Opossum - Wildlife


Appearance

Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) are 2 to 3.5 feet long (nose to tail), approximately the size of a housecat, and weigh 4 to 14 lbs. Body color ranges from whitish-gray or dark gray with a long and pointed face, round hairless ears, and a distinct long hairless tail.

Behavior

Opossums pose little threat to humans, their property or pets. Opossums are naturally shy and solitary animals. Opossums are nocturnal.

Opossums breed February through June. Gestation is approximately 2 weeks. Opossums are the only marsupial in North America and mothers carry their babies in a pouch for 7 to 8 weeks. Young opossums ride on their mother’s back for 2 to 3 weeks and wean at 3 to 4 months.

Opossums take shelter in abandoned burrows, tree hollows, brush piles, and rock crevices. Opossums sometimes take shelter in attics and garages with openings for easy entrance.

Diet

Opossums are omnivorous. A natural diet includes berries, plants, grains and nuts, insects, birds, small mammals, and carrion. A modified diet can include pet food, garbage, and compost piles.

Habitat

Opossums inhabit open meadows and grasslands, wooded areas near streams or ponds, suburban and urban areas of Fairfax County.


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