In this article we will provide 23 fun facts about opossums and share some valuable info on the unique animals. If you are learning about the animals and looking for some quick facts, this post is right for you.
Have you ever seen a cat-like creature with coarse fur, a thick naked tail, and a pointed snout? Yes, that’s an opossum.
Opossums are mainly found around central and South America, and have more than a hundred species. A lot of misconceptions surround this bizarre looking animal.
Some find them scary and dirty, while others find them cute. Let’s find out some crazy, weird, and fun facts about opossums.
23 Fun Facts About Opossums for Parents, Teachers and Students
1. Opossums have a thumb and a prehensile tail, unlike anything you see in the forest.
2. Opossums and possums are sometimes confused as the same animal, but that is not true. Possums are Australian mammals that are entirely different from opossums. The only similarity between both types is their medium size, and the fact that they are omnivorous.
3. Opossums are the only marsupials found in the north of Mexico. Marsupials are mammals who carry their newborns in pouches. Marsupials are a very rare find, and opossums in the United States and Canada are the only representatives of this rare species.
4. Babies of possums are called joeys. They are underdeveloped and very tiny at their birth which is why they are carried and nursed in their first month in their mothers’ pouches.
5. One of the most interesting facts about opossums is that they play dead in the presence of predators. Whenever these creatures fear danger, they lay still on the ground staring at a single direction sticking their tongue out for hours. It is an awesome defense mechanism, but opossums don’t do it on purpose. The tendency to play dead for a certain period springs up automatically by stress. Young opossums can stay in this position for up to six hours.
6. While playing dead, opossums emit a very foul odor that is secreted from their anus. This is also one of the reasons predators don’t go near these pretending corpses.
7. Opossums are very intelligent when it comes to finding food and remembering where it is. Opossums have proved to be smarter than cats and rats when it comes to navigating their way through a maze.
8. Like humans, opossums have opposable thumbs, and their big toes are called the hallux. The unique formation of their toes makes them look like a human hand and thumb.
9. The hallux helps opossums with better climbing and grasping than other mammals.
10. Opossums’ tails are another interesting part of their body. Their tails are as long as their bodies and they can be used as a hand to wrap around things or even grasp and carry stuff. For a brief period, the tail also allows them to hang.
11. Opossums are omnivorous animals. Their regular diet mainly consists of snakes, insects, snails, rodents, slugs, frogs, birds, eggs, fruits, plants, and grains. They can adjust their diet based on location and season.
12. In contrast to people’s opinions about opossums being dirty and unkempt, opossums are actually very prompt about grooming themselves. When they are not searching for food or resting, they are grooming themselves. Opossums, like cats, clean themselves by licking their paws and wiping their face. They clean the rest of the body with their claws to comb the fur. Female opossums are very careful about keeping their pouches clean, especially when they are carrying infants.
13. Because of their untidy appearance, opossums are mistaken to be carriers of disease, but this is not the case. Opossums have a naturally very low body temperature and are much less likely to carry rabies. But opossums can still carry diseases like salmonella and fleas.
14. Opossums have a very strong immune system, due to which they can tolerate the poison when stung by bees and scorpions. Moreover, opossums are partially or entirely immune to the venom of rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and the like.
15. Opossums are efficient swimmers, and they prefer living in areas with reliable water access. Water is also a reliable source for them when they are trying to escape predators. Possums use their tail and limbs to push themselves through the water.
16. There is a nostril birther myth related to female opossums. According to a common myth, female opossums give birth through their nostrils. Observers have noticed that female opossums lick their pouch before giving birth and make a sneezing sound while doing so. Hence, people believe that the mother has sneezed out her babies.
17. Baby opossums are hairless and sightless at their birth and are the size of a honeybee. Immediately after their birth, these infants use their front legs to climb to the pouch.
18. Survival for a baby opossum isn’t easy. A female opossum has thirteen nipples, and not all of them function properly, and the mother can give birth to as many as 25 babies. If an infant can’t access a functioning nipple, it dies.
19. Due to their hairless ears and tails, opossums are susceptible to cold and suffer from hypothermia. Damaged ears and tails are physical evidence of harsh winters that can be seen in opossums.
20. As opossums need food periodically. They can’t hibernate even though they can sleep for a few days.
21. One of the striking physical attributes of opossums is their opaque eyes. Their pupils are so large that it often hides the irises and whites. It is believed that such large pupils help animals to see in the dark as well.
22. Their reproductive organs are also quite complicated. Females have two uteri and two vaginal tracts, and males have a forked genital.
23. Opossums can comfortably live in urban areas. In fact, it is seen that opossums living in urban areas have a 34% larger body mass than opossums living in wild areas.
Here are some of the fun and interesting facts about opossums. Hopefully, you learned many fascinating things about this bizarre animal. If you did, then make sure to let us know in the comments.