Field Guide/Mammals/Virginia Opossum

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Didelphis virginiana (Virginia Opossum)
Family: Opossum (Didelphidae)
Size: Total Length: 2.5 feet (76 centimeters)

Tail Length: 1 foot (30.48 centimeters)

Weight: 8-13.2 pounds (4-6 kilograms)
Description: Greyish-white fur that is long and dense. Has a long, pointed face with whiskers. Tail is long and has very little fur.[1]
Similar Species: Opossums are characterized by their long tail, which can act like a third appendage when hanging from a tree.

Range: The opossum can be found as far north as the Canadian border, and as far south as Costa Rica. It can be found throughout the United States.
Habitat: Opossum do not have a specific habitat. They can be found in cities and rural areas. They populate wooded areas along creeks and lakes.
Diet: Opossum are omnivores. They eat grass and fruit as well as mice, worms, and chickens. They are scavengers and can often be found by road kill or garbage cans and dumpsters.[2]
Activity: Opossum do not migrate or have a specific territory. They are nocturnal.

Reproduction: Gestation period is 12-13 days from the months of February to July. The young are as small as honeybees when they are born. After birth they crawl into the females pouch, where they continue to develop and start to nurse. Litter sizes can be as large as 20, though half do not survive. They leave their mother 90-105 days after birth.[3]
Lifespan: 2-3 years
Baby Opossum

  1. Krause, W. J.; Krause, W. A. (2006), The Opossum: Its Amazing Story, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri: Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, School of Medicine 
  2. National Geographic (2012), Opossum, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/opossum/, retrieved 9-23-12 
  3. National Geographic (2012), Opossum, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/opossum/, retrieved 9-23-12