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Home » Blog » Possum vs Opossum Pictures: An In-Depth Look

Possum vs Opossum Pictures: An In-Depth Look

Possum vs Opossum Pictures An In-Depth Look

When we talk about wildlife in North America, two creatures often cause confusion due to their similar names: possums and opossums. While these animals share some similarities, they belong to different families and exhibit distinct characteristics. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the differences and similarities between possums and opossums, enhanced with captivating pictures to provide a clearer understanding.

Introduction to Possums and Opossums

possum vs opossum pictures

What are Possums?

Possums are marsupials native to Australia, New Guinea, and Sulawesi. They belong to the order Diprotodontia and the family Phalangeridae. Possums are known for their nocturnal habits, meaning they are most active during the night. They have thick, bushy tails and soft fur, which can vary in color from grey to brown.

What are Opossums?

Opossums are marsupials found primarily in the Americas, particularly in the United States, Canada, and Central America. The most well-known species is the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana). Opossums belong to the order Didelphimorphia and are recognized for their naked tails, which resemble those of rats, and their ability to play dead—a defense mechanism known as thanatosis.

Physical Differences Between Possums and Opossums

opossum vs possum images

Body Structure

Possums have a rounder body with a short neck, giving them a compact and stout appearance. They also have a prehensile tail, which they use for grasping branches and aiding in their arboreal lifestyle.

Opossums, on the other hand, have a slimmer body with a longer snout and a more pronounced sagittal crest on their skull. Their tails are less bushy and more rat-like, with a scaly texture that is not as well-suited for gripping.

Fur and Coloration

The fur of possums tends to be softer and thicker, providing insulation against the cooler climates of their native habitats. They come in various shades, often displaying a grey or brown coat with a white underbelly.

Opossums have coarser fur, which is typically greyish-white, although it can sometimes appear more brownish. Their facial fur is usually lighter, almost white, with distinct black eyes and pink noses.

Behavioral Traits

Dietary Preferences

Possums are generally herbivorous, feeding on a diet that includes leaves, fruits, and flowers. However, they can also consume small insects and birds if necessary.

Opossums are omnivorous and have a more varied diet that includes fruits, grains, insects, small mammals, and even carrion. They are also known to scavenge human garbage, which often brings them into conflict with people.

Habitat Preferences

Possums prefer forest habitats, where they can climb trees and find ample food sources. They are arboreal by nature and have adapted to life in the trees.

Opossums are more adaptable and can live in various environments, from forests to urban areas. They are often found in wooded areas, near water sources, and in suburban neighborhoods.

Reproductive Habits

Both possums and opossums are marsupials, meaning they carry and nurse their young in pouches. However, their reproductive cycles differ.

Possums generally have a longer gestation period and give birth to fewer offspring at a time. Their young are born underdeveloped and continue to grow in the mother's pouch for several months.

Opossums have a shorter gestation period of about 12-14 days and can give birth to large litters of up to 20 young. However, not all of them survive, as the mother only has 13 teats to nurse them.

Interesting Facts and Misconceptions


Possums in Australian Culture

In Australia, possums are often seen as cute and harmless animals. They are protected by law, and many Australians enjoy watching them in their gardens. Possums are also a common feature in Australian folklore and children's stories.

Opossums and Their Defense Mechanisms

One of the most fascinating aspects of opossum behavior is their ability to play dead. When threatened, an opossum can enter a catatonic state, which can last from a few minutes to several hours. This act of playing dead, or thanatosis, deters predators by making the opossum appear unappetizing.

Misunderstood Creatures

Both possums and opossums are often misunderstood and seen as pests. However, they play crucial roles in their ecosystems. Possums help control insect populations and pollinate plants, while opossums are effective at controlling ticks and other pests.

Visual Gallery: Possums vs Opossums


Possum Pictures

  1. Brushtail Possum: A common possum species with a bushy tail and grey fur.
  2. Ringtail Possum: Noted for its prehensile tail and smaller size.
  3. Pygmy Possum: A tiny species that is incredibly agile and cute.

Opossum Pictures

  1. Virginia Opossum: The most well-known species in North America with a greyish-white body.
  2. Common Opossum: Found in Central America, known for its scavenging habits.
  3. White-Eared Opossum: Distinguished by its white ear tips and darker body fur.

With these two explanations, you can clearly get an understanding of opossum vs possum images. 

Conservation and Coexistence

Protecting Possums

In Australia, conservation efforts are in place to protect possum habitats. Urban development often threatens their natural environments, and many organizations work towards creating safe corridors and preserving green spaces.

Opossum Rehabilitation

In North America, opossum rehabilitation centers are crucial for rescuing and caring for injured or orphaned opossums. These centers educate the public about the importance of opossums and promote coexistence.

Encouraging Human-Wildlife Harmony

Both possums and opossums often find themselves in close proximity to human habitation, leading to encounters that are sometimes less than harmonious. To ensure peaceful coexistence, it is essential to adopt humane approaches and understand the behaviors of these creatures.

Humane Possum Control Methods

Possums can sometimes become a nuisance, particularly when they take up residence in roofs or attics. Here are some humane ways to manage possum populations and prevent conflicts:

  1. Secure Your Home: Ensure that all entry points, such as vents and gaps in the roof, are sealed. Possums are excellent climbers and can easily find their way into cozy, warm spaces.
  2. Use Possum Deterrents: Natural repellents such as garlic, hot peppers, and predator scents can be effective in keeping possums at bay. Additionally, motion-activated lights and sprinklers can discourage their nighttime activities.
  3. Provide Alternative Habitats: Installing nest boxes in trees away from your home can offer possums an attractive alternative and keep them out of human structures.

Humane Opossum Management Strategies

Opossums are generally beneficial creatures, but their scavenging habits can sometimes lead to issues. Here’s how to manage opossums humanely:

  1. Secure Garbage Cans: Use tight-fitting lids on garbage cans and store them in a secure area to prevent opossums from foraging in your trash.
  2. Remove Food Sources: Eliminate pet food, birdseed, and fallen fruit from your yard. These are major attractants for opossums.
  3. Provide Shelter: Offering a safe, designated space for opossums to live, such as a woodpile or a specially designed opossum house, can help manage their presence in a controlled manner.

Educational Outreach and Community Involvement

Raising awareness about the ecological roles and behaviors of possums and opossums is crucial. Communities can benefit from educational programs that teach residents how to coexist with wildlife. Schools, local governments, and wildlife organizations can work together to provide resources and workshops on humane wildlife management.

The Role of Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers

Wildlife rehabilitation centers play a vital role in caring for injured and orphaned possums and opossums. These centers provide medical care, rehabilitation, and, when possible, release animals back into their natural habitats. Supporting these centers through donations, volunteering, and advocacy can make a significant difference in the lives of these animals.

FAQs About Possums and Opossums

What should I do if I find a baby possum or opossum?

If you find a baby possum or opossum, it’s essential to handle the situation with care. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Observe from a Distance: Sometimes, the mother is nearby and will return for her young. Keep an eye on the situation without intervening immediately.
  2. Check for Injuries: If the baby is visibly injured or in immediate danger, contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center for guidance.
  3. Provide Warmth: If you need to intervene, keep the baby warm and secure until professional help arrives.

Are possums and opossums dangerous to pets?

Possums and opossums are generally not aggressive towards pets. However, interactions should be minimized to prevent stress or injury. Ensure your pets are supervised when outside, and secure any potential food sources that might attract these animals.

Can possums and opossums transmit diseases to humans?

While possums and opossums can carry diseases, the risk of transmission to humans is low. Proper hygiene and avoiding direct contact with wild animals can mitigate any potential risks. Always wash your hands after handling or cleaning areas where wildlife has been present.

How can I tell the difference between a possum and an opossum?

The primary differences lie in their physical characteristics and geographical locations. Possums are native to Australia and surrounding regions, have bushy tails, and soft fur. Opossums, native to the Americas, have naked, rat-like tails, and coarser fur. Observing these traits can help you identify which animal you’re dealing with.

Opossum Control for Residential Areas

Given the significant role opossums play in ecosystems, it is crucial to address their presence in residential areas humanely and effectively. This is where Critter Stop comes into play. 

Critter Stop is a professional wildlife removal company with a stellar reputation for high-quality work and excellent customer service. Their humane methods ensure that opossums and other wildlife are removed from your property safely and efficiently.

Choosing Critter Stop will provide you with:

  • High-Quality Work: Critter Stop is known for their meticulous and effective wildlife control solutions.
  • Great Customer Service: With numerous positive reviews online, Critter Stop excels in customer satisfaction, providing personalized and responsive service.
  • Humane Methods: They prioritize humane wildlife removal, ensuring minimal harm to the animals while effectively addressing your pest control needs.
  • Expertise: Critter Stop's team of professionals is well-trained in handling a wide range of wildlife, including opossums, ensuring your home remains free from unwanted critters.

If you are experiencing issues with opossums or other wildlife in your home, contact Critter Stop for comprehensive and humane wildlife control services. 

Their expertise and commitment to quality make them the best choice for residential wildlife control in North Texas.

Contact us at (214) 234-2616 to get a free estimate of our services.

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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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