Possum or Opossum?
Opossums are sometimes known as possums, which is actually the name for a different Australian marsupial. Possums are different animals than opossums, but the term is used nearly interchangeably in North America.
Though the opossum looks similar to a rat it is actually not a rodent at all. Opossums are marsupials and the only one located in North America. Their babies develop in their mother’s pouch and as they grow, ride on her back until they are old enough.
Opossums have a short lifespan of approximately 1-2 years. Much of this is due to the fact that they are not very quick and have many predators including dogs and cats. Human interaction also interferes with their longevity.
Opossums have many interesting features including 50 pointed teeth, which is the most of any North American land mammal. They are more likely to show them off in a scare tactic display than to use them for attacking. Another interesting feature is their opposable thumbs on their back feet for gripping branches. Opossum tails help them carry material, grasp branches, and balance.
Opossums are nocturnal creatures but may be active during daylight during winter months when it is more difficult to forage for food. Their activity depends on the food sources available to them and opossums may forage during the day regardless of season though. Opossums are omnivorous and insects, fruits, grains, small animals like frogs, and they are particularly fond of cat food.
Opossums are extremely resistant to rabies, unlike many other wild animals. If an opossum were to bite you, it would be very uncharacteristic and would be best to seek physician attention immediately as that behavior would indicate potential rabies threat.
If you find a opossum in your home or yard and it will not leave on its own, call pest control to have the animal removed immediately.