Virginia opossum

(Didelphis virginiana)

Conservation Status
Virginia opossum
Photo by Ramona Abrego
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Virginia opossum is the largest opossum in the world and the only marsupial in North America.

In northern states the undercoat is white and the guard hairs are tipped with black, resulting in an overall whitish-gray appearance. The tail is prehensile and naked. The basal third to half of the tail is black, the rest white. It is sometimes shortened from being partially frozen off.

The muzzle is long and narrow. The face is white. The ears are naked, paper thin, and black with a white tip. They are often shortened from being partially frozen off.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Head and body: 17 to 21½

Tail: 10¼ to 13¾

 
     
 

Sign

 
 

Tracks
The front foot makes a star-like print with five toes pointing in different directions. The opposable thumb on the hind foot may point at right angles or even in the opposite direction of the rest of the toes. That thumb has no nail. The rear print is next to or partially covering the front print.

Dens
Opossums generally use the den of another animal, usually after it has been abandoned, sometimes chasing the original owner out. They do not dig their own dens.

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Deciduous and mixed forests and woodlands, brushy areas, agricultural areas, old fields

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Behavior

 
 

Virginia opossum is usually active only at night.

When threatened it may feign death. This is the origin of the term “playing possum”.

 
     
 

Lifespan

 
 

About 2 years in the wild

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Insects and other invertebrates, small birds and mammals, frogs, carrion, bird eggs, fruits, grains, and human garbage.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 15, 24, 29.

 
  3/24/2018      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common in the southern third of Minnesota, uncommon farther north, absent from the coniferous forest

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Mammalia (mammals)  
  Subclass Theria  
  Infraclass Metatheria (marsupials and allies)  
  Order Didelphimorphia (marsupials, American marsupials)  
 

Family

Didelphidae (opossoms, American opossums)  
 

Subfamily

Didelphinae (large American opossums, mouse opossums, and allies)  
  Tribe Didelphini (large New World opossums)  
 

Genus

Didelphis (large American opossums)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Californian opossum (Didelphis virginiana californica)

Florida opossum (Didelphis virginiana pigra)

Linnean opossum (Didelphis virginiana mesamericana)

Texan opossum (Didelphis virginiana texensis)

Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana virginiana)

Yucatán opossum (Didelphis virginiana yucatanensis)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

North American opossum

opossum

Virginia opossum

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Ramona Abrego

 
    Virginia opossum   Virginia opossum  
           
    Virginia opossum      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

Camera

     
 
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slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Virginia Opossum - HD Mini-Documentary
James Knott
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on May 26, 2009

Transcript: "The Virginia Opossum also known as the North American Opossum is the only marsupial in North America. Marsupials have pouches for carrying their young through early infancy.

Baby opossums live in these pouches for 2-3 months and then ride on their mothers backs for an additional month or two. This is a huge portion of their life, considering that opossums have an average life span of only two years in the wild.

Opossums are slow, solitary, nocturnal animals and prefer to be left alone. When threatened they will hiss and bear their teeth, but under extreme circumstances they will play dead. Playing Possum serves two purposes it discourages predators that only eat live prey and it convinces some larger animals that they are not a threat to their young.

Virginia Opossums are the largest Opossums in the world. They are 15-20 inches long and weigh 9 to 13 lbs about the size of a domestic cat.

They have clawless thumbs on their hind feet and hairless prehensile tails that can grab objects and help them to balance when they are climbing."

   
  Opossum, Where Art Thou? Rescue, Rehab, and Release
The Humane Society of the United States
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 26, 2014

Watch Humane Wildlife Services and City Wildlife team up to give this little guy a second chance!

HWS was called out to find an opossum who had been trapped in a Washington, DC store for days. Once found, we could see that he was clearly malnourished, so we took him to City Wildlife for a little help. Once his health was restored, he was released 6 days later.

The Virginia Opossum is North America’s only marsupial. While they may look menacing when they show their teeth and hiss, it’s mainly a bluff. Their main defense mechanism is to play dead or ‘possum. They are excellent climbers who take advantage of an urban diet, which includes carrion, garbage, cockroaches, rats and mice. Coupled with the fact that they are less likely to contract rabies than any other mammal- opossums are one of our most beneficial, yet misunderstood wild neighbors.

Learn more about these amazing animals:
http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/opossums

Learn more about City Wildlife – the only wildlife rehabilitation center in Washington DC:
http://citywildlife.org

   
  Adventures with Swamp Girl! Virginia Opossum!
Swamp Girl
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Oct 19, 2009

Learn about the Virginia opossum with Swamp Girl!!

   
  Another Opossum
alicechaos
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 5, 2008

Young virginia opossum in Havahart trap.

   
  Virginia Opossum
KathyChlumsky
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 13, 2009

Backyard buffet

   
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this mammal.

 
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  Duane Klooz
7/11/2021

Location:  2527 16th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404

first sighted in April. Since then I've discovered that theirs a family of them Residing under my neighbors house. For sure there are at least 3 possiums. Perhaps more I'm not sure. I just seen a baby walking thru my back yard. There it was, spotted it in the corner of my eye. As I was putting  mimzy down (my Chihuahua) to potty. Sudden change of plans. Straight back inside we went.. I Literally live 10 ft from the house next door further more, under my other neighbors front porch is a family of raccoons. All the gunshots lately in My neighborhood along with the mammals prowling late at night keeps me from having fun after dark.

 
  Lila
7/31/2018

Location: Edina

We saw a large opossum crossing the street into a neighbors yard. It went into the bushes.

 
  Iron Skye
6/5/2018

Location: Minneapolis, MN

I live in South Minneapolis about 10 city blocks due east if I35W. This animal was seen on the 4400 block of Columbus Avenue for the second time this week, both times at about 11:30pm.

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

Burnsville, MN

Lakeville, MN

Savage Fen SNA

 

 

 

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