There are an ext than 60 species of opossum. The varieties that many world think of as soon as hearing around this animal is the usual opossum, also known together Virginia opossum. However, these space two different species. The common opossum"s clinical name is Didelphis marsupialis, and also the Virginia opossum"s scientific name is Didelphis virginiana.

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These species of opossums have a cone-shaped nose v a pink tip, a lengthy hairless tail, and white, gray and also black fur. Opossums room the just marsupial discovered naturally in phibìc America.

Size

Opossums are around the size of tiny dogs. Lock are about 2.5 feet (76 centimeters), nose to tail, and also weigh 8.8 come 13.2 lbs. (4 come 6 kilograms), according to nationwide Geographic.

Habitat

The typical opossum and also Virginia opossum are uncovered in the united States, Mexico, central America, southern America and Canada. Despite they aren"t picky about where they hang out, opossums love trees and also will stay aloft in tree as lot as possible. They also prefer locations that space wet, like marshes, swamps and streams.


Habits

Opossums room nocturnal, which way they room awake at night and sleep during the day. They spend nights in search of food.


Though lock don"t hibernate, opossums do slow down throughout the winter. They live in burrows that they fill through dry pipeline or even shredded paper, and also fat reserves help keep them warm. In the summer, they will lick themselves and also cover their fur in spit to keep cool, follow to theAnimal Diversity Web.

Diet

Opossums are known for scavenging though trash. They space omnivores, which way they eat both vegetation and meat, and also they aren"t picky. In the wild, they will certainly munch top top nuts, grass and also fruit. Lock will additionally hunt insects, mice, wild birds, snakes, worms and chickens. In the city they will certainly eat roadkill and also garbage.

Offspring

Males have forked penises. It was once thought the the factor for this physical attribute was the they bred v the female"s nose. The was believed that as soon as the babies to be born, the mom would sneeze the babies right into her pouch. This isn"t true. These marsupials breed lot like various other mammals.


Opossums reproduce double a year. As soon as mating is done, the male, called a jack, leaves and also doesn"t return. ~ a gestation of just 12 to 13 days, female opossums, called jills, give birth to as much as 20 live young at a time.

The babies, referred to as joeys, are around the dimension of jelly beans when they room born. They automatically crawl right into the mother"s pouch to proceed developing. Also as the joeys thrive older, the mom will still bring them top top her earlier wherever she goes. They will remain with their mommy for about 100 days. Typically, many of the joeys don"t survive. Joeys end up being sexually mature at six to eight months and live because that one to two years.

Classification/taxonomy

Here is the taxonomy that the usual opossum, follow to the incorporated Taxonomic details System:

Kingdom: Animalia Subkingdom: Bilateria Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Infraphylum: Gnathostomata Superclass: Tetrapoda Class: Mammalia Subclass: Theria Infraclass: Metatheria Order: Didelphimorphia Family: Didelphidae Subfamily: Didelphinae Genus: Didelphis Species: Didelphis marsupialis Subspecies: Didelphis marsupialis caucae, Didelphis marsupialis marsupialis

preservation status

While some opossums space endangered or extinct, the usual opossum is listed as least problem by the worldwide Union for Conservation the Nature (IUCN). Its population is noted as stable.

other facts

Opossums really carry out play dead. They will flop down and be very still through their tongue hanging the end to cheat predators. Occasionally this trick will permit opossums come escape. Play dead have the right to last increase to 6 hours, according to ADW.

Like other marsupials, opossums have thumbs, dubbed an opposable hallux, on your paws. These thumbs are on the back feet as well as on the former feet. Your tails space prehensile and also can be provided to assist them climb and also hold top top tree branches.

Though opossums will hiss in ~ humans, castle are rarely aggressive, according to The Humane Society.

Opossums space immune to line bites, punishment stings and also other toxins, according to the nationwide Wildlife Federation.

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Alina Bradford is a contributing writer because that Live Science. Over the previous 16 years, Alina has covered whatever from Ebola to androids while composing health, science and tech posts for major publications. She has actually multiple health, safety and lifesaving certifications indigenous Oklahoma State University. Alina"s goal in life is to try as many experiences as possible. To date, she has been a volunteer firefighter, a dispatcher, substitute teacher, artist, janitor, children"s book author, pizza maker, occasion coordinator and also much more.