Many individuals think that opossums are aggressive due to their large mouths and 50 sharp teeth! Actually, opossums are solitary, gentle and placid animals. They avoid confrontation! Adults are normally quite slow moving and will only open their mouth to show their teeth and hiss when fearful. They do not initiate aggression. They will retreat whenever possible.
Opossums are actually very beneficial to our neighborhoods. They are omnivores, so they eat both meat and plant. They are basically scavengers, cleaning up the rotten fruit and debris in our lawns, in addition to roadkill, etc. They will eat insects, snails, slugs, worms, berries, nuts, grass, leaves and pet food. They are quite adaptable and make due with whatever food and water is available. Pretty much every lawn has opossums walking around at night. Trust me, they are not a threat to you or your pets.
Adult opossums are about the size of an adult cat. The tail can be 9″ to 21″ long. They use their thick, prehensile tail to climb and sometimes to carry leaves, etc.. Opossums can live in trees and the adults can’t hang by their tails while they sleep. Opossums will make a den in any dark, quiet place. They do not put much effort into making a house.
Opossums are North America’s only marsupial mammal (female which has a pouch for carrying her young).
The Opossum’s breeding season is from February to June. They become adults and start breeding at 1 year old. They could have 1 – 2 litters per season, depending upon the climate. The gestation (time from conception to birth) is just 12 – 14 days. The mother has 13 teats and that is the maximum number of babies she can nurse. Usually, 13 babies won’t make it in the pouch and of those that do, only about 3 to 6 will make it to weaning age. The infants are born undeveloped embryos. They’re only about 1/4″ long and about the size of a Honey Bee. After they are born, they scoot into the mother’s pouch where they latch onto a teat. After the babies latch on, the teat swells and elongates and they remain there constantly.
The babies are weaned at 2-3 months old and are considered juveniles. They become independent of the mother when they are 6 – 12 months old and approximately 7″ to 10″ long. They become mating adults when they are 1 year old. The adult males are larger than the females.
The actual truth about “Playing Possum” is probably much different than you thought. When Opossums are really frightened, they go into an involuntary “shock – like” or “fainting state.” They first wake up by wiggling their ears.
When they are unconscious, they normally have an open mouth and seem to be dead.
Opossums just live 2 – 4 years. They have a good deal of predators! Between individuals, cars, dogs, cats, owls and bigger wildlife, opossums don’t survive very long.
So, the next time you see one roaming around at night, try and look the other way.
They really are not as bad as they seem. IF you require humane relocation of an Opossum you can contact Melbourne FL Raccoon Removal for assistance.