Other names: Opossum
Latin name: Didelphis
size: 30 - 50cm
mass: up to 5000g
Older: 2 - 3 years
Appearance: greyish coat
Sexual dimorphism: Yes
Nutrition type: Omnivore (omnivor)
food: Mammals, amphibians, reptiles
distribution: North and South America
original origin: probably North America
Sleep-wake rhythm: nocturnal
habitat: prefers forests
natural enemies: Fox, owl
sexual maturity: from the second year of life
mating season: February - May
gestation: 12-14 days
litter size: up to 20 cubs
social behavior: Loners
Threatened with extinction: No
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.
Interesting facts about the possum
- The possum belongs to the family of opossums and is found only on the American continent.
- This marsupial is one of the oldest animal species ever, because it inhabited the earth already 80 million years ago.
- Opossums are native to the United States to southern Canada, Central America and some Latin American countries, where they inhabit different habitats.
- Opossums prefer to live in deciduous and coniferous forests, but also in prairies and near dense river banks, in urban parks and agricultural areas.
- Depending on the area of distribution, a distinction is made between several species, including the Virginia Opossum, the Southern Opossum and the Weißohropossum.
- With a total of 52 teeth, the Virginia Possum is considered the mammal with the largest dentition.
- Opossums, depending on the species between 30 centimeters and a half feet long and reach a body weight of up to five kilograms. This makes them the largest representatives of the opossum.
- Opossums have a fur dress that consists of a long-bristled, predominantly mid-gray top coat and a white undercoat. The white forehead often shows several black stripes. The tail, which serves the opossum as an important gripping instrument, is naked and sparsely hairy only at the root. The ears are comparatively large and usually pink or black, the black button eyes are slightly protruding.
- Opossums are nocturnal loners who go to search for food at dusk in their area. Companions tend to behave extremely aggressively.
- During the day they retreat to their hiding places, which they find in hollow tree trunks and crevices or excavate in the ground themselves.
- Only in the mating season Opossums meet each other. After a gestation period of an average of thirteen days, the female gives birth to up to twenty young. Only about half find a teat and stay in the mother's bag for two months after birth. After the kittens leave the bag, they are carried on their mother's back for another three months before finally leaving their care.
- As carnivores, possums feed mainly on small birds and mammals, snails, frogs, snakes, worms and insects. Various berries and fruits, grains and seeds as well as carrion serve the opossums as important food sources. Occasionally, as cultural followers, they also browse garbage cans and tear poultry.
- Although they are hunted intensely for their fur and many copies fall victim to road traffic, possums are not endangered species.
- Natural enemies of Opossums are in addition to humans and large birds of prey such as owls and foxes, coyotes and wild cats. If the opossum is threatened by a predator, it is dead. It rolls together, leaves the tongue out of the mouth and remains motionless for several hours.
- In the wild, possums have a life expectancy of about two years, but in captivity can be up to three times as old.