Virginia opossum

(Didelphis virginiana)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

 

No Image Available

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

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

Habitat

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

Lifespan

About 2 years in the wild

Size

Head and body: 17 to 21½

Tail: 10¼ to 13¾


Identification

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.

 
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

 


Food

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

 
Life Cycle

 

 
Behavior

Virginia opossum is usually active only at night.

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


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 15, 29.


Comments

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


Taxonomy

Order:

Didelphimorphia

 

Family:

Didelphidae

 

Subfamily:

Didelphinae

 
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)

Yucatan opossum (Didelphis virginiana yucatanensis)

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

North American opossum

opossum

Virginia opossum


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

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Slideshows

   
  Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)
Bill Keim
 
  Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)  

 

slideshow

     

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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

         

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name withheld
10/23/2015

Location: Burnsville/Lakeville border edge Buck Hill


     
     
 

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Lakeville, MN


 

 

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