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Home » Blog » 10 Essential Facts About Opossums: Unveiling the Mysteries of America's Native Marsupial

10 Essential Facts About Opossums: Unveiling the Mysteries of America's Native Marsupial

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Opossums, often simply called possums, are among the most unique and misunderstood creatures in North America. Their distinct appearance and behaviors contribute to a fascinating ecological profile that sets them apart from other wildlife. Here, we delve into ten fun facts about possums that shed light on their habits, benefits, and the essential role they play in our ecosystems.

1. Exceptional Immunity and Disease Control

Opossums are remarkably resistant to many diseases that affect other mammals. Notably, they are immune to rabies due to their low body temperature. This characteristic makes them less of a health risk compared to other wildlife. Additionally, opossums help control the spread of Lyme disease by consuming ticks in large quantities. It is estimated that a single opossum can eat up to 5000 ticks in a season, significantly reducing the risk of Lyme disease in their habitats.

2. Diet and Foraging Habits: The Omnivorous Scavenger

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Opossums have an omnivorous diet, which includes fruits, nuts, insects, small animals, and even carrion. This varied diet allows them to adapt to different environments, from wooded areas to urban settings. Their role as scavengers is beneficial as it helps keep the environment clean and free of decaying matter and pests.

3. Unique Physical Features: A Prehensile Tail and More

One of the most distinctive features of opossums is their prehensile tail. This flexible tail acts like an extra limb, allowing them to grasp and stabilize themselves as they climb trees and navigate through branches. Additionally, opossums have a remarkable number of teeth, 50 in total, which is more than any other North American mammal. This dental abundance helps them consume a wide range of foods.

4. "Playing Possum": A Unique Defense Mechanism

Opossums are famous for their ability to "play dead" when threatened. This behavior, scientifically known as thanatosis, involves the opossum falling into a temporary catatonic state that can last from a few minutes to several hours. Predators often lose interest in the seemingly lifeless opossum, allowing it to escape when the danger has passed. This involuntary reaction is complemented by the release of a foul-smelling fluid from their anal glands, further deterring predators.

5. Reproductive Traits and Maternal Care

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Opossums have fascinating reproductive traits. They are marsupials, meaning the females have a pouch where the newborns continue to develop after birth. Female opossums can give birth to up to 20 babies in one litter, but due to the limited number of teats in their pouch (usually around 13), not all newborns survive. The young opossums stay in the pouch for about two months before transitioning to riding on their mother's back for another few weeks.

6. Nocturnal Lifestyle: Masters of the Night

Opossums are primarily nocturnal, active mostly during the night. Their large, dark eyes are well-adapted to seeing in low light conditions, aiding them in foraging and navigation. This nocturnal behavior helps them avoid many predators and reduces competition for food with diurnal species.

7. Habitat Flexibility and Urban Adaptation

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Opossums are highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of habitats, from dense forests to urban areas. Their adaptability extends to their diet and nesting habits, allowing them to live close to humans. They often take refuge in attics, sheds, and under porches, which, while making them seem like pests, also highlights their capability to coexist in altered environments. When dealing with opossums in urban settings, it's essential to approach their removal humanely. Professional and humane wildlife removal companies ensure that these fascinating creatures are relocated safely and effectively. For example, Critter Stop provides high-quality work and exceptional customer service for all your wildlife concerns.

8. Longevity and Health: A Short but Eventful Life

Typically, opossums live for about two to four years in the wild. Their life span is relatively short due to predation and the challenges of their environment. However, during their brief lives, they play a significant role in their ecosystems as pest controllers and as prey for larger animals. Despite their short lifespan, they are robust and hardy animals, with few health issues thanks to their strong immune system.

9. The Misunderstood Marsupial: Dispelling Myths

Opossums are often misunderstood and maligned due to their appearance and scavenging habits. Contrary to common beliefs, they are not aggressive and seldom pose a threat to humans or pets. They are solitary creatures and prefer to avoid confrontations. Understanding these facts can help foster a more harmonious relationship between humans and opossums, recognizing their beneficial roles rather than fearing them as nuisances.

10. Conservation Status and Environmental Impact

10 facts about possums, are possums smart, fun facts about possums

While opossums are currently not endangered and are, in fact, widespread across their range, they are impacted by habitat loss and climate change. Protecting their habitats and understanding their ecological roles is crucial for maintaining biodiversity. Their presence in ecosystems can be an indicator of environmental health, as they contribute to the balance by controlling insect and rodent populations.

In conclusion, opossums are remarkable creatures that deserve recognition for their unique characteristics and the ecological benefits they provide. By understanding and appreciating these native marsupials, we can better support their coexistence in our shared environments.

If you need help managing opossums or other wildlife, Critter Stop is your go-to solution for humane and effective removal. With a five-star reputation and glowing customer reviews, our expert team will assist you in maintaining a safe and wildlife-friendly environment. We service commercial and residential customers in Texas and are fully licensed and insured. Contact Us at (214) 234-2616 and book your free inspection and estimate today!

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Lee Gorman
Lee Gorman
13:50 21 Nov 22
I’d give a 10 star review if I could! We had a great experience with Critter Stop. Everyone I dealt was friendly, professional, and reassuring. Phillip was very helpful and knowledgeable about the work he was doing. He walked me around the entire house to make sure I saw and understood the services he provided. He was also really nice and answered all my questions — he is exactly the type of person that should be interacting with customers.I love the fact that they will come back for up to 1 year after installation if any problems occur — this shows me they stand behind their work.The owner was great too, he personally came to my house and walked me through their offering. I recommend critter stop to anyone and everyone!
Susan Casey
Susan Casey
14:53 15 Nov 22
Critter Stop is a fantastic business! Everyone involved is extremely professional and very easy to communicate with. Chisam, the owner, did a great job of explaining the process to get the squirrels out of my attic during the initial free estimate. The exclusion crew who did all of the initial work was fabulous. The crew consisted of Phillip, Nick and Corey who arrived promptly when they said they would. They are happy, positive employees. Everyone is very polite and patient in explaining their work and answering questions. They came back several times to check the traps and finish it off with the fogging. Lester was very good about following up to schedule each trap check with me, and the office staff who took care of the billing was very efficient. Critter Stop is a well run company with honest, trustworthy employees! Thank you to all of you who worked hard to make my attic critter free and for the peace of mind that you guarantee your work. Great to know I can call them if for some reason a squirrel figures out a way to get back in!
Karen Eckholdt
Karen Eckholdt
14:54 22 Sep 22
Critter Stop has made this project easy and extremely professional from start to finish! They are very detailed and competent from start to finish and know so much about their business. They made a problem easy for us and at a reasonable cost. We would be happy to recommend this company and their owners and staff to anyone.
Aaron Echols
Aaron Echols
13:51 03 Aug 22
The guys at Critter Stop responded quickly, were very friendly, and gave us an honest estimate of what we might need. They explained why some items on other quotes were or were not necessary. They communicated well to get us scheduled, and did the work well and quickly. Great service at a fair and competitive price.
Jacob Scribner
Jacob Scribner
19:23 27 Jul 22
Brandon and his other coworker Gavin came to install insulation in my attic. I am very grateful for the hard work and professionalism. My house feels a lot better with the insulation installed. 5 star review. Cory Leach was also very nice and helpful. He came to my house to do another job and was very attentive and professional. Thank you Corey and thank you Critter Stop for helping me.The owner very polite and helpful, I’m glad I found this company to help me.
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