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Did you know that Opossums have a talented gift for extending their life? I’ve developed a love and appreciation for opossums. My heart breaks when I see one run over by a car. Was it a single Opossum, or was it a female with babies in her pouch? Living in a high rise most of my adult life, I never gave them much thought. They looked like scary little aliens. Now that I’m in my ground level studio, I’m entertained by them almost every evening.
Reasons to Appreciate the Magnificent Opossum.
- They’re the only North American native marsupial. Like a kangaroo, they carry their young in a well developed fur-lined tummy pouch for about 11 weeks.
- Opossums in your yard, or around your property could be one of your greatest health benefits. They could end Lyme disease, because each Opossum may eat up to 4000 ticks per week.
- They’re great ratters, keeping your place rodent free—eating cockroaches, mice, and dead animals.
- If you’re a gardener, they eat many garden pests such as snails and slugs.
- Did you know they’re resistant to venomous snakes? Yep, a snake bite, only makes them mad. If you live in an area of copperheads and rattlers…Do Not Kill Your Opossums—they very well could be you and your dogs best helper during snake season.
- Opossums have rabies resistance. How so? Their body temperature is a bit lower than normal mammals, and since this virus needs warmth to grow, the lower temperature makes it difficult for rabies virus to develop.
- They date back to dinosaur times.
- They have 50 teeth in their mouth.
- Their big survival skill is an ability to play and smell dead. When threatened they may hiss, fall over, roll their eyes back in their head, hang their tongue out, and release a foul smell. This talent leaves attacking predators that like to prey on scared, fighting animals with little interest in the dead possum.
The Name Thing…Opossum vs. Possum
According to the site Writing Explained, they’re totally different animals. The Opossum is North American. It has a white face, grayish-white body, with black ears and feet, and a bare rat-like tail. The Opossum is what we also call the possum, but scientifically that’s incorrect. The possum here in the U.S. is an Opossums, like the one in the header photo of this post.
The Possum is an Australian animal with four color variations: silver-gray, brown, black, and gold. They have larger ears and softer fur, but most defining is their bushy, fur covered tail.
Read more, and see the different photos at Writing Explained.
Oh, and a Bit About Raccoons
If you see a raccoon out in the day, most likely it’s a nursing mother with babies (called kits) in the nest. She must stay on the nest at night to protect the kits from predators, so she forages in daylight while predators are sleeping.
Find out more at DFW Wildlife.org
And many thanks to Prudi Koeninger for this PDF link below:
We keep a community food bowl of dry cat food, and a bowl of water on the studio terrace 24/7. Each night Opossums show up. I have a tree branch on the outside studio wall; they climb up and sit there for hours. When the babies arrive, I can’t get any work done for watching them share the food bowl, and learn to navigate the water bowl while not falling in.
Phebe creates The Literary CatCast Podcast.
She lives in Dallas, obviously with a few animals.