Physical Description


Opossums have a long head with a pointed snout and long  whiskers. Their long tails have little fur and are scaly in appearance.  Females have a fur-lined pouch in their belly in which they carry their  young.  Fur color varies depending on where they live. In northern  areas, they have thick white underfur with black tips, and on top of  this fur is a grayish protective coat of hair. Southern populations have  much less underfur. Most Virginia opossums have white cheek hairs.  Virginia opossums are about the size of a large house cat. 



This species is found in a variety of habitats, ranging from relatively  arid to mesic environments. They prefer wet areas, however, especially  woodlands and thickets near streams and swamps. Also in suburban areas.  The opportunistic denning and feeding habits of the Opossum has  led to the success of the species, especially in areas of habitat  fragmentation. High reproductive potential further contributes to  increasing population size. Abandoned burrows,  buildings, hollow logs, and tree cavities are generally used for den  sites. 



The Virginia opossum has many behavioral adaptations it uses to survive.  When threatened, it will exhibit behaviors such as running, growling, belching, urinating and even defecating. Sometimes it will "play  'possum." and roll over, become stiff, drool, and its breathing will  become slow and shallow. This coma-like state can last up to four hours  Some predators will think the opossum is dead and go away.  The Virginia opossum is nocturnal and uses its keen sense of smell to locate food. It is omnivorous and eats just about anything, including a variety of different plants and  animals like fruits, insects, and other small animals. It will also eat garbage and carrion. Carrion is dead animals. Because so much  carrion is roadkill, opossums are often killed by cars while looking for food on roadways.