The animals commonly called Opossum that live throughout the Americans these animals belong to the Didelphidae family and although they share a common name with the opossums found in Australia and the surrounding Indo Pacific Islands.
There are around 100 different species of opossums and only one is native to North America Virginia. The range of all opossum species reaches as far north as Canada and as far south as Argentina. Northern living opossums are eliminated by just how far north. They can survive due to cold harsh winters though they have expanded their range northward with the assistance of humans.
Diet of Opossums
Opossums are opportunistic eaters and they will regularly consume waste thrown out by humans as well as pet food left outside when they aren’t rummaging through our trash. They eat a varied diet that is largely omnivorous containing fruits, insects eggs, and even snakes. Yes, some species of opossum are actually immune to viper venom so the opossums will attack and eat the venomous snakes vicious.
They only pretend to be vicious look how absolutely adorable they can be it’s possible that people have such a bad association with opossums because they sort of look like giant rats but rats are adorable and that’s totally 100% factual and not at all an opinion of the show hosts.
The name opossum is believed to come from the Algonquin word meaning white beast which leads me to believe that we chose the wrong name for Chester.
The name white beast makes sense for some species such as the Virginia opossum to which the name was described.
Opossums come in a variety of colors the smallest opossums are short-tailed possums who can be shorter than five inches in length and weigh less than three.
The largest possums are referred to as the common opossums. They can reach sizes equivalent to or even slightly larger than a domestic cat with weights over ten pounds and lengths over 20 inches.
Even the largest species are hunted by predators though and these include maned wolves, foxes, owls, hawks, and even feral cats and dogs.
Wild living possums on average won’t live past 3 years of age but captive kept individuals can live longer reaching almost 10 possums aren’t really about romance for the most part.
They don’t have any kind of ritual before mating and they will part ways afterward leaving the mother possum to raise the kids on her own but she’s a strong independent woman sometimes equipped with upwards of 20 or more milk filled breasts to feed her hungry kids.
Since opossums are marsupials the infants are born underdeveloped and will spend their first weeks of life drinking. Their mother’s milk and developing outside the mother’s womb not all. Opossums have a pouch with smaller species having more of a fold in their skin than an actual pouch as the babies grow. They will continue to stay with their mothers sometimes riding on her back while she hunts for food after a few more weeks.
Once they’re old enough to fend for themselves they’ll set off on their own not all. Opossums will make it to this stage it’s not uncommon for momma possums to have more babies than they have breasts and thus they’re unable to feed all of the offspring. The manner in which they are born leaves them vulnerable in their early stages of life and not all of them will survive but those that do will go on to live in a plethora of habitats including forests, mountains, grasslands, and even trees.
Most people have seen cartoons at opossums hanging upside down from their tail while this is a bit of a stretch. They do use their tails to help with balance and as a safety rope while climbing trees there’s even a species that lives in water appropriately named the water opossum.
Water opossums are the only living marsupials in which both males and females have a pouch though they use their pouches for different reasons. Opossums have been around for a long time like since the dinosaurs were around the kind of long and for the most part, they’re doing all right. Recently the red-bellied Grassle mouse possum was classified as extinct but most other species are listed as least concern in the wild.