They make up the largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere. One thing to note about the Opossum is that they are America's only marsupial which carries its kids in its pouch like a kangaroo does. The tricky opossum is on of earth oldest species. It is believed that they even existed before the dinosaurs.
Biological Info (Virginia Opossum)
- The Opossum can weigh anywhere from 1 - 6.5kg
- They can have a lifespan of up to 4 years
- They grow to a maximum length of 35-100 cm
The opossum diet consist of both vegetables and meat. They are not too much of a picky eaters and will gobble down just about anything which they can manage. They will eat; fruits, grains, vegetables, shrubs, eggs, frogs, mice, birds and many insects. One thing you should know is that if you know you have Opossums around, do not let cat nor dog food lieing around as these animals will indulge in a free meal anytime.
Another unusual part of the Opossum diet is the eating of ticks. They consume more black legged ticks than any other animal on the planet. The black legged tick is what spreads Lyme disease. Lyme disease causes a bacterial infection in humans and animals.
If you corner an opossum, chances are you will hear a dreadful hissing from the animal. this hissing is to tell you that, hey, "i am dangerous and if you come any closer i will make dinner out of you." But the Opossum hiss is bigger than it's bite. So after long snarling and hissing and it sees that the enemy is not backing down, it will simply drop dead! Well, it will begin to play opossum. Opossum plays dead when they are in danger as the last line of defense.
Why Opossums Play Dead
To Trick The Predator
When hunting, predators prefer to have live meat. Most predators need to kill their prey before the eat it, their feeding stimulus is triggered by the act of bringing down they prey. Many predators will not feed if they have not brought down the meal themselves. Some animals that play did gives off a very bad smell like rotting meat and this also helps to deter the animal from being eaten.
It May Also Be triggered by Fright
This is called Tonic immobility. It is an involuntary reflex where a creature goes through paralysis and appears to be dead. Tonic mobility is triggered by any event which causes sudden fear and anxiety, triggering a sensory overload in the animals brain. This overload causes the brain to temporarily shutdown to prevent any real damage to itself. When the perceived fear has passed most animals' brains will reboot and they will awaken.
Opossums And Rabies
Reproduction and Gestation
Most marsupials have a fork shaped penis. This is to accommodate the female marsupials. The female marsupial reproductive system has a very short uterus before branching into the two Fallopian tubes. Since the female has two Fallopian tubes, it is only natural that the male marsupial is able to fertilize eggs in both tubes, hence a forked penis. When the Opossum gets pregnant, it can give birth to 15-20 or more baby opossums. The gestation period is a whopping 12-13 days after mating! The opossum holds the record for the shortest gestation period for all North American mammals. Because female opossums have very short uterus's, the baby opossums do not spend a lot of time growing inside so they emerge early and continue their development inside the marsupial's pouch.