Lakeside Nature Center

Critter Corner - Opossum
(Didelphis virginiana)


The opossum is the only marsupial (animal with a pouch) in North America?


Sometimes Opossums will seek out food around your home, so keep trash in metal containers and do not leave cat and dog food bowls out at night.


After birth, the young must climb through their mother's fur into a pouch on her abdomen.  When the babies are 80 days old, they begin spending time outside of the pouch, riding on Mom's back.  If you see a young opossum whose eyes are open walking around, don't assume it is abandoned.  Mom may still be nearby, or it may be ready to live on its own.


Opossums are active year round and live in brush piles, hollow trees or perhaps even under your porch.



You may see opossums in your neighborhood at night scavenging for food.  If you startle one, it may feign death, may quickly retreat up a tree or it may use its fifty sharp teeth as a defense.


  • Opossums tails are not strong enough to hang from branches, but they do use them to gather leaves and to help hold on as they climb trees.

  • Opossums have thumbs on their hind feet

  • Fossils of opossums have been found that are 70 million years ago.  This means that opossums shared the earth with dinosaurs.

  • These marsupials eat bugs, slugs, snails and cockroaches.  They are Nature's Clean-up Crew.

 To learn more about opossums

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(Photo Credits: Close-up of opossum, Sharon Goff; Opossum on log, Bob Gress, Illinois Dept of Natural Resources; Opossum carrying nesting material, Missouri Department of Conservation)


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