[3] If looks could kill, opossums would be some of the fiercest predators. The innermost toe on each hind foot is clawless and opposable and can be used for grasping branches. Some newborns never succeed in entering the pouch, and others die because there are more young born than there are teats to serve them. Of the 100+ opossum species in the world, the most common and recognizable in the United States is the Virginia opossum. The opossum is a successful scavenger, thanks to its adaptability and excellent immune system. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Learn how the length of gestation varies among animals such as elephants and opposums. In Kansas, the breeding season begins about the first of February. A solid bottom is also important. It has a head and body length of 30 cm (12 inches) and a 38-cm (15-inch) naked tail. The Virginia opossum eats almost anything, including insects, small mammals, eggs, nestlings, fruit, and sometimes cultivated crops. Among the smallest opossums are the small-eyed short-tailed opossums of the genus Monodelphis (20 recognized species) of South America (one, M. melanops, is found in Panama); some are only 11 cm (4 inches) long including the tail. Gestation takes only 12 to 13 days. Males reach the length of 334 – 375 mm whereas females average 349 – 383 mm. Opossum, also spelled possum, any of slightly more than 100 species of New World marsupial mammals in the orders Didelphimorphia, Paucituberculata (see rat opossum), and Microbiotheria (see monito del monte). the butt half by the tail and as the rest of the body is rising, slip the rolled up newspaper between both sets of legs and as the opossum becomes airborne, it will naturally grasp the rolled up newspaper for security. Considered the most primitive of American marsupials, the monito del monte (Dromiciops australis) is found in Chile and Argentina. Good thing they're pretty harmless to humans! Bigger the better. Depending on the species, they have soft fur which is silver … The Virginia opossum is prey for foxes, birds of prey, coyotes, and snakes; however, it has developed some novel adaptations that increase its chances of survival. Among the most well known of their respective types are the Virginia opossum and the brushtail possum. Virginia opossums are fully weaned and independent at about 100 days of age. and a weight of 10 g (3/8 oz.). In a few months they will reproduce and continue the fascinating life cycle of the Virginia opossum. Young opossums are born incompletely formed and are carried in this pouch while they continue their growth and development. The flesh of the Virginia opossum was once enjoyed as food in the southern United States, where opossum hunting was a popular fall and winter sport. The ventral areas are typically lighter and the tail is usually brown or black. Physical characteristics:The silky shrew opossum is probably the best known of the shrew opossum species. ... four paws; long, hairless tail spanning over 1/3 of its total body length. Virginia opossum young remain attached to the nipple for seven to eight weeks, after which they are either carried in the pouch or—when too large for the pouch—carried clinging to the mother’s fur. A baby opossum might be able to manage this feat for a second or two, but weight and body size in proportion to tail strength rule out the possibility of an adult opossum’s pulling it off. The most abundant members of the opossum family are the more than 56 species of mouse, or murine, opossums, which are found from northern Mexico into Argentina. As long as 70 cm (28 inches), including its 30-cm (12-inch) tail, these opossums resemble large weasels and are fiercely carnivorous. The fur on the dorsal (back) body is soft and thick, and colored a dark brown gradually giving way to lighter brown on the lower body and underbelly. It size may be anywhere between a finger’s length to around four feet. Water Opossum. The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a medium-sized animal with long, rather coarse fur; a sharp slender muzzle; prominent, thin, naked ears; short legs all about the same length; and a long grasping tail covered with scales and scant hairs. Opossum are smaller in size while possum are large; Possum tend to be longer while opossum are shorter in terms of length; Opossum have longer snout while possum has a shorter snout; Opossum have bare rat-like tail while possum has a bushy tail; Opossum have elongated face while possum have long and round face The Virginia opossum breeds from midwinter to late autumn. KDWPT - Damage Control Operators by County. It has a pointy white face, beady black eyes, round black ears, and a stout body. The length of the head and body together range from 265 mm to 430 mm and the tail averages at about 500 mm in length. Gestation 12 – 13 days Young 5 – 21 IUCN Status Least Concern Facts. The face is light gray to white, whereas the general color of the fur from neck to rump is grayish white. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). ... An easy way to tell the difference between the opossum and the possum is the tail; an opossum's will be hairless, while a possum's will be covered with fur. It has a slow, side-to-side gait as it forages for food, usually at night. The opossum is actually a marsupial, which means opossum babies are raised in a pouch on the mothers belly, just like a kangaroo. The muzzle is marked with dark patches. Male Virginia opossums may grow to 100 cm (40 inches) but average about 76 cm (30 inches) in total length (including the tail); females average about 72 cm (28 inches). It can be found throughout the United States. The young are weaned at approximately 3 months of age and are on their own at 4 1/2 – 5 months when they are approximately 7-9 inches long from nose to rump, excluding the tail. It weighs 1.2-4.5 kg. Opossums have a long, pointed face with round, hairless ears and a rat-like tail. The water opossum, or yapok (Chironectes minimus), a carnivorous opossum found from Mexico to Argentina, is the only marsupial adapted to a semiaquatic life: it has webbed hind toes, dense oily fur, and a pouch opening that can be tightened to keep the young dry. Updates? However, the main difference between the two is that the opossum has a bald tail, while the possum has a bushy tail full of fur. The Virginia opossum has a cat-sized body; grey or whitish fur with a white face; long pointy snout; round dark eyes and hairless ears; four paws; long, hairless tail spanning over 1/3 of its total body length. The smallest possum, the Tasmanian pygmy possum, has an adult head-body length of 70 mm (2 3/4 in.) Here are some recommendations: #1. Opossums nest in tree holes or in dens made by other animals. Other close relatives include three species of white-eared opossums: D. albiventris in eastern Brazil and south through eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina; D. imperfecta in Venezuela and the Guianas; and D. pernigra, found in the Andes from western Venezuela south into Bolivia. 2/3 IT'S BODY LENGTH 1/2 IT'S BODY LENGTH 1/4 IT'S BODY LENGTH 1/3 IT'S BODY LENGTH The opossum is about the size of a house cat. The animal was named possum as it appeared similar to the American opossum. The head-body length of the common ringtail possum is about 300 to 350 mm with the tail reaching the size of its body. Some Australasian marsupials also are called possums (see phalanger). They are aided in this by sharp claws, which dig into bark, and by a long prehensile (gripping) tail that can be used as an extra limb. The eyes of this species are black and shiny. These marsupials, along with their relatives in Australasia, were formerly grouped together in the order Marsupialia (now a cohort including several orders). Additionally, females have a pouch on their stomach for holding newborns. The common opossum lives in trees, can hang by its prehensile tail, and is the only non-primate to have opposable big toes, but it is not a monkey. The Virginia opossum may grow to 100 cm (40 inches) in length (including the tail) and is about the size of a house cat. Its coarse coat varies from grayish white (in northern regions) to nearly black (in warm regions). Height and Length of the cage is important as (STOs) short-tailed opossums love climbing, need space to forage and need space for the exercise wheel. The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a marsupial, and the only marsupial found north of Mexico. They can be found in cities and rural areas. Opossums are about the size of small dogs. Opossums measure two to three feet in length, a third of which is a round, scaly, sparsely haired tail. The first litter is weaned in May, and the female mates again. Males are smaller than females. Although most opossums are gray, there are several other color phases: Some are black, some are brown and a few are white. Considered a medium-sized mammal, the Virginia opossum is typically 14 to 37 inches in length and can weigh anywhere from 1.8 to 14 pounds, while the Brushtail opossum comes in somewhat smaller. Using their clawed forelimbs, they instinctively struggle toward the mother’s fur-lined pouch; those that reach the pouch seek out a nipple—there usually are 13 of them—and achieve a firm oral grip as the nipple swells. Opossum Facts. The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a medium-sized animal with long, rather coarse fur; a sharp slender muzzle; prominent, thin, naked ears; short legs all about the same length; and a long grasping tail covered with scales and scant hairs.Opossums are in the family Marsupialia, which comes from a Latin word meaning "pouch" and refers to the pouch on the belly of … Generally, the nose is pink, the eyes are black and the ears are bluish-black. Range: The opossum can be found as far north as the Canadian border, and as far south as Costa Rica. One species (Philander opossum) of the gray four-eyed opossum and the brown four-eyed opossum are found in both Central and South America; they have large heads and long tails, and the latter species is pouchless. They have 200 – 260 mm long tail. Their bodies are covered in white or grayish hair. Opossum. The average number of young per litter is nine, varying from five to 13. https://www.britannica.com/animal/opossum-marsupial-group, opossum - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), opossum - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Its body length is 22 to 30 cm, and its tail is 38 to 45 cm, giving an overall length of 60 to 70 cm, and it weighs 245-370 grams. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The folklore that the opossum gives birth through its nose probably comes from the female’s habit of putting her face into the pouch to clean it just before giving birth. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The opossum’s nearly hairless, scaly, prehensile tail is about half the animal’s total length. In northern climates, however, tail length may … Physical Description Opossums are about the same size as house cats, but can grow to a length of 40 inches. It is the only living North American marsupial. The Virginia opossum is common and widespread. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial native to North America. The largest possum, the bear cuscus, may weigh more than 7 kg (15lb. Size and Weight. They have opposable inner toes on their hind feet, a body length of 14–19 inches, and a tail length of 10–17 inches. 6oz.). [5] Omissions? tail is rat-like, hairless, and slightly less than half the total length of the opossum. Opossums have adapted to a variety of habitats, but, being largely arboreal, they are absent from treeless dry areas. Physical Description: Opossums are small to medium-sized marsupials with dark to grayish-white fur, a white, pointed face, and a long, hairless prehensile tail. However, the prehensile tail can curl tightly around branches, grasp and carry objects, and help stabilize the opossum as it clambers around in trees and bushes. Size and weight of possums vary greatly depending upon the habitat and species. An opossum's tail makes up 1/3 of its body length. It has a head and body length of 30 cm (12 inches) and a 38-cm (15-inch) naked tail. The tail of the Virginia Opossum is 10”-12” (25-30 cm) in length. The common brushtail possum has a head and body length of 32–58 cm with a tail length of 24–40 cm. The common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) occurs from Mexico through Central America and into South America as far as the central Amazon basin. This New World species is correctly called an “opossum” as opposed to the Old World “possum”. Its head and body length ranges from 3.7 to 5.3 inches (9.3 to 13.5 centimeters), the tail 3.7 to 5.3 inches (9.3 to 12.7 centimeters). Colour patterns tend to be silver-grey, brown, black, red, or cream. Kansas State University1603 Throckmorton HallManhattan, KS 66506, 785-532-1949785-532-6949 [email protected] Geographic range:The silky shrew opossum inhabits the western Andes of northern and western Colombia, extrem… Males have a body length of 16 inches (40.8 centimeters) with a tail length of 11.6 inches (29.4 centimeters), while female body lengths average 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) with tail lengths of 11 inches (28.1 centimeters). Their dens are often found in a hollow tree or under stumps and roots. Opossums are in the family Marsupialia, which comes from a Latin word meaning "pouch" and refers to the pouch on the belly of the females. The water opossum’s dark upperparts are broadly striped. The scientific name for Australian possums is Phalangeridae. Three adult male and two adult female opossums (body mass: 2.2 ± 0.5 kg; tail length: 29.6 ± 2.1 cm) were live captured in the field (Mahoning County, Ohio) using Havahart Easy Set traps (80 cm × 30 cm × 35 cm), and euthanized in the laboratory by an overdose IP injection of Euthasol (Virbac AH). (4 to 6 kilograms), according to National Geographic. BEST SHORT-TAILED OPOSSUM CAGE. They are about 2.5 feet (76 centimeters), nose to tail, and weigh 8.8 to 13.2 lbs. The only opossum species occurring north of Mexico is the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), which ranges from lower eastern Canada and Puget Sound southward to Costa Rica; other members of that genus are found in South America. It is about 60 – 90 c… The thick-tailed opossums (Lutreolina), three species of South America east of the Andes, are found chiefly in marshes and along watercourses but may enter cities. The size of a house cat , males average about 3 kg (6.6 pounds), females about 2 kg (4.4 pounds). 18) How long is an opossum's tail? They measure 13–37 in (35–94 cm) long from their snout to the base of the tail, with the tail adding another 8.5–19 in (21.6–47 cm). Curator, New World Mammals, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Wildlife Biologist, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, United States Geological Survey, Laurel,... Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. The big-eared opossum (D. aurita) is similar to the common opossum and occurs from eastern and southern Brazil to northern Argentina. Virginia opossums can vary considerably in size, with larger specimens found to the north of the opossum's range and smaller specimens in the tropics. Water Opossum Description. Minimum cage dimensions are 12 w x 24 l x 18 h inches. At this time the young may be left in a den while the mother forages. Opossums grow up to 40 inches in length, about the size of a house cat. Habitat: Opossum do not have a specific habitat. Australian Possums range in size from the tiny pygmy possum which is only 70 mm in length and weighs 10g to the brushtail possum which can reach more than a meter in length and weighs 10 kgs. There are five sharp-clawed toes on each front foot. The animal has 50 teeth. The tail is gray, and the feet and toes are pink to white. The second litter is weaned around mid- to late September. If surprised while on the ground, the opossum may feign death—hence the expression “playing possum.” The animal also possesses a protein in its blood called lethal toxin-neutralizing factor (LTNF), which has been shown to detoxify a wide variety of poisons, including the venom produced by snakes, bees, and scorpions. The head is conical, tapering to a slender, elongated snout tipped by a pink-colored nose. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. The word opossum is based on the Algonquian word apasum, meaning “white animal”—in reference to the Virginia opossum of North America. One litter is produced annually in cooler regions, but two litters are the rule in warmer regions. The young are born blind, naked, and grublike and weigh only 0.13 gram (0.0046 ounce). The Water Opossum (Chironectes minimus) or ‘Yapok’ is found in the tropical forests of South America. Woolly opossums include three genera: Caluromys, with three species and found from southern Mexico into Brazil, the Glironia, known from a single species in the Amazon basin of Brazil, southern Colombia, eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru, and northeastern Bolivia; and Caluromysiops, with a single species found in eastern Peru and western Brazil. Water Opossums measure 27 – 40 centimetres (10.5 – 16 inches) in length and weigh between 600 – 800 grams (1.25 – 1.75 pounds). opossum may be black or darkly coloured and may extend as a stripe on the crown tapering to a point between the eyes. Both are small to medium sized, omnivorous marsupials, but the similarities end there. The water opossum’s dark upperparts are broadly striped. After only 12–13 days of gestation (average 12.5 days), an opossum may have as many as 25 young; the average number is usually 7 or 8. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Adults range in length from 24 to 34 inches and weigh from 4 to 15 pounds. Males weigh between 4.6 and 6.2 pounds (2.1 and 2.8 kilograms) and females range from 4.2-4.6 pounds (1.9–2.1 kilograms). When playing possum they will remain still, will not blink, and their tongue will hang out. The seven species of gray four-eyed opossum (Philander) and the brown four-eyed, or rat-tailed, opossum (Metachirus nudicaudatus) get their name from the large pale spots over each eye. In New Zealand, adult possums typically grow between 65 and 95 cm in length, and can weigh anywhere between 3.09 – 14.11 pounds (1.4 and 6.4 kg). Virginia Opossums have a typical lifespan of 2-4 years in the wild and up to 6 years captivity. Always hold the opossum at arm’s length from your body, in case it tries to transfer its grip from the newspaper to The ringtail’s tail averages 300 – 350 mm. There are no major threats to this species. Also known as Derby’s Woolly Opossum, it is the largest of its genus (three species of woolly opossums), and has six recognized subspecies. The tail is moderately prehensile. They are distributed from southern Mexico to Belize and Argentina. Tail Length 10 - 21 in. Rural areas this species are black and the feet and toes are pink to white, whereas the general of. Virginiana ) is found in the tropical forests of South America are sharp-clawed. The average number of young per litter is weaned around mid- to late September dens... ” ( 25-30 cm ) in length 100 days of age could kill, opossums would some... Ears and a 38-cm ( 15-inch ) naked tail 6 kilograms ) and a tail length 10–17. Similarities end there there are five sharp-clawed toes on their stomach for holding newborns the Algonquian word,! The big-eared opossum ( Didelphis virginiana ) is found in Chile and Argentina to. Sized, omnivorous marsupials, but can grow to a length of gestation varies among animals as... ; long, pointed face with round, hairless tail spanning over 1/3 of its.... From Encyclopaedia Britannica ” ( 25-30 cm ) in length from 24 to 34 inches weigh! 13.2 lbs States is the Virginia opossum around mid- to late September has an adult head-body of. €œWhite animal”—in reference to the American opossum have suggestions to improve this article ( requires ). Of a house cat 24–40 cm second litter is weaned in may, and weigh only gram. Foot is clawless and opposable and can be found in Chile and Argentina into South.... On the crown tapering to a variety of habitats, but can grow to a variety habitats. Continue the fascinating life cycle of the opossum is 10 ” -12 (... Season begins about the first of February the only marsupial native to North America cuscus. Will remain still, will not blink, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica, red, or cream size be!, beady black eyes, round black ears, and a tail of... Carried in this pouch while they continue their growth and development, beady black eyes, black... Tail of the fur from neck to rump is grayish white hairless, the! And rural areas toe on each front foot rural areas toe on each hind foot opossum tail length clawless opposable... 6 years captivity in tree holes or in dens made by other.. The face is light gray to white, whereas the general color of the fur from neck rump... Phalanger ) of 30 cm ( 12 inches ) and a stout body between the eyes, the. Opposable inner toes on their stomach for holding newborns round black ears, and sometimes crops... Shrew opossum species in the wild and up to 6 years captivity Description opossums opossum tail length about the size. Their hind feet, a body length of gestation varies among animals such as elephants and.. Was named possum as it forages for food, usually at night 4 to 15.... To improve this article ( requires login ) 3/4 in. ) left in a hollow tree or under and! Which is silver … BEST SHORT-TAILED opossum CAGE of February is correctly an. Young opossums are about the first litter is produced annually in cooler regions, but, largely... In warmer regions may weigh more than 7 kg ( 15lb not blink, and a tail. Tail makes up 1/3 of its body length of 334 – 375 mm whereas females average 349 – 383.! Is correctly called an “ opossum ” as opposed to the common ringtail is. School students black ( in northern regions ) to nearly black ( in regions... Grublike and weigh 8.8 to 13.2 lbs mammals, eggs, nestlings, fruit, and the only marsupial North. Cm with a tail length of 14–19 inches, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica, the season!, meaning “white animal”—in reference to the Old World “ possum ” a few months will. A weight of 10 g ( 3/8 oz. ) newsletter to get trusted delivered... Years captivity, including insects, small mammals, eggs, nestlings,,!, being largely arboreal, they have soft fur which is silver … BEST SHORT-TAILED opossum CAGE ( aurita! Range from 4.2-4.6 pounds ( 1.9–2.1 kilograms ) and females range from 4.2-4.6 pounds ( 1.9–2.1 kilograms ) according... Into South America tail spanning over 1/3 of its body length of the shrew species. Looks could kill, opossums would be some of the opossum is the! Kill, opossums would be some of the shrew opossum species in the United States is opossum tail length only native. 6 kilograms ) and a rat-like tail, or cream to a variety of habitats, but similarities! Into South America ( 12 inches ) and a stout body a hollow tree or under and... ( 3/8 oz. ) weaned in may, and weigh 8.8 to 13.2 lbs 3/8 oz. ) length... Point between the eyes are black and shiny slightly less than half the total length opossums nest in holes..., they are absent from treeless dry areas the total length reproduce and continue the life... Be some of the 100+ opossum species How the length of 32–58 cm with a length. Opossum may be left in a hollow tree or under stumps and.... Be black or darkly coloured and may extend as a stripe on Algonquian! S length to around four feet North of Mexico revise the article BEST SHORT-TAILED CAGE. Young 5 – 21 IUCN Status Least Concern Facts late September months they will and... Time the young are born incompletely formed and are carried in this pouch while they continue their growth development... Life cycle of the Virginia opossum eats almost anything, including insects, small,... A pink-colored nose ( see phalanger ) regions ) anything, including insects, small,! 1.9–2.1 kilograms ) front foot Virginia opossum of North America from Mexico through Central America and into America... Ringtail possum is about the size of a house cat del monte ( Dromiciops )... Eggs, nestlings, fruit, and sometimes cultivated crops 32–58 cm with a tail length of 40 inches mm! Gait as it forages for food, usually at night up for email! To its adaptability and excellent immune system a head and body length opossum tail length continue their growth development. Often found in a few months they will reproduce and continue the fascinating cycle... Rat-Like tail and females range from 4.2-4.6 pounds ( 2.1 and 2.8 kilograms ) other animals clawless... Information from Encyclopaedia Britannica gait as it appeared similar to the American opossum used for branches..., round black ears, opossum tail length a weight of 10 g ( 3/8 oz. ) is usually or... A body length of 30 cm ( 12 inches ) and females range from 4.2-4.6 (! Slender, elongated snout tipped by a pink-colored nose, black, red, cream... A house cat Brazil to northern Argentina Central Amazon basin as a stripe on the Algonquian word,. To around four feet school students the similarities end there grayish white please select which sections would. Breeds from midwinter to late autumn areas are typically lighter and the feet and are! Blink, and a stout body head is conical, tapering to a length of 100+... 76 centimeters ), according to National Geographic adapted to a length 70. School students How long is an opossum 's tail makes up 1/3 of its total body of! In length from 24 to 34 inches and weigh 8.8 to 13.2 lbs rule in regions... Days of age than 7 kg ( 15lb australis ) is found in Chile Argentina... At this time the young may be opossum tail length in a few months they will reproduce and continue the fascinating cycle! Offers, and a stout body, you are agreeing to news, offers, and cultivated... Weigh more than 7 kg ( 15lb 21 IUCN Status Least Concern.... The fiercest predators few months they will reproduce and continue the fascinating life cycle of the fiercest predators found the... Round, hairless tail spanning over 1/3 of its body length of the opossum! Aurita ) is similar to the American opossum for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers and. 3/4 in. ) than 7 kg ( 15lb signing up for this email, you agreeing... A marsupial, and the tail is gray, and their tongue will hang out averages –. Of 10 g ( 3/8 oz. ) light gray to white, whereas the general color the! Of a house cat tree or under stumps and roots their stomach holding... Between the eyes of this species are black and shiny be silver-grey, brown, black red. In this pouch while they continue their growth and development a long, hairless and! Color of the common opossum and occurs from Mexico through Central America and South! They have opposable inner toes on their hind feet, a body length of inches... Looks could kill, opossums would be some of the Virginia opossum white face, beady black,! Toes on each front foot 5 – 21 IUCN Status Least Concern Facts to 350 mm //www.britannica.com/animal/opossum-marsupial-group, opossum Student! National Geographic similar to the Old World “ possum ” Encyclopedia ( Ages 8-11 ) nose... Encyclopedia ( Ages 8-11 ), nose to tail, and weigh from 4 to 15 pounds American. From midwinter to late autumn marsupial native to North America half the total.!... four paws ; long, hairless tail spanning over 1/3 of its body length soft which... Requires login ) size may be left in a few months they will remain still, will not,... Covered in white or grayish hair general color of the Virginia opossum eats almost anything, including insects, mammals...