You have to click the highlighted link at the end, to see the AWESOME OPOSSUM LOVE FEST.
I’ve had a love affair with Opossums for years. I’ve had 2 pregnant mom’s have their litter in my yards. One in a tree in my enclosed front yard. One in my backyard under my deck. Plus they always seem to be around. I believe we have one now at our new house. They’ve never done any harm, and very seldom have gotten into my trash. They don’t bother our dogs. So all good. As it stands we have all sorts of pelicans, cranes, and way more birds, seals, deer, eagles and sea lions about. Just call me Leila Doolittle.
So let’s talk about Opossum vs Possums first.
Opossums and possums are different animals. Opossums live in North America, while possums live in Australia and other countries. Both animals are marsupials, but possums are more closely related to kangaroos.
So, I have only seen Opossums. Now let’s learn something about them. Because they are quite cool and awesome.
Opossums get a bad rap.
Let’s start with Rabies. In fact, rabies is extremely rare in opossums, perhaps because they have a much lower body temperature compared to other warm-blooded animals.
Strange noises in your yard? Grunting, growling, hissing, screeching: if your home is making these noises, you probably have opossums.
They are quite good for your yard and garden actually. If there is an opossum in the yard, don’t worry. … But far from being a nuisance, opossums can be beneficial for your garden, eating snails, slugs, insects and sometimes even small rodents. They’ll even clean up spilled garbage and fruit that has fallen off trees.
Opossums generally eat fruit, grains and insects, but will also eat out of compost piles, garbage cans and pet food dishes if they can get access. They have been known to eat fish, birds and mammals as well.
As omnivores, opossums will police your garden, feeding on insect pests, garden slugs, rodents, toads, snakes and even dead animals that might otherwise rot in place.
Opossums can not only be housebroken, but they can be taught to come when they are called and to even sit on your shoulder as you walk around. With a little patience and a calm demeanor, you should be able to tame a pet opossum.
A common question is will they attack my dog? Problem: Will an opossum attack my pets? Solution: In general, opossums are docile, non-aggressive animals and will not attack your pets. They prefer to avoid confrontations. If escape is not possible then the threatened opossum may “play ‘possum”, show its teeth, or bite in self-defense, as any animal would.
For the most part, if your dog kills a possum, it isn’t a cause for concern. The chances of possums carrying a disease like rabies are so minimal that when combined with up to date vaccinations, the chance of your dog contracting that disease – or any other one for that matter – are next to impossible.
In theory, a possum can kill a house cat. But it is extremely rare. In fact, cats, both stray cats and even pet cats, kill a far larger number of opossums, especially the young opossums, which aren’t much different in size or appearance than a rat! Of course cats kill opossums.
Virginia opossums are about the size of housecats, and are mostly grey, with a white face. They have a pointed nose, short legs, and a long rat-like tail.
These animals walk in a curiously slow, hobbling manner. However, they’re able climbers. They often use their flexible tails for balance, or to hold nesting material when climbing, and young use their tails to cling to their mothers’ backs.
Virginia opossums are mostly active at night. Their eyes are well-adapted to darkness. During the day, they den up in cavities, such as hollow trees, brush piles, or spaces under structures built by people.
In the warmer months, opossums wander widely in search of food. They rarely spend two consecutive days in the same spot. In the fall and winter, they occupy a more permanent nest lined with leaves. They’re not true hibernators; except for brief periods during severe weather, they’re active throughout the winter.
When confronted by a predator the possum’s first line of defense is to hiss, growl, and show its teeth. If the predator is not deterred and the opossum is attacked, it plays dead. While in this catatonic state, the opossum falls on its side and becomes completely limp, with its tongue hanging out of its mouth. It often defecates and may also emit a greenish, foul-smelling substance from its anal glands. During this state—which can last up to six hours—the opossum’s breathing and heart rate decrease.
Virginia opossums mate from mid-winter to mid-summer, and often have multiple litters in a year. Females give birth only about two weeks after mating. The newborns are grossly underdeveloped—naked, blind, and almost transparent, they’re only about half an inch long and weigh 1/200th of an ounce, slightly smaller than a honeybee.
They immediately climb into the female’s pouch and attach themselves to one of 13 teats arranged in a horseshoe configuration. If there are more than 13 babies, only those babies able to grasp a teat will survive. Once the nipple is in the baby’s mouth, it swells, making it virtually irremovable. This vital connection remains unbroken for about two months.
At about two months, their eyes open and they begin to spend time out of the pouch. The young are fully independent at about three months.
Virginia opossums are omnivores. This means that they will eat a variety of foods, including meat and plants. Insects and carrion (dead or decaying animals) are important parts of their diet. They will also eat amphibians, reptiles, earthworms, birds, and small mammals, as well as seeds and fruit.
Situations & Solutions
Opossums and people rarely come into conflict. If an opossum dens in an undesirable location, usually the best solution is patience; the animal will probably move on after a few days.
So now you know all about our Opossums. Remember they are friend and not foe. Mother Nature’s Gardener. Opossum Love.