Today at Light Future Art, we’re going to share some wonderful facts about Virginia opossums. Considered by some to be pests, these animals are actually very special and should be protected. Read on to find out some fun facts!
1. Virginia opossums are remarkably resistant to snake venom, bee stings, and other poisons and toxins. They also are very resistant to rabies and prevent the spread of many diseases such as Lyme disease.
2. Although this animal is known as the Virginia opossum, their habitat is much more extensive than just that one state. Their range extends all the way up to Canada and south throughout Mexico. Some groups of opossums have been introduced into California, as well.
3. “Playing possum” is actually an involuntary act triggered by extreme fear and not a conscious choice on the part of the opossum. When threatened, they may also fluff up their fur to appear larger and hiss.
4. Opossums build nests during the breeding season to give birth in. They collect leaves, grass, and branches with their prehensile tails. They also spend most of the winter in their dens. Opossums don’t hibernate but do need to stay warm and less active than usual.
5. Opossum tracks can be identified by the opposable “thumb” on their hind feet. This thumb is without a claw and helps them to grip branches easier.
6. Opossums are omnivores. They eat small mammals, amphibians, and fish in the spring and early summer and berries and vegetables in the autumn and winter.
7. Newborn opossums are incredibly tiny, only about the size of a bee. They continue to grow in the mother’s pouch until they’re large and strong enough to emerge.
8. Opossums are nocturnal (awake at night), but mothers with babies on her back tend to be more active at dusk.
9. Baby opossums are called joeys. The adult males are called jacks and the adult females are called jills.
10. Opossums are one of the oldest mammals, having evolved at least 70 million years ago and remaining fairly unchanged.
11. The name “opossum” comes from the Algonquin word “apasum”, which translates to mean “white animal”.
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If you’re interested in opossums and want to read more about how marsupials evolved in North America, you can read that blog post right here!
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