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Virginia Opossum


Virginia Opossum
About Opal:

Opal was found cold and wet in the middle of the street here in Morgan Hill. She was far too young to be on her own so WERC admitted her into our care. She was very lethargic and quite friendly around humans relative to what we are used to seeing in other opossum patients. Due to the nature of her being found, we suspected she was potentially raised by humans before we were able to admit her into our care. She has exhibited a friendly nature while she has grown and unfortunately, that behavior would impact her ability to thrive as a wild opossum. She now calls WERC home and we can educate about how truly amazing opossums are and why our environment needs them.

Virginia Opossum Map
Virginia Opossum Facts

Didelphis virginiana

Measurements:  Adults’ average length is about 28” from foot-long tail to nose.  Weight is about 4-5 pounds. [length range = 25-40”; weight range = 4-14 lbs]
Diet:  They are omnivorous mammals, eating carrion (road kill and other already dead food), snakes, insects (including worms, slugs and snails), fruit, etc.  Will also eat pet food and garbage that is left outside.  They do not dig up gardens or overturn garbage cans. Nocturnal (night hunting)

North America’s only marsupial animal—their babies are born very early and develop in the mother’s abdominal pouch, like the kangaroo and koala. They have 1 to 14 young at a time that attach themselves to the nipple for 2 months; 2 or 3 litters per year. Nest made with leaves in a hollow log, abandoned burrow or other sheltered place.

Opossums’ paws are dexterous and they are able to grasp branches and food.  Their hind feet have a thumb-like opposable toe without a nail.  They have a prehensile tail that helps them balance and keep from falling, but contrary to cartoons, adults do not hang from branches.  The tail is also used to carry nesting material (leaves, etc.).

Opossums have 50 teeth—more than any other animal.
They do not hibernate.  They are solitary animals.
Opossums are not aggressive:  If hissing and baring their teeth doesn’t scare away a predator, they will “play sick” by drooling and pooping; if that doesn’t work, they will “play dead”. Opossums very, very rarely carry rabies, due to their low body temperature.

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