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image of a opossum
11/28/2022 5 minute read

How Big Do Opossums Get?

Opossums are solitary animals famous for being the only marsupial in North America. If you don't know what marsupials are, they are mammals that carry their young in a pouch. Even though they're not the cuddliest creatures, many people still find them interesting. Besides being the only pouched animal in…

Opossums are solitary animals famous for being the only marsupial in North America. If you don’t know what marsupials are, they are mammals that carry their young in a pouch. Even though they’re not the cuddliest creatures, many people still find them interesting.

Besides being the only pouched animal in North America, only one species exists. They are the Virginia Opossums. All other opossum species live in Mexico, Australia, Central and South America, and Canada.

This furry little creature can be tricky to identify, especially if you’re unfamiliar with how large it can be. Let’s learn about the growth of these fellas!

Opossum climbing on a tree

How big can an opossum get?

Opossums are relatively small animals. The average adult opossum is about the size of a house cat. However, they can grow to be as big as a medium-sized dog.

When opossums are born, they are about the size of a honeybee. They are born blind and naked and must crawl into their mother’s pouch to nurse. After about two months, they are big enough to leave the pouch and begin exploring independently.

The length of Opossums from head to toe

On average, an adult opossum is about 20 inches long from its head to its toe. This is about the same size as a house cat. But if you include measuring their tails, they could be as big as 30 inches.

a opossum with a long tail on the ground

The Tail Length of Opossum

The measurement of an opossum’s hairless tail is about 10-12 inches. The opossum has a prehensile tail- like a monkey! Meaning they can grip and hold on to things. This is helpful for them when they are climbing tree branches.

Opossums’ average height and weight

The average weight of an opossum is about 5-14 pounds. The weight depends on the gender and the species of opossum. Male opossums tend to be larger and heavier than females. An opossum measures about 12-16 inches tall when standing on all four legs.

How did they get so big?

Opossums belong to the oldest existing mammals in the world. They have dated 60 million years back. So, with evolution and endless environmental adaptation, these creatures have developed the ability to eat almost everything!

The major factor in opossums’ growth is their food. Opossums are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists of small mammals, birds, eggs, insects, snails, slugs, fruits, and vegetables.

With a vast array of food options, it’s no surprise that opossums can grow to be as big as they are!

a virginia opossum on a tree

The Largest Virginia Opossums

The Virginia Opossum is one of the largest opossums that have set foot in South and North American lands. These species of opossums are a bit larger than the average opossum. Male Virginia opossums can grow to be as big as 30 inches long and weigh up to 14 pounds!

However, males and females have varying average sizes. Male opossums get bigger than the normal size. They can be as big as 40 inches, while most females average only 28 inches.

a white-eared opossum walking on a cable line

How big can a White-Eared Opossum get?

White-eared opossums (Didelphis albiventris) are the fiercest-looking species of the Didelphimorphia family. This is because black fur encircles their eye, and a line of fur shaped like a triangle runs from their snout up to their back. They are commonly identified as timbu in Brazil and comadreja overa in Argentina.

This species can reach up to 14 inches in size and weigh about 2 pounds. The males of this species are still usually larger than the females. These critters are found in the Amazon basin, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.

a gray-short-tailed opossum in the woods

How big can a Gray Short-Tailed Opossums be?

We’ve discussed opossums that have measured more than 10 inches. But now, we’ll dive into a very small opossum species. They’re the gray short-tailed opossums!

As their name suggests, they have short tails that are usually no longer than 8 inches. They are also one of the smallest opossums, with a body length of only 5-7 inches. These guys weigh about as much as a U.S. quarter, averaging 2 to 3 ounces!

Female opossums of this species only have a single womb, meaning they lack the pocket where opossums nurse young opossums. They’re one of the few pouchless marsupials and opossums.

a opossum rolling over on the lawn

Opossum Facts!

Opossums do not share a specific feature like other animals. The opossum is famous for “playing possum.” This is their involuntary defense mechanism when they feel threatened. They “play dead,” fainting and becoming completely unresponsive.

This North American mammal belongs to the group of nocturnal animals. This means that they are more active at night. When it comes to diet, opossums are not just omnivores but are also known to eat carrion, which is the remains of dead animals.

Have A Nuisance Opossum On Your Property?

Opossums can cause a lot of damage to your property. Not to mention, they can leave a significant amount of waste! When encountering opossum problems such as these, connect with AAAC Wildlife Removal. We will provide you with the best opossum removal and control services.

We at AAAC Wildlife Removal are not just experts at opossum removal. We are also experts at removing raccoons, squirrels, bats, beavers, and other rodents on your property.

Final Word

It’s no secret that opossums can grow to be pretty big. Some species can be as big as 30 inches, and males can be as big as 40 inches.

When most people think of opossums, they think of small, rat-like creatures. But the truth is, opossums can grow to be quite large! The average weight of an opossum is 5-14 pounds, but some males can reach up to a few more pounds when met with an abundant source of food.

If you think opossums are always larger than rats, they’re not! The gray short-tailed species of these fantastic marsupials has only become as big as 7 inches!

FAQs

What habitats do possums prefer?

When it comes to habitat, opossums often live in the woods, near sites of water, like streams, rivers, and ponds. Here, they encounter different predators, such as foxes, coyotes, bobcats, wild cats, wild dogs, owls, and snakes.

What do opossums eat?

Opossums belong to the omnivore family, who love eating anything they find. They like insects, reptiles, worms, grains, crustaceans, mice, amphibians, berries, nuts, and other small mammals. But opossums are not just omnivores but are also known to scavenge on carrion, the remains of dead animals. In addition, these creatures will rummage through garbage and eat pet food, poultry, or bird seed, when they have access.

How many kits do opossums give birth to?

Beavers usually have litters of 2 to 8 baby beavers. However, the average number of babies per litter is four. They’re born in spring, after a successful breeding season from January to July.