The opossum is America’s only wild marsupial.
Like the koala, opossums carry their young in a pouch.
The babies are born prematurely and are brought to term inside the pouch where the mother nurtures them until they are weaned.
Opossums have a prehensile tail which can be used like a hand for grasping. Another unique feature is that they have four fingers and an opposable thumb on their hind feet. This also aids them in picking up and hanging onto thin branches.
Opossums are nocturnal. They eat almost anything including carrion, insects, frogs, mice and snakes. They are immune to snake venom.
Opossums give birth to 16-20 babies 12-13 days after mating. The infants are blind and only the size of a bee. From the birthplace under the tail, they must make their way across the mother’s belly and into the pouch. Only the ones that can attach themselves to a nipple will survive. They grow quickly and at 75-85 days they are weaned and ready to leave the pouch. The young opossums will remain with the mother for 3-4 months. Often the babies are seen riding the mothers back.
When confronted with danger, they have the unique ability to“ play opossum” and pretend to be dead. They lay completely still until the danger has passed. They are even capable of creating a terrible odor that resembles death. Most predators do not eat carrion so they move on. Later the opossum regains consciousness and is happy to see another day.
Opossum also eat up to 95% of the ticks they come in contact with and therefore are a good animal to have around your yard!