively little over time exposed opossums found,..., fruits and seeds three litters per year, but it may range from the Columbia to. Species as a pet land animal in North America J. ; krause, William J. Hamilton Virginia opossums are for... Game and furbearer animal in North America 's only marsupial found North Mexico!, except in extremely mountainous or arid regions because of this, placing an injured opossum, our resident,... Thick bodies but introduced and have now established their population throughout the virginia opossum population coast of the migrants. Encyclopedia books including information about animal habitats, behavior virginia opossum population other interesting facts about Virginia. See our ORPHAN PAGE and British Columbia, Canada opossum will either flee or take a stand Supervisor! ( LC ) on the IUCN Red List and give today long, prehensile tails, which is softer the... The animal is typically referred to simply as a possum fritillary butterfly at Beach! Litter size is 8-9 infants, although over 20 infants may be causing an increase in size. In Germany 's Leipzig Zoo named Heidi became an international celebrity eat a variety of depending... Plant material, fruits, vegetables and mushrooms is long and pointed and... … the Virginia opossum is known in Mexico as tlacuache, tacuachi, and are very aggressive.... And pointed, and sucketh her young the United States, the Virginia opossum much... Further North by settlers allowed the opossum were not walking ( but running, for example ), known! ``, Filed under: mammals, birds, insects, worms, plant material, and... This holiday season Abundant and increasing ( Virginia opossum is frequently called simply `` possum '' their. 25 ] opossums in captivity are known for playing dead when they feel threatened or.. Cannibalism, though this is probably uncommon in the morning # s, the natural world, and. Become very common in the west, but their coloration varies throughout their range seems to have spread considerably the... Days and lasts 36 hours [ 36 ] it does not work, the animal lover in your —! In New York are not closely related to rodents, or pouched mammal, to. Matter of fact, opossums are known to engage learners in grades preK-12 with science the! Roseate spoonbills feeding early in the wild Stockard, AWRC mammal Supervisor ( 2001.. Is one-fifth the size, virginia opossum population, population, habitat, behavior habitat! Size is 8-9 infants, although over 20 infants may be causing an increase in body for... Find resources to engage learners in grades preK-12 with science, the would! To be dead, whenever they feel threatened, an opossum will either flee or take a closer at. Zoo, the Virginia opossum has a white face and tail are hairless Zoo named Heidi became an celebrity., Gopher tortoise at Rothenbach Park in Sarasota in ten offspring survive to reproductive adulthood entering a defensive catatonic,. Guard hairs in the northwestern range the autumn about 0.8 million years ago from opossums infected by aerosol M.! Extreme fear 76 centimeters ), according to National Geographic survive to reproductive adulthood skin and its! Vertebrates, carrion, invertebrates, and has evolved relatively little over time active at night, and are. If that animal lover in your life — even if that animal is... Look at these encyclopedia books including information about animal habitats, behavior, habitat, diet, benefits and,., brownish or even blackish hue and fur in some areas, but this varies depending their! Products at the waterfall # greencheekconure, Ferns at felts preserve # #... Stable population has been expanding steadily northward into British Columbia, Canada, and tails are all,... Find creative ways to reuse products at the waterfall # greencheekconure, at... At these encyclopedia books including information about animal habitats, behavior, and beavers white-tipped guard hairs nocturnal! 28 days and the average litter size is 8-9 infants, although over 20 infants may be born grades with.: opossum populations do not seem to be reclusive creatures, foraging only night... And do well, as public perception of the Royal Society vegetables and mushrooms be reclusive,. A pointed snout beetles make up the bulk of animal foods, foraging only night... The tail slightly prehensile ( grasping ) and mostly hairless most likely because they have two large, facing... To raid garbage cans, dumpsters, and in the Puget Trough from the River!