Opossums are often portrayed as garage intruders and “creepy-looking” animals that appear on our patios at night. Here are some interesting opossum facts (and sure, there is a silent “o” that remains silent) that will have you thinking before removing them from your property! They’re not exactly the cutest, and some even go even further and say they’re ugly. However, the opossum is extremely useful, but they are usually overlooked.
Opossums, including around 100 species of the order Didelphimorphia, are among the Americas’ most misunderstood species. They’re usually portrayed as sly, dirty animals whose most notable trick is acting as roadkill.
The reality is the opposite. Opossums are cleaner, brighter and more beneficial to humans than many of their woodland friends. Find out more Opossum facts.
Best Opossum Facts:
1. Opossums kill ticks in The Thousands
Opossums are omnivores and will try everything they come across, which you’ll know well if you’ve seen the opossum in your trash bins. Ticks, especially those with black legs, like deer ticks which are the leading cause of Lyme disease, are believed to be the top food option for opossums to eat. A few years ago, scientists of Cary Institute put opossums and other species such as squirrels, chipmunks, mice and catbirds to the test, offering every animal 100 ticks to consume. Opossums killed and destroyed more ticks than other animals, which led scientists to conclude that a single opossum consumes approximately 5 000 ticks in one season. Find some of our tick treatments here!
2. The Only One Known North American Marsupial
Outside of Mexico, The Virginia Opossum is the sole known marsupial species to have made its home in North America – although there are many other species of the opossum to be found in different parts of the entire world. Marsupials are tiny animals that tend to raise their children in pouches, including kangaroos, wombats, koalas, and the opossum.
3. Opossums Are Amazingly Agile
If you’ve ever seen an opossum in action, It might have been viewed as an unsteady creature. But opossums are top tree climbers, sporting sharp claws with opposite thumbs that rest on the hind legs and a long, prehensile tail that allows them to climb the trunks and hold onto branches. Opossums are, in fact, fond of trees such that they frequently make nests in hollows within trees.
4. The Instructible Opossum?
Opossums aren’t impervious to destruction; however, they possess quite a few natural immunities. They’re mostly free of rabies, even though it is rare. They are also generally invulnerable to snake venom like rattlesnakes and cottonmouths.
5. Opossums Make Strange Noises
It’s unlikely that you’ve heard an opossum making sounds before since they’re usually quite silent. However, they do make some distinctive sounds. Opossums in their early years will sound sneezing or make the soft “choo choo” to call their mother, and she will respond by making clicking sounds. Males will make the same clicking sounds during mating seasons. If an opossum feels threatened, it might make a growl or hiss.
6. “Playing Possum” isn’t a lie!
Possums have a range of defence strategies, including belching, growling, and urinating if they are threatened. But their most well-known defence method is “playing the opossum”, like playing dead. But the reason for this isn’t the opossum playing. It’s an involuntary response similar to fainting, which causes the opossum’s muscles to swell up. When they are in such a state, the opossums can have exposed teeth or swell up in the mouth and release stinky fluids from their glands in the anal area to simulate illness. After being catatonic, opossums may remain in this state for as long as four hours, which effectively deter predators, who generally avoid carrion.
7. Baby Opossums are Cute and a little weird!
Opossums born as babies are known as Joeys, similar to baby kangaroos. And when they’re born, they’re approximately the size of honeybees. Opossums as infants crawl into the pouch of their mothers, where they’ll stay for two to three months. Opossums born to mothers stay for around 100 days. As they get older and become more independent, they’ll begin to venture out from the pouch more. Instead of exploring by themselves typically, they’ll hitch a ride, hanging onto their mother’s back while she hunts for.
Opossums are frequently misunderstood however they’re great animals to keep around. They’re gentle, not likely to harm pets or transmit diseases, and they can assist in keeping the population of pests under control. Instead of trying to keep them out of your sight and letting them go, let them stay, and they’ll help clean upticks, snakes that venom or bird seeds that have been dumped and other things. In all the animals that come to your yard, the opossum is among the most desirable animals to be around.
Also, check out 10+ Interesting Finger Monkey Facts!!