What to feed baby possums nz

Caring for possums | NT.GOV.AU

These guidelines are for the Top End subspecies of brushtail possum, as this is the species most likely to come into care. Rock ringtail possums should only be cared for by experienced carers.

This information should be used as a guide only. You will need specific information to properly care for injured or orphaned wildlife.

Contact a veterinarian, wildlife caring organisation or wildlife ranger in your local area for advice.

Read more about rescuing and releasing animals in the Northern Territory (NT).

You need a permit to care for injured or rescued wildlife.

There are two species of possum in the NT, the rock ringtail possum (Petropseudes dahli) and the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula).

Both species are nocturnal marsupial mammals.

Rock ringtail possum

The rock ringtail is found across the Top End. It lives in tight-knit family groups, where parents and the young from previous breeding care for the new young.

These possums are found in rocky terrain with trees and foliage nearby. These animals rarely come into care. When they do, they should only be looked after by experienced carers.

Common brushtail possum

There are two subspecies of the common brushtail possum in the NT. The subspecies Trichosurus vulpecula vulpecula lives in isolated populations in the southern part of the Territory and is endangered in the NT.

If you encounter this species, report it to Parks and Wildlife immediately.

The Top End subspecies Trichosurus vulpecula arnhemensis lives in the monsoon tropics of the NT and in the Kimberley in Western Australia. It is locally common, although it is declining in its native habitats.

Possums should be kept in a quiet, secure location away from family pets and excessive noise. This includes general household noise, traffic, domestic animals and construction.

Orphaned possums

Orphaned possums should be kept in an artificial pouch that rests against a heat pad set at 30 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius.

As the possum develops fur, it should be placed in a small enclosure to allow climbing.

When the possum is spending a lot of time outside the pouch, provide a nest box or tree hollow to rest in.

As the possum grows, increase the size of the cage to encourage natural behaviour.

Adult possums

Adult possums can be housed in an enclosure that is 3.5m long by 3.5m wide by 3.5m high.

The space should be arranged to make sure the possum doesn’t feel threatened when you enter to feed or clean.

The enclosure should do all of the following:

  • be as natural as possible, with plenty of the elements possums would encounter in the wild
  • have tree trunks with a circumference larger than the possum’s climbing grip
  • have a mixture of stable and flexible climbing structures, such as wobbly branches and rope
  • have a natural floor with leaf litter and grasses
  • have places to put native food, such as branches or flowering and fruiting flora
  • have multiple nesting areas, including horizontal and vertical nest logs - the open end of the log should be higher than the closed end to encourage upward movement when the animal is climbing out
  • house adult possums separately, unless it’s a mother with at-foot young
  • have shelter to protect from Wet Season weather, heavy sun, or wind and temperature extremes
  • have secluded areas for sleeping and feeding
  • be secure from domestic pets and predators
  • include items to stimulate the possums
  • be cleaned daily and disinfected between inhabitants.

In the wild, common brushtail possums are generalist feeders. They will eat leaves, fruits, flowers, fungi, bark and sometimes small lizards, birds and eggs.

Possums have a low metabolic rate and can easily become overweight. Their diet should be mostly native plants.

Feeding possum joeys

Orphaned possum joeys need to be fed a special milk formula according to their growth stage.

Possum joeys should never be fed regular cow’s milk as lactose will cause diarrhoea, slow their growth and may cause death.

There are three brands of formula on the market, which are Wombaroo Possum Milk, Biolac M100 and Di-Vetelact. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for feeding regimes and rates.

Specialised formulas can be purchased from vet clinics, pet shops or directly from the manufacturers.

Feeding adult possums

Possums eat or live in any of the following plant species:

  • woollybutt
  • stringybark
  • ironwood
  • green plum
  • Acacia difficilis
  • cocky apple
  • Persoonia falcate
  • Acacia aulrcocarpa
  • Xanthostemo paradoxus
  • red bush apple
  • Gardenia megasperma
  • various creeper species.

Their food can be supplemented with small amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Do not feed possums almonds, cheese, onions, dairy products, green potatoes or junk food.

Put food in containers in high, sheltered areas. Spread the food throughout the enclosure to promote natural foraging.

Possums need fresh water daily. Their water containers need to be heavy and wide-based so they can't tip them over.

Possums must be handled with care as they may scratch and bite.

Possums can be caught using a catch net or a large blanket. Fold a blanket around the possum's body to provide even pressure on the animal and to protect the handler.

When handling a possum, hold the tail and the scruff of the neck or hold the head and neck between the index and middle fingers.

Limit handling to the shortest time possible.

Possums can be transported in a hessian or calico bag. Do not use lighter materials as possums can tear them easily.

Always turn the bag inside out so the animal doesn't get tangled or catch its claws on seams.

Possums can also be transported in a secure, well-ventilated pet pack or box.

Be careful that the animal doesn't overheat during transport.

Enrichment is the set of things you can do to help an animal regain natural behaviour and be ready for release to the wild.

You can use all of the following enrichment strategies to prepare a possum to be released:

  • provide a number of nesting logs
  • provide climbing logs that have a larger circumference than the possum's grip
  • provide varied, flexible horizontal branches
  • string up flexible rope for climbing
  • spread food through the enclosure to encourage foraging
  • grow native grasses with roots in the enclosure
  • grow a variety of bush tucker such as native trees and shrubs
  • feed them apple halves spiked with hard nuts and seeds
  • put rotting logs on the ground to encourage them to forage for insects
  • occasionally place logs with the scent of other animals in the enclosure.

How to tell a possum is ready to release

A possum is ready to release when it is showing the following behaviours:

  • coping with changes
  • moving to different nesting sites
  • foraging food at varying heights
  • active at night
  • recognises predators
  • looking for and eating a range of foods
  • showing good climbing skills
  • uses its tail when moving and sourcing food
  • showing less abnormal behaviour, such as pacing or self-mutilation, and more natural behaviour
  • not getting bacterial dermatitis as much
  • showing improved physical fitness
  • marking objects with its scent
  • is self-reliant and does not seek human interaction.

Last updated: 14 December 2018

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What Do Possums Eat? Can You Feed Baby Possums?


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If you find a baby possum abandoned on the side of the road somewhere, you probably shouldn’t pick them up before calling animal control. But what happens if you have no choice but to take them home to nurse them back to health? You might find yourself with an adorable conundrum on your hands. You might even find yourself wondering a few things about possum biology and behavior. For instance: can you feed baby possums? Should you feed them? And either way, what do possums eat? 

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What kind of possum are we talking about?

If you’re from Australia, a possum is a very different animal from the one Americans keep referring to as possums. What we are talking about is the opossum, America's only marsupial, and one that possesses very few similarities to its Aussie cousin. There are 65 different species of opossum in North America, according to the Opossum Society. The most common of these many marsupials is the Virginia opossum, which is the one we shall focus on today. 

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What do possums eat?

Frankly, when it comes to the opossum, the question “what do they eat?” doesn’t really seem appropriate. It might be more appropriate to ask “what don’t they eat?” Opossums have always had a bit of a bad reputation among suburban residents for being scavengers — which, of course, they are. But that doesn’t mean we should hold it against them. Especially because their versatile diets actually help us get rid of carrion (decaying dead animal bodies).

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According to pest control company Terminix, opossums eat everything from dead animals to insects, rodents, birds, frogs, plants, fruit, and grain. They don’t just feed on the flesh of carrion or roadkill either. Possum diets require a high degree of calcium, which they can get from eating the skeletal remains of rodents and other dead creatures. Opossums will also eat cat food, dog food, and table scraps from our garbage cans. Unfortunately, it is this “taste for trash” that makes them more of a pest than a helper in the eyes of many. 

How do possums eat so many different things?

Opossums are scavengers by evolution and opportunity. They are nocturnal but possess poor eyesight, which doesn’t really help when it comes to trying to find food. Luckily, they make up for this with great hearing and a very keen sense of smell. This has made them fairly successful opportunists, especially when they find themselves living in and around suburban and rural communities. 

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These remarkable marsupials possess other positive traits as well — though we will admit that most of these also have to do with them finding food. Opossums don’t just find food well, they can also remember where it is located for the next time. According to Landscape Architecture Magazine, possums scored higher than rats, rabbits, cats, and dogs in laboratory tests meant to recall where food was placed. That’s why it’s so hard to get rid of possums on your own — they remember where you keep the goods!

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What do baby possums eat?

Adults may be great at scavenging, but baby opossums are not nearly as well-equipped. Like all marsupials, opossum mommies lack a placenta, so their young must grow and be kept in a pouch. Newborn opossums are about the size of a honey bee and will stay in their mother’s pouch for around 80 days before they are mature enough to begin scavenging on their own. 

What to feed baby possums?

Once they are big enough to leave the pouch, baby possums can eat just about everything. You can feed them dog and cat food in moderation. You could also feed them insects like cockroaches, worms, slugs, and snails (one of their favorite foods). This is only pertinent if the baby is old enough, of course, and with an orphaned opossum, that isn’t always known. 

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According to the blog WildHeart, baby possums do not thrive on milk. For one, marsupial milk is very different from cow’s milk or formula. On top of that, baby possums don’t suckle like other animals, so attempting to bottle feed could cause them to aspirate and die. The point we’re trying to make here is that you, reader, are likely ill-equipped to feed or care for a baby possum on your own. 

Should I feed a baby possum?

No, you really, really shouldn’t — not without some guidance, anyway, If you find a baby possum, either alone or attached to their deceased mother, you should contact your local animal control, veterinarian, or animal rescue right away. If the baby possum is alone and walking in the wilderness and you can’t help yourself, get a box with towels or old shirts, along with a wrapped heating pad or water bottle, and get them to an animal expert as quickly as possible. That is the best way to help them. 


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    description of the animal, where it lives, what it eats

    Opossums are one of the oldest animals that live on our Planet, while they have practically not changed in appearance for millions of years. Thanks to the efforts of animators, a fascinating cartoon called "Ice Age" was released on the screens. The heroes of this cartoon are two interesting opossums, who are waiting for various adventures. This article tells about the life of this fluffy, and sometimes funny animal, as well as its origin as a species. nineOl000

  • 2 Population and species status

Possum: description

The possum family belongs to the class of marsupial mammals that live mainly in the American continent. It is believed that opossums represent the oldest inhabitants of our planet, which have been preserved in their original form since the Cretaceous period. At least that's what the experts think. nine0003

As for the American continent, scientists suggest based on their research that opossums first appeared in South America. After some time, the so-called "bridge" appeared, which connected South and North America. Many species of animals living in North America appeared in South America, which led to the death of many representatives of the class of marsupials. The only good news is that some representatives of the marsupials managed to survive, adapting to the new realities of their habitat. nine0003

Not only did the opossums manage to adapt to new living conditions, they also spread to the territory of North America, up to the territory of Canada. There is one more fact that must be taken into account in the case of the history of the origin of the species: as a result of excavations, the remains of similar animals were found that once lived in Europe.

Apart from the fact that opossums appeared on our planet millions of years ago, the first mention of these animals appeared in the writings of the priest and historian Pedro Ciessa de Leon somewhere in 1553. The works were called "Chronicle of Peru". In these writings, the Spaniard mentioned a very interesting, unknown to him mammal, which was small in size, small limbs, a long tail like a fox, and also a brownish coat color. nine0003

Rat opossums are the closest relatives of opossums and they live in America. There are several varieties of possums that differ from each other, both in appearance and habitats.

Possum - interesting facts

Watch this video on YouTube

So, in the natural environment lives: The habitual habitats of this animal are associated with forest plantations growing in the coastal zone of various reservoirs. The diet includes cereals, mushrooms, as well as various insects and other small animals. nine0003

Virginian opossum (Didelphis virginiana)

It is also remarkable for its impressive size (comparatively) and weighing about 6 kilograms. It prefers to live within forest areas with high humidity, although it is found on the prairies. It feeds on small living creatures in the form of small rodents, small birds, chicks and eggs, as well as rabbit offspring.

Water opossum (Chironectes minimus)

Prefers to live near water bodies, eating fish and other inhabitants of water bodies, hunting them afloat. Eats fruit whenever possible. Compared to other members of the family, it has weak reproductive properties. nine0003

Mouse opossum (Thylamys elegans)

It is characterized by small size, as it grows only up to 15 centimeters in length. It prefers to live in mountains and is found at altitudes up to 2,500 meters above sea level. The diet includes various insects, all kinds of fruits, as well as bird eggs.

Gray tailed opossum (Caluromys philander)

This is a small animal weighing 100 grams or slightly more with a body length of no more than 16 centimeters. The habitat is associated with flat areas, densely overgrown with low grass. It is also found near human habitation. nine0003

Patagonian possum (Patagonian
Opossum )

This is a tiny animal, weighing up to 50 grams. It feeds on various types of insects.

In addition to the listed species, there are other varieties of opossums.

Appearance and features

Despite the fact that there are many varieties of possums in nature, they all have characteristic external signs and features, so it makes sense to describe the common opossum. These are animals of small size, with a body length of about 0.6 meters, while females are 10 centimeters smaller. If we compare the sizes, then the opossum can be compared with an ordinary cat, while the muzzle of the opossum is more elongated and pointed. nine0003

The possum's tail is distinguished by the fact that it is not covered with hair, while it is powerful and thicker at the base. It should be noted that the tail is quite functional and helps the animal to move in the crowns of trees. In addition, the animal on the tail can hang on a branch and even sleep in limbo. The coat, although short, is thick and dense.

The main color of the animals depends on the species, as well as on the habitat, so there are animals:

  • Dark grey.
  • Brownish grey.
  • Brown.
  • Light grey.
  • Black.
  • Beige.

The common opossum has a gray coat with white hairs. The head area is lighter. The eyes, in the form of black beads, stand out noticeably against a light background. The ears are small and rounded. Each paw of the animal is armed with five fingers with sharp claws. The jaws of this animal are quite primitive. There are 50 teeth in the mouth of this animal, 4 of which are fangs. The structure and arrangement of the teeth indicates the ancient origin of the species. nine0003

The peculiarity of the animal is the presence of a "bag" in which the offspring is located after birth. The offspring are born prematurely, and in the bag the cubs grow up and get stronger. The pouch is nothing more than a leathery fold that opens towards the tail. It should be noted that not all representatives of this family have a similar "bag", therefore, the offspring born into the world cling to the wool in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe mother's chest, where they stay until the period of their independence. nine0003

Where the opossum lives

Today, these animals are found exclusively within the New World, although in the past their habitat extended even to the territory of the European continent, as evidenced by the remains of animals found in Europe as a result of archaeological research. Possums live within South and North America, although recently the habitat of these animals has been expanding through the northern territories, reaching the southeastern borders of Canada, as well as the Lesser Antilles. nine0003

Opossums are found within various biotopes: animals are found in forests, in steppe zones, as well as in semi-desert conditions. They are found not only in flat areas, but also in mountainous areas, rising to a height of up to 4 thousand meters above sea level. There are several varieties of opossums, so it is not surprising that the habitat of these animals is so extensive. Some species prefer to live in the vicinity of water bodies, as they lead a semi-aquatic lifestyle. Most representatives of this family prefer to live either on the ground or in trees. nine0003

An interesting moment! Some species prefer to settle near human habitation, although in general opossums prefer not to meet humans.

What the opossum eats

We can safely say that opossums are omnivorous mammals, since their diet contains both animal and vegetable food. As a rule, gastronomic preferences depend on the species, as well as on habitat conditions. As a result of observations, it was established that these animals do what they eat. It seems that these animals cannot get enough, but this is only an impression. In fact, possums are so prudent that they eat in reserve, so that if something happens, they can survive hungry times. nine0003

The diet includes the following food items:

  • Berries.
  • Fruit.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Various insects.
  • Small reptiles.
  • Small rodents.
  • Fish, crustaceans, shrimp.
  • Small birds.
  • Bird eggs.
  • Herbaceous plants.
  • Leaves.
  • Corn cobs.
  • Cereals.

If you have a possum at home as a pet, which is quite fashionable in our time, then such an animal can be fed with all kinds of vegetables, fruits, chicken meat, as well as eggs. In addition, the animal can be given cat food, but in small quantities. As a rule, opossums always have a great appetite. nine0003

Nature and way of life

Opossums prefer to lead an isolated lifestyle, acquiring a mate only for the breeding season. The peak of activity falls on the dark time of the day. During the daytime, these animals prefer to be in their shelters or in the crown of trees, hanging on their tail. About 19 hours a day, opossums go to sleep.

They are quite cautious and shy animals that prefer not to meet with a person, so the capture of an opossum is a rather difficult task, given the fact that opossums make sounds only in extreme cases. They are not talkative also because they lead a secluded lifestyle. They behave in a balanced manner, without showing unmotivated aggression. nine0003

Opossums can be envied for their skill in moving through the canopy of trees. Particularly interesting is the fact that the tail is used, which has reliability and strength, so the opossums even sleep, hanging on the tail. There are also ground-dwelling species, but there are many more tree-dwelling species. Water opossums are distinguished by the fact that they feel great in the water, extracting food for themselves in such conditions.

As a rule, opossums prefer to move from place to place and do not stay in one place for a long time, therefore they do not have a permanent, let alone controlled, habitat. Species that live in colder climates hibernate during cold weather. If warmer periods occur at this time, the opossums wake up. When they wake up, they are refreshed, as they have to stay awake for a short time. nine0003

An important point! Those who had such a pet at home claim that opossums are not distinguished by any kind of intelligence. Despite this, you will never get bored with possums.

Reproduction and offspring

Opossums form pairs during the mating period. Depending on the species of animals, the mating season occurs at different times. North American opossums breed up to 3 times a year, and species that live in warmer climates breed year-round. Tree-dwelling species build something like bird nests for themselves. Land-dwelling species can find shelter left by other animals, as well as among the root system of trees and in other secluded places. nine0003

In general, opossums are very prolific mammals, as a litter can contain more than 2 dozen babies, although this is rare. Basically, up to one and a half dozen cubs are born. Despite the numerous offspring, not all survive, but the most energetic and strong, especially since the female has only 12 or 13 nipples. The female bears her offspring for 25 days, and smaller species for 15 days. The offspring are born prematurely and are more like embryos that weigh a maximum of 5 grams. nine0003

Marsupial opossums carry babies in their pouches where the nipples are, and species that do not have such bags carry their babies on nipples, by which the babies are held, and quite firmly. Babies begin to resemble their parents, somewhere in a couple of months, while their body is covered with hair, they begin to see clearly and gain weight. The female feeds her cubs with milk for 3 months.

The female has a very difficult life, as the grown offspring move onto the mother's back and she has to carry a lot of weight on herself, given that there can be more than a dozen children. After reaching 3 months of age, young opossums begin to eat adult food. By 6 or 8 months of life, both males and females become sexually mature animals. Living in the natural environment, the duration of these animals is about 5 years, and living in captivity, some individuals lived for 9years old.

Natural enemies of possums

Living in natural environment, possums have a sufficient number of natural enemies and this is not at all surprising, since the animal is small and rather shy. On occasion, opossums can become dinner for many predatory animals, as well as predatory birds. For young individuals, snakes are a great danger. These small animals also die from various diseases. Rabies causes serious damage to the number of these animals, and Virginian opossums are carriers of this deadly disease. nine0003

If opossums cannot physically withstand many natural enemies, then they can put on a show if the danger is a deadly threat. Possums are so skillfully pretending to be dead that not a single predator even suspects that they want to spend it "around the finger." The animal falls dead, while its eyes become glassy, ​​foam appears from its mouth, and special glands secrete an aroma resembling a cadaverous smell. Predators, whose diet does not include carrion, sniffing the opossum, move away from the "carrion" as far as possible. When the danger has passed, the animal comes to life and leaves in its own direction. This trick helps opossums to survive among a huge number of predators. nine0003

Population and species status

Opossums are found in both South America and North America. The number of these animals is such that nothing threatens their future, therefore they have the appropriate status, since they do not require any protective measures. Naturally, a person, as a result of his life activity, has a negative impact on the life activity of many animal species, including opossums. The wool of possums is in demand, therefore it is used to make various types of clothing. It is not surprising that many well-known manufacturers sew clothes from the fur of these animals. nine0003

Man needs more and more territories, which have to be taken away from representatives of the animal world. In turn, animals have to adapt to various, sometimes new, living conditions, which is what opossums do. Some South Americans eat opossum meat, and in some countries these animals are considered pests, so they are purposefully exterminated, although in fact they do not pose a serious threat to cultivated lands. Many animals die under the wheels of cars, being on the freeways. nine0003

An important point! At the moment, all of the above threats do not have a significant impact on the total number of opossums living within their habitat. This fact is due to the fact that possums are distinguished by their unpretentiousness, dexterity, endurance and, most importantly, high fertility, which is no less important.

Opossums are amazing animals for a number of reasons. Firstly, this animal lived many years ago and has been preserved in its original form. What is important, many inhabitants of the Planet did not withstand all the difficulties and did not survive to this day, especially in an unchanged form. Secondly, it is a marsupial animal that lives outside the Australian continent. Thirdly, he is endowed with a unique defensive reaction that allows him to imitate his own death, which for many predators is an obstacle to further predatory intentions. nine0003

It should also be noted that this cute and funny living creature will not let anyone get bored.

Our Virginian opossum: cute charm or scary muck?

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Virginia Possum | zoo-ekzo.

com- Exotic animals

Virginian opossum 0003

Genus - common opossums


Virginia opossum is a relatively dense and heavy mammal, about the size of a domestic cat. Body length - from 35 to 94 cm, tail length - 21.6-47 cm. Males are larger and heavier than females - the weight of an adult male is from 0.8 to 6.4 kg, while females weigh 0.3-3, 7 kg. The muzzle of the virginian opossum is elongated and pointed, equipped with long vibrissae. The ears are relatively short, bare, black, with lighter tips. The limbs are short; 5 toes on paws. The gait is stopigrade. The thumb of the hind limbs is devoid of a claw and is strongly opposed to the rest. The soles are bare. The tail is almost naked, long, grasping type, adapted for climbing. Brood bag opens back. nine0003

The general coloration of the fur and skin of the Virginian opossum shows regional variability. As a rule, the color of their fur is grayish-brown, occasionally melanists (black) come across. On the muzzle fur is a contrasting white color. The coat is quite long, the undercoat is short and soft. In northern populations, the undercoat is thick, its hairs are colored white, sometimes with black tips; guard hairs are grey. In southern populations, the undercoat is rarer, the guard hairs are darker in color; in general, the color of the southern individuals is darker. Fingers and ear tips are lighter in northern populations and darker in southern populations; in the latter, the pigmentation of the skin of the tail extends beyond its hairy part. nine0003


The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found in North America. It is widely distributed from Southern Canada (northwestern Ontario) to Mexico and Central America (Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica). The natural range of the Virginian opossum occupies the eastern part of the United States up to the Rocky Mountains; In the southern part of the Pacific coast of the United States, the opossum was brought in at the beginning of the 20th century. (introduced in California in 1910). Currently, its range continues to expand towards the north, although cold weather limits this progress. nine0003

Virginia opossums inhabit a variety of habitats, from relatively dry areas to coastal areas, but generally prefer to stick to moist wooded areas, especially thickets along the banks of water bodies and marshes.

In nature

They usually rest in hollows of trees, in heaps of deadwood, garbage, in populated areas - in abandoned buildings and underground utilities. They themselves do not dig holes, they use other people's empty dens; as a rule, they are occupied by females for brood nests. However, the lack of accessible burrows does not limit the spread of opossums. nine0003

Virginia opossums are territorial animals, although they are presumably partly vagrant, staying in one territory for no more than 6 months. Research has shown that a typical opossum home range is elongated rather than round, following the course of a river or stream. Its area varies from 0.12 to 23.47 hectares, averaging 4.65 hectares (Texas), but can occupy up to 254 hectares. Opossums are solitary; social ties are poorly developed - with the exception of reproductive behavior, adults show hostility towards each other. Although females can be kept in captivity in groups, adult males invariably engage in fights, usually ending in the death of the weaker male. Aggressive behavior includes aggressive vocalizations (hissing, screeching), showing bared teeth, and physical contact. A weaker opponent may fall into catatonia. nine0003

Compared to other mammals, opossums appear rather slow and clumsy. When running, they reach speeds of up to 7.4 km / h. They climb with the help of opposed thumbs and a grasping tail, and also swim quite well, albeit slowly (at a speed of up to 1.1 km / h). They rush into the water in case of danger, easily covering a distance of up to 100 m. In case of serious danger, opossums “pretend” to be dead (in fact, this reaction to severe stress is involuntary), although they can also demonstrate aggressive behavior. A severely frightened opossum enters a cataleptic state that can last from a few minutes to 2-6 hours. In this case, the opossum lies on its side, with its eyes and mouth slightly open, its muscles relax, and the anal glands secrete a fetid greenish secretion. Sensitivity to tactile stimulation is markedly reduced, although animals may respond poorly to sudden sounds. nine0003

Opossums are groomed with the fingers of their hind limbs (except for the large one), combing out parasites with them. They wash their muzzle with their front paws, like cats. The prehensile tail is used not only for climbing, but also for carrying building materials for the nest.

Opossums are active only at night, going in search of food after sunset. Peak activity in spring and summer falls between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. In late autumn and winter, activity noticeably decreases, especially during periods of severe frosts, however, virginian opossums do not hibernate. nine0003

Virginia opossum is omnivorous. Most of its diet consists of insects and other invertebrates, carrion. It also eats plant foods, including cereals, fruits and vegetables, and mushrooms. In populated areas, it willingly rummages through discarded garbage.


The breeding season of the Virginian opossum is long and lasts from January or February to June-July. Peaks of reproductive activity occur at the end of January - end of March and mid-May - beginning of July. The estrous period in females lasts 22-38 days; mating occurs shortly after the female enters estrus. Immediately after it, the female again begins to behave aggressively and drives the male away. nine0003

Fertilization occurs in both wombs, although ovulation may be delayed up to 4 days after intercourse. From each ovary, on average, 11 eggs (0.75 mm in diameter) are released, fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes. After 24 hours, the fertilized eggs enter the uterus. The placenta is not formed, but the embryo is surrounded by folds of the uterine wall. The close contact of the chorion and the blood vessels of the uterine mucosa allows nutrients to move from the mother's bloodstream to the fetuses. Pregnancy lasts 12-13 days; births occur from February to July. The brood initially consists of 5-23 cubs, however, since the female, as a rule, has only 13 nipples, some of the newborns do not survive. Thus, the average brood size of the Virginian opossum is 7-9cubs. In the northern part of the range, opossums have 1 brood per year; in the rest of the range - 2 broods per year, occasionally - 3.

Cubs are born very premature, weighing only 0.16 g and 14 mm long. They look more like embryos than mature animals. Immediately after birth, with the help of developed claws on their front paws, they crawl into the mother's pouch, where they attach to the nipples. When the baby starts to suckle, the nipple swells and completely fills his mouth. The cubs remain attached to the nipples for up to 50-65 days of life, which is roughly comparable to the duration of pregnancy in a placental mammal of a similar size. 2 months after birth, the cubs develop hair and open their eyes, and after another 5-10 days they begin to move independently and eat solid food. At this time, when moving, the cubs climb onto the back of the mother, often holding onto her tail with their tails, which is raised above the back with the end forward. nine0003

Young opossums become independent between the 95th and 105th day of life, after which any connection with their mother ceases. Females observed in captivity did not protect their brood and allowed it to be taken from the nest. Since pregnancy in females is shorter than the estrous cycle, having lost a brood, a female may soon mate again. Young females reach sexual maturity by 9 months and rarely live more than 1 reproductive season in the wild. Mortality in the first year of life is high, but studies have shown that opossum populations can be up to 75% young. nine0003


Opossums are easily tamed in captivity and become completely undemanding. They like to sit on their hands and on their heads - an instinct from childhood when they traveled on their mother's back.

In the process of education, harsh punishments should not be applied to opossums. This can lead to his aggression. Also, aggressiveness can manifest itself with the constant content of the opossum in the cage. An opossum must have daily human contact if you want it to be tame. nine0003

Possums are excellent climbers and climb up a tree or a cupboard without difficulty. Therefore, it will be necessary to organize special devices in the apartment so that the animal can climb on them.

Potty training for possums is no more difficult than for a cat or a ferret. Place the tray next to their sleeping place, as well as in those rooms where you release the animal.

Opossums do not require frequent bathing. A healthy opossum has no odor. Opossums are quite clean animals and they themselves monitor the cleanliness of their skins. nine0003

The animal should be kept away from heating devices (radiator, microwave oven, refrigerator), protected from drafts and direct sunlight.

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