They have opposable inner toes on their hind feet, a body length of 14–19 inches, and a tail length of 10–17 inches. The opossum is about the size of a house cat. Opossum. One species (Philander opossum) of the gray four-eyed opossum and the brown four-eyed opossum are found in both Central and South America; they have large heads and long tails, and the latter species is pouchless. Males reach the length of 334 – 375 mm whereas females average 349 – 383 mm. Generally, the nose is pink, the eyes are black and the ears are bluish-black. The common opossum lives in trees, can hang by its prehensile tail, and is the only non-primate to have opposable big toes, but it is not a monkey. Range: The opossum can be found as far north as the Canadian border, and as far south as Costa Rica. Learn how the length of gestation varies among animals such as elephants and opposums. Its head and body length ranges from 3.7 to 5.3 inches (9.3 to 13.5 centimeters), the tail 3.7 to 5.3 inches (9.3 to 12.7 centimeters). These marsupials, along with their relatives in Australasia, were formerly grouped together in the order Marsupialia (now a cohort including several orders). Other close relatives include three species of white-eared opossums: D. albiventris in eastern Brazil and south through eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina; D. imperfecta in Venezuela and the Guianas; and D. pernigra, found in the Andes from western Venezuela south into Bolivia. Among the smallest opossums are the small-eyed short-tailed opossums of the genus Monodelphis (20 recognized species) of South America (one, M. melanops, is found in Panama); some are only 11 cm (4 inches) long including the tail. There are no major threats to this species. The Water Opossum (Chironectes minimus) or ‘Yapok’ is found in the tropical forests of South America. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial native to North America. It has a slow, side-to-side gait as it forages for food, usually at night. Woolly opossums include three genera: Caluromys, with three species and found from southern Mexico into Brazil, the Glironia, known from a single species in the Amazon basin of Brazil, southern Colombia, eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru, and northeastern Bolivia; and Caluromysiops, with a single species found in eastern Peru and western Brazil. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. They have 200 – 260 mm long tail. It is about 60 – 90 c… The average number of young per litter is nine, varying from five to 13. The most abundant members of the opossum family are the more than 56 species of mouse, or murine, opossums, which are found from northern Mexico into Argentina. The scientific name for Australian possums is Phalangeridae. The Virginia opossum may grow to 100 cm (40 inches) in length (including the tail) and is about the size of a house cat. In northern climates, however, tail length may … ... four paws; long, hairless tail spanning over 1/3 of its total body length. In New Zealand, adult possums typically grow between 65 and 95 cm in length, and can weigh anywhere between 3.09 – 14.11 pounds (1.4 and 6.4 kg). However, the main difference between the two is that the opossum has a bald tail, while the possum has a bushy tail full of fur. Some Australasian marsupials also are called possums (see phalanger). The opossum’s nearly hairless, scaly, prehensile tail is about half the animal’s total length. The largest possum, the bear cuscus, may weigh more than 7 kg (15lb. At this time the young may be left in a den while the mother forages. Minimum cage dimensions are 12 w x 24 l x 18 h inches. Habitat: Opossum do not have a specific habitat. It size may be anywhere between a finger’s length to around four feet. Opossum Facts. The opossum is actually a marsupial, which means opossum babies are raised in a pouch on the mothers belly, just like a kangaroo. [3] If looks could kill, opossums would be some of the fiercest predators. The water opossum’s dark upperparts are broadly striped. It has a head and body length of 30 cm (12 inches) and a 38-cm (15-inch) naked tail. The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a medium-sized animal with long, rather coarse fur; a sharp slender muzzle; prominent, thin, naked ears; short legs all about the same length; and a long grasping tail covered with scales and scant hairs. tail is rat-like, hairless, and slightly less than half the total length of the opossum. The thick-tailed opossums (Lutreolina), three species of South America east of the Andes, are found chiefly in marshes and along watercourses but may enter cities. Considered the most primitive of American marsupials, the monito del monte (Dromiciops australis) is found in Chile and Argentina. After only 12–13 days of gestation (average 12.5 days), an opossum may have as many as 25 young; the average number is usually 7 or 8. A solid bottom is also important. Virginia opossums can vary considerably in size, with larger specimens found to the north of the opossum's range and smaller specimens in the tropics. The Virginia opossum eats almost anything, including insects, small mammals, eggs, nestlings, fruit, and sometimes cultivated crops. the butt half by the tail and as the rest of the body is rising, slip the rolled up newspaper between both sets of legs and as the opossum becomes airborne, it will naturally grasp the rolled up newspaper for security. Good thing they're pretty harmless to humans! Opossums nest in tree holes or in dens made by other animals. Virginia opossum young remain attached to the nipple for seven to eight weeks, after which they are either carried in the pouch or—when too large for the pouch—carried clinging to the mother’s fur. The ventral areas are typically lighter and the tail is usually brown or black. They are aided in this by sharp claws, which dig into bark, and by a long prehensile (gripping) tail that can be used as an extra limb. 18) How long is an opossum's tail? Geographic range:The silky shrew opossum inhabits the western Andes of northern and western Colombia, extrem… The face is light gray to white, whereas the general color of the fur from neck to rump is grayish white. The common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) occurs from Mexico through Central America and into South America as far as the central Amazon basin. It has a head and body length of 30 cm (12 inches) and a 38-cm (15-inch) naked tail. Size and Weight. Virginia Opossums have a typical lifespan of 2-4 years in the wild and up to 6 years captivity. The tail is moderately prehensile. Opossums measure two to three feet in length, a third of which is a round, scaly, sparsely haired tail. Curator, New World Mammals, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Wildlife Biologist, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, United States Geological Survey, Laurel,... Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. 6oz.). Gestation 12 – 13 days Young 5 – 21 IUCN Status Least Concern Facts. Among the most well known of their respective types are the Virginia opossum and the brushtail possum. Of the 100+ opossum species in the world, the most common and recognizable in the United States is the Virginia opossum. The length of the head and body together range from 265 mm to 430 mm and the tail averages at about 500 mm in length. The muzzle is marked with dark patches. The Virginia opossum has a cat-sized body; grey or whitish fur with a white face; long pointy snout; round dark eyes and hairless ears; four paws; long, hairless tail spanning over 1/3 of its total body length. The flesh of the Virginia opossum was once enjoyed as food in the southern United States, where opossum hunting was a popular fall and winter sport. It weighs 1.2-4.5 kg. The ringtail’s tail averages 300 – 350 mm. Physical characteristics:The silky shrew opossum is probably the best known of the shrew opossum species. Bigger the better. Males are smaller than females. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). When playing possum they will remain still, will not blink, and their tongue will hang out. Opossums have a long, pointed face with round, hairless ears and a rat-like tail. Water Opossum Description. Their bodies are covered in white or grayish hair. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Also known as Derby’s Woolly Opossum, it is the largest of its genus (three species of woolly opossums), and has six recognized subspecies. The head is conical, tapering to a slender, elongated snout tipped by a pink-colored nose. Opossums grow up to 40 inches in length, about the size of a house cat. Some newborns never succeed in entering the pouch, and others die because there are more young born than there are teats to serve them. If surprised while on the ground, the opossum may feign death—hence the expression “playing possum.” The animal also possesses a protein in its blood called lethal toxin-neutralizing factor (LTNF), which has been shown to detoxify a wide variety of poisons, including the venom produced by snakes, bees, and scorpions. Using their clawed forelimbs, they instinctively struggle toward the mother’s fur-lined pouch; those that reach the pouch seek out a nipple—there usually are 13 of them—and achieve a firm oral grip as the nipple swells. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? The second litter is weaned around mid- to late September. Males weigh between 4.6 and 6.2 pounds (2.1 and 2.8 kilograms) and females range from 4.2-4.6 pounds (1.9–2.1 kilograms). The young are born blind, naked, and grublike and weigh only 0.13 gram (0.0046 ounce). BEST SHORT-TAILED OPOSSUM CAGE. Physical Description: Opossums are small to medium-sized marsupials with dark to grayish-white fur, a white, pointed face, and a long, hairless prehensile tail. The common brushtail possum has a head and body length of 32–58 cm with a tail length of 24–40 cm. However, the prehensile tail can curl tightly around branches, grasp and carry objects, and help stabilize the opossum as it clambers around in trees and bushes. The Virginia opossum is prey for foxes, birds of prey, coyotes, and snakes; however, it has developed some novel adaptations that increase its chances of survival. They can be found in cities and rural areas. The only opossum species occurring north of Mexico is the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), which ranges from lower eastern Canada and Puget Sound southward to Costa Rica; other members of that genus are found in South America. 2/3 IT'S BODY LENGTH 1/2 IT'S BODY LENGTH 1/4 IT'S BODY LENGTH 1/3 IT'S BODY LENGTH Opossums are about the size of small dogs. https://www.britannica.com/animal/opossum-marsupial-group, opossum - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), opossum - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Virginia opossums are fully weaned and independent at about 100 days of age. Water Opossum. (4 to 6 kilograms), according to National Geographic. The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a medium-sized animal with long, rather coarse fur; a sharp slender muzzle; prominent, thin, naked ears; short legs all about the same length; and a long grasping tail covered with scales and scant hairs.Opossums are in the family Marsupialia, which comes from a Latin word meaning "pouch" and refers to the pouch on the belly of … They are distributed from southern Mexico to Belize and Argentina. A baby opossum might be able to manage this feat for a second or two, but weight and body size in proportion to tail strength rule out the possibility of an adult opossum’s pulling it off. Here are some recommendations: #1. The tail of the Virginia Opossum is 10”-12” (25-30 cm) in length. In a few months they will reproduce and continue the fascinating life cycle of the Virginia opossum. The water opossum, or yapok (Chironectes minimus), a carnivorous opossum found from Mexico to Argentina, is the only marsupial adapted to a semiaquatic life: it has webbed hind toes, dense oily fur, and a pouch opening that can be tightened to keep the young dry. They are about 2.5 feet (76 centimeters), nose to tail, and weigh 8.8 to 13.2 lbs. In Kansas, the breeding season begins about the first of February. Opossums have adapted to a variety of habitats, but, being largely arboreal, they are absent from treeless dry areas. ... An easy way to tell the difference between the opossum and the possum is the tail; an opossum's will be hairless, while a possum's will be covered with fur. [5] The first litter is weaned in May, and the female mates again. Always hold the opossum at arm’s length from your body, in case it tries to transfer its grip from the newspaper to KDWPT - Damage Control Operators by County. The young are weaned at approximately 3 months of age and are on their own at 4 1/2 – 5 months when they are approximately 7-9 inches long from nose to rump, excluding the tail. The Virginia opossum breeds from midwinter to late autumn. Physical Description Opossums are about the same size as house cats, but can grow to a length of 40 inches. It has a pointy white face, beady black eyes, round black ears, and a stout body. Male Virginia opossums may grow to 100 cm (40 inches) but average about 76 cm (30 inches) in total length (including the tail); females average about 72 cm (28 inches). Depending on the species, they have soft fur which is silver … Colour patterns tend to be silver-grey, brown, black, red, or cream. The Virginia opossum is common and widespread. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. The eyes of this species are black and shiny. It is the only living North American marsupial. The animal has 50 teeth. Opossum are smaller in size while possum are large; Possum tend to be longer while opossum are shorter in terms of length; Opossum have longer snout while possum has a shorter snout; Opossum have bare rat-like tail while possum has a bushy tail; Opossum have elongated face while possum have long and round face Males have a body length of 16 inches (40.8 centimeters) with a tail length of 11.6 inches (29.4 centimeters), while female body lengths average 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) with tail lengths of 11 inches (28.1 centimeters). Updates? There are five sharp-clawed toes on each front foot. The fur on the dorsal (back) body is soft and thick, and colored a dark brown gradually giving way to lighter brown on the lower body and underbelly. This New World species is correctly called an “opossum” as opposed to the Old World “possum”. Australian Possums range in size from the tiny pygmy possum which is only 70 mm in length and weighs 10g to the brushtail possum which can reach more than a meter in length and weighs 10 kgs. The innermost toe on each hind foot is clawless and opposable and can be used for grasping branches. The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a marsupial, and the only marsupial found north of Mexico. The tail is gray, and the feet and toes are pink to white. As long as 70 cm (28 inches), including its 30-cm (12-inch) tail, these opossums resemble large weasels and are fiercely carnivorous. The size of a house cat , males average about 3 kg (6.6 pounds), females about 2 kg (4.4 pounds). Its coarse coat varies from grayish white (in northern regions) to nearly black (in warm regions). Both are small to medium sized, omnivorous marsupials, but the similarities end there. The smallest possum, the Tasmanian pygmy possum, has an adult head-body length of 70 mm (2 3/4 in.) and a weight of 10 g (3/8 oz.). The seven species of gray four-eyed opossum (Philander) and the brown four-eyed, or rat-tailed, opossum (Metachirus nudicaudatus) get their name from the large pale spots over each eye. opossum may be black or darkly coloured and may extend as a stripe on the crown tapering to a point between the eyes. Its body length is 22 to 30 cm, and its tail is 38 to 45 cm, giving an overall length of 60 to 70 cm, and it weighs 245-370 grams. An opossum's tail makes up 1/3 of its body length. One litter is produced annually in cooler regions, but two litters are the rule in warmer regions. Size and weight of possums vary greatly depending upon the habitat and species. Although most opossums are gray, there are several other color phases: Some are black, some are brown and a few are white. The word opossum is based on the Algonquian word apasum, meaning “white animal”—in reference to the Virginia opossum of North America. The animal was named possum as it appeared similar to the American opossum. The head-body length of the common ringtail possum is about 300 to 350 mm with the tail reaching the size of its body. Three adult male and two adult female opossums (body mass: 2.2 ± 0.5 kg; tail length: 29.6 ± 2.1 cm) were live captured in the field (Mahoning County, Ohio) using Havahart Easy Set traps (80 cm × 30 cm × 35 cm), and euthanized in the laboratory by an overdose IP injection of Euthasol (Virbac AH). Opossum, also spelled possum, any of slightly more than 100 species of New World marsupial mammals in the orders Didelphimorphia, Paucituberculata (see rat opossum), and Microbiotheria (see monito del monte). Opossums are in the family Marsupialia, which comes from a Latin word meaning "pouch" and refers to the pouch on the belly of the females. Young opossums are born incompletely formed and are carried in this pouch while they continue their growth and development. Kansas State University1603 Throckmorton HallManhattan, KS 66506, 785-532-1949785-532-6949 faxarickett@k-state.edu. The opossum is a successful scavenger, thanks to its adaptability and excellent immune system. Omissions? By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Adults range in length from 24 to 34 inches and weigh from 4 to 15 pounds. Height and Length of the cage is important as (STOs) short-tailed opossums love climbing, need space to forage and need space for the exercise wheel. The water opossum’s dark upperparts are broadly striped. It can be found throughout the United States. Tail Length 10 - 21 in. They measure 13–37 in (35–94 cm) long from their snout to the base of the tail, with the tail adding another 8.5–19 in (21.6–47 cm). Additionally, females have a pouch on their stomach for holding newborns. Water Opossums measure 27 – 40 centimetres (10.5 – 16 inches) in length and weigh between 600 – 800 grams (1.25 – 1.75 pounds). Gestation takes only 12 to 13 days. The folklore that the opossum gives birth through its nose probably comes from the female’s habit of putting her face into the pouch to clean it just before giving birth. Considered a medium-sized mammal, the Virginia opossum is typically 14 to 37 inches in length and can weigh anywhere from 1.8 to 14 pounds, while the Brushtail opossum comes in somewhat smaller. Their dens are often found in a hollow tree or under stumps and roots. 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