Virginia Opossum: (Didelphis virginiana)
Virginia opossum (didelphis virginiana) belongs to the didelphidae family; they are commonly known as opossum and possum. Opossums are the size of a domestic cat, averaging between 13 to 37 inches long, the tail is 8.5 to 19 inches long and they weighing between 8 to 14 pounds . Although the males are usually larger than the females.
Virginia opossums have grayish color fur with a mix of black under fur. Its head is long and pointed, their ears are small and round. Its face is white with long whiskers, a pink pointed nose and small beady eyes. Its tail is long and bare. Their legs are short; its feet has 5 digits, the back feet have grasping inner opposable thumbs. Virginia opossums are found throughout most of the United States, including Florida, however you will not find them in Australia. The Virginia opossum has no relationship to Australia’s opossum. They are the only species of marsupial that is found outside of Australia and its surrounding islands. They primarily inhabit areas such as woods, fields with trees, watersides, farms, towns and cities. These creatures are adaptable to almost any environment.
Opossums primarily consume nuts, eggs, insects, frogs, mice, rattlesnakes, fish, worms, fruits, vegetable and pet food. Basically consuming any food available.
Virginia opossums are shy and solitary. When they are threatened they will often his, growl, bare its teeth or play dead. They rarely attack. They are famous for playing dead by rolling over, motionless, with the tongue hanging out until the threat leaves, then it revives itself resuming its activities. Opossums can play dead for hours despite the fact if its being poked by sticks or even pushed or sniffed by other animals. Opossums are excellent climbers, walking in slow, ambling way. In the wild opossums have short life spans; ranging from 2 to 4 years. The opossums also has the capability to use its tail as an limb, allowing them to hang from trees. Opossums are more of a nuisance by scattering garbage, eating bird seed or pet food.
Opossums can breed as early as 1 year old which is usually between December through July. They usually have 2 litters a year, producing 18 to 25 each litter, however only 13 can survive because there is only 13 teats in the pouch. Its gestation period lasts approximately 13 to 14 days, then the young at which time the young will crawl from the birth canal into the mothers pouch and remain in the pouch for another 60 days. Once the young reach about 2 months they begin to hang on the mothers back or tail. The young will leave the mother once they reach the age of 4 months. The opossum is Florida’s only animal that has a pouch containing the mammary glands and serves as a holding receptacle for its young.
Opossums are known to carry diseases like leptospirosis, tuberculosis, relapsing fever, tularemia, spotted fever, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis, and trichomoniasis. It is unlikely opossums are infected with rabies
because of their body temperatures being low, but its not impossible.