The opossum is one of the coolest rodents you’ll meet. Wondering why? It’s because they’re equipped with a prehensile tail that aids them in grasping tree branches, and they’re the only marsupials in North America!
Opossums are nocturnal creatures usually found on the ground foraging for food. Their diet consists of small insects, rodents, carrion, and fruit.
It may be rare for some to encounter opossums. Few are knowledgeable, especially in states and regions where only a single species exists. So, to dive more into opossums, let’s find out about their habitat!
What kind of habitat did opossums live in?
Opossums are marsupials belonging to the Didelphimorphia order native to the Americas. Originally native to South America, opossums have spread northward to Canada and Central America. Marsupials represent the largest order of mammals in the Western Hemisphere, consisting of 103 or more species in 19 genera.
Though found in various habitats, opossums typically inhabit wooded or brushy countries. They are also commonly found living near farms and suburban neighborhoods. Opossums will often reside in an existing burrow made by another animal.
What factors influenced where they live?
The main factor determining where an opossum will live is the availability of food and water. Opossums are not picky eaters and feast on just about anything they can find, including insects, rodents, carrion, and fruit.
Another factor influencing where opossums live is the presence of other animals. Opossums are typically loners and do not like to share their space with other creatures. However, they will often reside in an existing burrow made by another animal.
Where do opossums usually see?
Opossums are nocturnal creatures and are most active at night. They spend their days sleeping in trees, dens, or caves. When awake, they can often be seen foraging for food or grooming themselves.
During the winter, opossums may spend more time in their dens to stay warm. In the summer, they may spend more time in trees to stay cool.
Where do they live?
Since they are arboreal animals, you may meet opossums in the forest, hiding in trees. But opossums live in various habitats, including wooded areas, brushy countries, near farms, and suburban neighborhoods. They are also commonly found living near humans in cities and towns. Opossums will often reside in an existing burrow made by another animal.
Since opossums live near humans and other animals, they can be a source of disease. They carry fleas, ticks, and mites, which can spread diseases to humans and other animals. Opossums can also carry rabies, though this is rare.
Opossums home range
An opossum’s home range varies on the availability of food, water, den sites, and mobility capacity. If food and water are plentiful, an opossum’s home range will be smaller. An opossum’s home range will be larger if food and water are scarce.
An opossum’s home range also varies with the season. When food is plentiful in the summer, opossums will have a smaller home range. In the winter, when food is scarce, opossums will have a more extensive home range to find enough food to survive.
What does the opossums’ range look like?
Looking at an opossum range on the United States map, they now occupy half of the eastern region. In the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, there’s a big blank that they do not inhabit. Nevertheless, they still exist along the U.S. west coast.
Where do they roam?
Opossums are not picky when it comes to the environment they live in. However, they love to shadow trees and stay close to them as much as possible. Also, they love areas near bodies of water. So, they may also roam near streams, marshes, and swamps.
How far can opossums roam?
Opossums are excellent climbers and can climb up to 1 meter high in a single jump. They can also swim and climb trees. When they roam for food, they usually forage near their current dens. However, they can travel as far as two miles in search of a perfect meal.
How big is an opossum’s territory?
An opossum’s territory measures about 50 acres or 21 hectares. This is a large territory for such a small animal.
Opossums are not territorial to the point that they will fight and quarrel with other opossums to defend their home territory. In fact, many opossum territories overlap. A suitable habitat may cater to as many as 20 opossums per square mile.
Male opossums will tend to be territorial, though. They don’t want other males to come in and mate with the females in their territory. However, this is only during the mating season.
How do opossums hunt and forage their food?
Opossums are opportunistic eaters who feast on just about anything they can find. Their diet includes insects, rodents, carrion or dead animals, and fruit.
Opossums are not really hunters. They are more scavengers than anything else. When they kill prey, they usually eat the entire animal, including the fur, bones, and innards. However, they sometimes kill small prey, such as mice and rats.
Opossums will also often forage in trash cans and dumpsters for food. They are also known to eat pet food that is left out overnight.
How does their habitat affect their diet?
Opossums in urban areas will often have a different diet than those in rural areas. This is because there is more food available to them in urban areas. Their diet consists primarily of plants, insects, and small animals in rural areas. In urban areas, opossums often eat garbage, pet food, and insects.
Even though opossums are opportunistic eaters, they still prefer certain foods over others. Fruits and vegetables are their favorite food. They also enjoy eating insects, snails, slugs, and worms. They often eat garbage, pet food, and insects in urban areas.
How do opossums avoid being eaten?
Opossums are famous for “playing possum” or “playing dead.” They lie on their side, open their mouth, and release a foul-smelling liquid from their anal glands. This makes them smell like road kill, which deters predators. This acts as their defense mechanism.
Opossums sometimes hiss, growl, and show their teeth to predators. If that doesn’t work, they will try to run away. However, they are not very fast runners, so they often get caught by predators.
Climate and Weather Conditions for Opossums
Opossums are found in a variety of climates, from cold to hot. They are primarily found in North and South America. In North America, they are located in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. They are found in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile in South America.
Opossums do not hibernate but sleep for long periods during the winter. This is because food is scarce in the winter. When it gets cold, opossums often sleep in their dens for days or weeks.
When it gets hot, opossums often pant and lick their fur to cool down. They will also spend more time in the shade and in bodies of water to stay cool.
The Only Marsupial In North America
In North America, the species Virginia opossum is the only marsupial and the only species of the opossum existing. All the other marsupials live in different regions of America.
Virginia opossums are about the size of a house cat. These mammals’ bodies are covered in grey or brown fur, although they appear lighter when under the sun or sky. They have a white face with dark, black eyes and small ears. They have long tails and opposable thumbs on their hind feet.
Virginia opossums are found in forests, swamps, and grasslands and live in trees, ground, and caves. They like to eat insects, rodents, carrion, and fruit.
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Opossums rarely attack humans. But, opossums become dangerous because of the many diseases they can transmit to humans. Aside from that, they cause property damage that is expensive and time-consuming to repair.
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The opossum is a small, nocturnal marsupial found in North and South America. They are opportunistic eaters and eat just about anything they can find, including garbage, pet food, and insects.
Opossums are also known to “play possum” or “play dead.” This is when they involuntarily play dead due to shock or threat. These prehensile beings exist in a wide range of climates, from cold to hot. They are primarily found in North and South America, in countries such as Canada, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.
Their wide home range signifies their high level of adaptability to different habitats. Nevertheless, they generally prefer wooded areas with access to water sources.
To learn more about the habitat preferences of opossums and the potential damage they can cause, click here: opossum habitat.
How many offspring can opossums have?
Female opossums can have young opossums of anywhere from one to thirteen, but the average litter size is seven. This happens after opossums breed between January and October.
What is inside an opossum’s diet?
Opossums are opportunistic omnivorous eaters whose diet changes depending on what they can find. They typically eat insects, rodents, carrion, fruit, small birds, bird eggs, and small snakes. When they’re in urban areas, they will rummage through garbage cans in search of a delicious snack.
Do opossums build nests?
No, opossums do not build nests. Instead, they find existing structures such as trees, stumps, and logs to nest in. They will also nest in abandoned buildings and attics. But when they inhabit these places, they carry leaves, twigs, and other materials for them to lie on.