Over the years we have shared numerous pictures of our opossums

Galileo painting

We have Virginia Opossums here at the Museum. They are the only marsupial in North America! There are 80 other species of opossum that live in South America and Australia. Fossils from opossums have been found dating back 65 million years!!


The Virginia Opossum lives only 2-4 years. During this very short lifespan it is constantly on the move for food and doesn’t have a territory. With 50 teeth they eat everything from slugs to berries and cat food to roaches. They have an opposable thumb on their back feet as well as a prehensile tail- everything you need to be aboreal. They are also noctural, often nest in tree hollows and can play “dead” as a defense. Opossums are far more resistant to rabies than any other animal. Females give birth 13 days after mating- the tiny baby has to make its way from the birth canal to its mother’s pouch. There it stays for 2-3 months and then spends another 1-2 riding on mom’s back before it’s ready to be on its own. Females can give birth up to twice a year.

Here are just a few species from Australia and South America:

      Brush Tailed Opossum can live up to 11 years and gives birth to one young at a time

Common brush-tailed opossum

       Ring Tailed Opossums have a specialized digestive system and eat leaves- even eucalyptus leaves.

by kookr
Ringtail opossum

Pygmy Opossums are nectar and insect eaters and are even know to torpor

Pygmy opossum


Fat Tailed Mouse Opossum who’s tail thickens seasonally due to the storage of fat

allows seed to remain viable after excretion

3 responses to Opossums

  1. td Whittle says:

    Nice photos, but you need to correct your page info. We do not have “opossums” in Australia. The true possum is indigenous to Australia and is entirely separate from the North American animal. This information is readily available, even on Wikipedia, but I would also expect that one of the marsupial specialists where you work should know this. From Wikipedia: A possum (plural form: possums) is any of about 70 small to medium-sized arboreal marsupial species native to Australia, New Guinea, and Sulawesi (and introduced to New Zealand and China).

  2. romell says:

    Hello I captured a possum in my trap and after freaking him out to death while after putting him in cage to lock door I must have spooked him from banging and he went into his comatose..for well over four hours do u think he had a heart attack?

    • Sherry Samuels says:

      stress can do a lot- even kill. In the “zoo” world “capture myopathy” does occur. Certainly a heart attack is possible.

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