Isn’t this little guy pictured above absolutely adorable? I think so. Some might not.
Opossums aren’t the most loved critters on planet earth, and some people see them as vermin. Take a minute to travel beyond all the stereotypes about opossums and let’s look a little deeper into their short lives.
Check out these ten intriguing facts about the opossum:
1 – Opossums don’t live very long.
Unfortunately, most opossums only live around 1-2 years at the most. That means when you pass opossums on the side of the road, stop to hang out for a minute. Their little lives are short, and they could use all the friends and fun offered to them. Take a rest break from driving to observe this odd critter.
2 – When it comes to food, opossums aren’t picky at all.
These cat-sized creatures can eat anything from trash to another opossum that has perished. Plants, tiny mammals, human waste – all on the opossum’s menu. Finding food isn’t typically a problem for these little guys.
3 – You could probably outrun a opossum.
This creature does not have speed on its side. This lack of quickness is one reason why opossums often resort to “playing dead” when they feel threatened. If you think you’re a slow runner, race a opossum. It might lift your spirits.
4 – They might be slow, but opossums are actually awesome swimmers.
Opossums can compensate for their slow running skills with “playing dead” and…swimming. Pretty cool, huh?
5 – Not only are they good swimmers, but opossums can also climb.
The slow running isn’t sounding like much of a hindrance now, is it? Opossums survive in other ways than out-running their predators. Climbing isn’t their first option of evading danger, but if necessary, they do possess the skills to climb and escape.
6 – Opossums move their homes often.
Using dens already created by other animals – and other safe, dark places – opossums get cozy, stay awhile, and then move on to another den. This helps them deter nearby danger and predators.
7 – In the beginning of the 20th century, opossums were common pets.
Though some people do keep opossums as pets these days, it’s not very common. It’s odd to imagine that opossums were once in high demand as furry companions.
8 – Opossums are not rodents, they are marsupials.
Though opossums might have a rat-like appearance and rodent-like behavior, they’re not rodents at all. They are marsupials.
Marsupials are mammals that grow and strengthen their babies in an external (yet, air tight when necessary) pouch (instead of the placenta, like humans and most other mammals.)
It’s easier to picture when hearing this is the same group that kangaroos belong to – external pouches to house their young.
9 – Opossums might growl and hiss when they feel threatened.
More often than not, these critters are silent and use other methods of defense. But don’t be surprised if you startle a opossum and see it bare its little teeth while hissing at you.
10 – Opossums are…germaphobes.
Okay, maybe not exactly. However, like cats, opossums groom themselves constantly throughout their waking hours. In fact, they’re amazing at taking care of ticks as well. So last time you went for a walk in the woods and didn’t feel a tick piercing your skin, you might want to thank a opossum.
Next time you see a little opossum, say, “Thanks for keeping that tick away from me.” Seriously – show some gratitude.
Thank you so much for reading this post about an amazing, misunderstood critter. Hopefully opossums will now hold a special place in your heart.
What humans can learn from the opossum: Make up for weak areas by focusing on your strengths.
Have a great day!
Kirchner, J. (2017, June 13). Opossums: Unsung Heroes in the Fight against Ticks and Lyme disease. Retrieved from http://blog.nwf.org/2017/06/opossums-unsung-heroes-in-the-fight-against-ticks-and-lyme-disease/
Living with Wildlife: Opossums. Retrieved from https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/opossums.html
Virginia Opossum (Didelphis Virginian). https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/oposum/