Have you ever heard of a creature that hangs upside-down from trees, has a pouch, and plays “possum” when it’s scared? Did you guess opossums? These nocturnal critters are full of surprises and are more than just their famous “playing dead” trick. From their pointy noses to their swishing tails, opossums are nature’s little comedians. Ready to dive into the world of these fascinating marsupials and learn incredible facts about opossums? Let’s get started!
First, let’s establish something really quick: opossums are not the same as possums—even though the names sound alike. Opossums live in North America, while possums are their distant cousins from Australia. But our spotlight is on the opossum, with its famous grin and clever tricks.
Did you know that “playing dead” is actually a thing with opossums? When an opossum gets super scared, it might flop over and pretend it’s not alive! This trick can confuse predators and give the opossum a chance to escape.
And here’s something cute: mama opossums have a pouch, just like kangaroos! Baby opossums, called joeys, snuggle up inside this pouch when tiny. As they grow, they’ll ride on their mom’s back, holding on tight with their little paws.
Are your ears perked up and ready to learn more? From their handy tails to their nighttime adventures, opossums are full of fun facts. Let’s scurry on and uncover more about these clever nighttime critters!
So, let’s get ready to light up your brain with some more electrifying facts about lightning. Stick around because we’re just getting started on this shocking adventure! Don’t forget to grab your free opossum fact cards below!
Best Facts About Opossums
- An opossum litter may consist of 25 young, but a female has only 13 nipples, not all of which may provide milk. If the opossum doesn’t fasten to a functioning nipple, it dies.
- Opossums have pouches like kangaroos!
- Female opossums often lick their pouch and surrounding areas before giving birth, sometimes making a sneezing sound when they do.
- They’re immune to most forms of snake venom.
- Opossums are almost the size of a domestic cat.
- They can also recall the smell of toxic substances up to a year after trying them.
- Opossums have a lifespan of just two years.
- Their tails act like a fifth appendage.
- They also help clean up sources of pests by eating rotting fruit and vegetables.
- There are semi-aquatic opossums
- They’re constantly self-grooming.
- Baby possums can even use their tails to hang from branches upside down, as they’re often depicted doing in cartoons.
- The mother opossum licks the pouch and other fur to help the baby opossum in their journey.
- Their name likely originated from the Powhatan language, and the borrowed word meant “white dog or dog-like beast”.
- Baby opossums stay with mom for about 100 days and, as they age, they’ll start venturing out of the pouch more and more.
- Male water opossums also have pouches.
- According to the National Wildlife Federation, a single possum consumes 5000 of the parasites per tick season.
- Opossums are nicknamed “nature’s little sanitation engineers.”
- Despite having good night vision, these nocturnal marsupials have relatively poor general eyesight and color vision.
- Male opossums, called jacks, are usually larger than the females, called jills.
- The opossum’s normal diet consists of carrion, rodents, snakes, insects, snails, slugs, birds, eggs, frogs, plants, fruits, and grains.
- Possums have no control over when they play dead or for how long they do it: The comatose-like state is an involuntary reaction triggered by stress.
- They almost never get rabies.
- Opossums have over four dozen teeth.
- Researchers found that possums are better at remembering which runway led to a tasty treat than cats, dogs, and even rats.
- Opossums are marsupials, not rodents.
- Opossums do not hibernate, but they move slower during the winter.
- Opossum eyes do have whites and irises, but because their pupils are so large, their eyes appear completely black from a distance.
- Their eyes aren’t totally black.
- Young opossums will make sneezing sounds or a soft “choo choo” to call out to their mother, who will respond with clicking noises.
Do you have even more interesting facts about opossums? Share them with us in the comments! Also, don’t forget to grab your free opossum fact cards to add to your collection!
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Michele is a mom of 5 with her degree in marriage and family studies. She believes that one of the best ways you can spend time with your family is doing fun things together.