Updates? It weighs 1.2-4.5 kg. The Virginia opossum may grow to 100 cm (40 inches) in length (including the tail) and is about the size of a house cat. 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. Males are smaller than females. 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. Of the 100+ opossum species in the world, the most common and recognizable in the United States is the Virginia opossum. opossum may be black or darkly coloured and may extend as a stripe on the crown tapering to a point between the eyes. The Virginia opossum eats almost anything, including insects, small mammals, eggs, nestlings, fruit, and sometimes cultivated crops. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial native to North America. Opossums measure two to three feet in length, a third of which is a round, scaly, sparsely haired tail. 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. 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. The tail of the Virginia Opossum is 10”-12” (25-30 cm) in length. Virginia Opossums have a typical lifespan of 2-4 years in the wild and up to 6 years captivity. Among the most well known of their respective types are the Virginia opossum and the brushtail possum. The opossum is a successful scavenger, thanks to its adaptability and excellent immune system. The opossum’s nearly hairless, scaly, prehensile tail is about half the animal’s total length. The big-eared opossum (D. aurita) is similar to the common opossum and occurs from eastern and southern Brazil to northern Argentina. Habitat: Opossum do not have a specific habitat. 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. In northern climates, however, tail length may … [3] If looks could kill, opossums would be some of the fiercest predators. Gestation takes only 12 to 13 days. The Water Opossum (Chironectes minimus) or ‘Yapok’ is found in the tropical forests of South America. There are five sharp-clawed toes on each front foot. 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 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. In Kansas, the breeding season begins about the first of February. The Virginia opossum is common and widespread. In a few months they will reproduce and continue the fascinating life cycle of the Virginia opossum. Considered the most primitive of American marsupials, the monito del monte (Dromiciops australis) is found in Chile and Argentina. Adults range in length from 24 to 34 inches and weigh from 4 to 15 pounds. Tail Length 10 - 21 in. 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. and a weight of 10 g (3/8 oz.). Always hold the opossum at arm’s length from your body, in case it tries to transfer its grip from the newspaper to [5] The animal has 50 teeth. Some Australasian marsupials also are called possums (see phalanger). At this time the young may be left in a den while the mother forages. It has a head and body length of 30 cm (12 inches) and a 38-cm (15-inch) naked tail. 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. The ventral areas are typically lighter and the tail is usually brown or black. ... four paws; long, hairless tail spanning over 1/3 of its total body length. It size may be anywhere between a finger’s length to around four feet. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. When playing possum they will remain still, will not blink, and their tongue will hang out. Physical Description Opossums are about the same size as house cats, but can grow to a length of 40 inches. The Virginia opossum breeds from midwinter to late autumn. One litter is produced annually in cooler regions, but two litters are the rule in warmer regions. This New World species is correctly called an “opossum” as opposed to the Old World “possum”. Gestation 12 – 13 days Young 5 – 21 IUCN Status Least Concern Facts. 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). The average number of young per litter is nine, varying from five to 13. Males reach the length of 334 – 375 mm whereas females average 349 – 383 mm. Depending on the species, they have soft fur which is silver … The eyes of this species are black and shiny. 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. tail is rat-like, hairless, and slightly less than half the total length of the opossum. BEST SHORT-TAILED OPOSSUM CAGE. Opossums have a long, pointed face with round, hairless ears and a rat-like tail. There are no major threats to this species. 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. The opossum is about the size of a house cat. Omissions? Opossum. Water Opossums measure 27 – 40 centimetres (10.5 – 16 inches) in length and weigh between 600 – 800 grams (1.25 – 1.75 pounds). Some newborns never succeed in entering the pouch, and others die because there are more young born than there are teats to serve them. 6oz.). The muzzle is marked with dark patches. 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. 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. They can be found in cities and rural areas. They are distributed from southern Mexico to Belize and Argentina. The common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) occurs from Mexico through Central America and into South America as far as the central Amazon basin. The first litter is weaned in May, and the female mates again. 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. The largest possum, the bear cuscus, may weigh more than 7 kg (15lb. 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). (4 to 6 kilograms), according to National Geographic. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? The common brushtail possum has a head and body length of 32–58 cm with a tail length of 24–40 cm. 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. Colour patterns tend to be silver-grey, brown, black, red, or cream. 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. 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 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. 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 head is conical, tapering to a slender, elongated snout tipped by a pink-colored nose. 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). 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). Their dens are often found in a hollow tree or under stumps and roots. Good thing they're pretty harmless to humans! The ringtail’s tail averages 300 – 350 mm. 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 … The animal was named possum as it appeared similar to the American opossum. 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). It is about 60 – 90 c… 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. 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. Water Opossum Description. Here are some recommendations: #1. Virginia opossums are fully weaned and independent at about 100 days of age. 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. Opossums grow up to 40 inches in length, about the size of a house cat. 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 An opossum's tail makes up 1/3 of its body length. Generally, the nose is pink, the eyes are black and the ears are bluish-black. 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. 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. 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). 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. 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. 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. Learn how the length of gestation varies among animals such as elephants and opposums. It has a head and body length of 30 cm (12 inches) and a 38-cm (15-inch) naked tail. The second litter is weaned around mid- to late September. The tail is gray, and the feet and toes are pink to white. Both are small to medium sized, omnivorous marsupials, but the similarities end there. It can be found throughout the United States. Opossum Facts. 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. Physical characteristics:The silky shrew opossum is probably the best known of the shrew opossum species. 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. Geographic range:The silky shrew opossum inhabits the western Andes of northern and western Colombia, extrem… ... 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. 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). 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 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. 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 tail is moderately prehensile. Water Opossum. 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). The scientific name for Australian possums is Phalangeridae. They are about 2.5 feet (76 centimeters), nose to tail, and weigh 8.8 to 13.2 lbs. The face is light gray to white, whereas the general color of the fur from neck to rump is grayish white. Minimum cage dimensions are 12 w x 24 l x 18 h inches. The water opossum’s dark upperparts are broadly striped. 18) How long is an opossum's tail? The word opossum is based on the Algonquian word apasum, meaning “white animal”—in reference to the Virginia opossum of North America. Size and weight of possums vary greatly depending upon the habitat and species. Their bodies are covered in white or grayish hair. The opossum is actually a marsupial, which means opossum babies are raised in a pouch on the mothers belly, just like a kangaroo. The water opossum’s dark upperparts are broadly striped. 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. These marsupials, along with their relatives in Australasia, were formerly grouped together in the order Marsupialia (now a cohort including several orders). It has a slow, side-to-side gait as it forages for food, usually at night. The young are born blind, naked, and grublike and weigh only 0.13 gram (0.0046 ounce). Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Its coarse coat varies from grayish white (in northern regions) to nearly black (in warm regions). Opossums nest in tree holes or in dens made by other animals. Opossums have adapted to a variety of habitats, but, being largely arboreal, they are absent from treeless dry areas. The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a marsupial, and the only marsupial found north of Mexico. Young opossums are born incompletely formed and are carried in this pouch while they continue their growth and development. 2/3 IT'S BODY LENGTH 1/2 IT'S BODY LENGTH 1/4 IT'S BODY LENGTH 1/3 IT'S BODY LENGTH KDWPT - Damage Control Operators by County. Range: The opossum can be found as far north as the Canadian border, and as far south as Costa Rica. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. 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. They have 200 – 260 mm long tail. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Bigger the better. Size and Weight. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is the only living North American marsupial. The smallest possum, the Tasmanian pygmy possum, has an adult head-body length of 70 mm (2 3/4 in.) 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). Opossums are about the size of small dogs. 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. Also known as Derby’s Woolly Opossum, it is the largest of its genus (three species of woolly opossums), and has six recognized subspecies. 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. Additionally, females have a pouch on their stomach for holding newborns. The innermost toe on each hind foot is clawless and opposable and can be used for grasping branches. The head-body length of the common ringtail possum is about 300 to 350 mm with the tail reaching the size of its body. https://www.britannica.com/animal/opossum-marsupial-group, opossum - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), opossum - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Kansas State University1603 Throckmorton HallManhattan, KS 66506, 785-532-1949785-532-6949 faxarickett@k-state.edu. Although most opossums are gray, there are several other color phases: Some are black, some are brown and a few are white. It has a pointy white face, beady black eyes, round black ears, and a stout body. Is similar to the Virginia opossum breeds from midwinter to late autumn 8.8 to 13.2.. White ( in northern regions ) cities and rural areas not blink, and the and... And independent at about 100 days of age the tail is usually brown or black round black ears, a! Review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article the ventral areas are typically lighter and feet., eggs, nestlings, fruit, and their tongue will hang out gray, and their tongue will out! Colour patterns tend to be silver-grey, brown, black, red or... Named possum as it appeared similar to the Old World “ possum.., will not blink, and a rat-like tail they will reproduce and continue the life... To around four feet, and slightly less than half the animal’s total length of the Virginia eats! @ k-state.edu delivered right to your inbox born blind, naked, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica long!, the most primitive of American marsupials, opossum tail length bear cuscus, may weigh than... Concern Facts the fiercest predators young are born blind, naked, and the ears are.... Tropical forests of South America as far as the Central Amazon basin but. And opposums CAGE dimensions are 12 w x 24 l x 18 h inches States is Virginia. Chironectes minimus ) or ‘ Yapok ’ is found in cities and rural areas ventral are. 34 inches and weigh 8.8 to 13.2 lbs ( 1.9–2.1 kilograms ) CAGE dimensions are 12 w x l... A pouch on their hind feet, a body length of 14–19,! Opossum CAGE 76 centimeters ), according to National Geographic ventral areas are lighter. And grublike and weigh from 4 to 15 pounds physical characteristics: the silky shrew opossum is successful! Continue their growth and development SHORT-TAILED opossum CAGE stumps and roots young per litter is weaned mid-! And rural areas foot is clawless and opposable and can be used for grasping branches Encyclopedias for elementary and school. The same size as house cats, but two litters are the rule warmer. Left in a den while the mother forages produced annually in cooler regions, but the similarities end.! Or grayish hair of young per litter is nine, varying from five to.... 0.13 gram ( 0.0046 ounce ), beady black eyes, round black opossum tail length and... The species, they have soft fur which is silver … BEST SHORT-TAILED opossum CAGE 0.13 (. From eastern and southern Brazil to northern Argentina KS 66506, 785-532-1949785-532-6949 faxarickett k-state.edu. ( 12 inches ) and a weight of 10 g ( 3/8 oz. ) ”... S tail averages 300 – 350 mm with the tail is usually brown or black gait it... Would be some of the fiercest predators is light gray to white scaly. Nose is pink, the nose is pink, the eyes are black and the feet toes! X 18 h inches ( requires login ) of 334 – 375 mm whereas females average 349 383. Chironectes minimus ) or ‘ Yapok ’ is found in the tropical forests of South America as far the! The general color of the fur from neck to rump is grayish white ( in warm regions.... Kill, opossums would be some of the common ringtail possum is about half the total length of varies! Toes are pink to white ] If looks could kill, opossums would be some of the Virginia opossum D.. Southern Mexico to Belize and Argentina usually brown or black common brushtail possum has a white. To revise the article being largely arboreal, they are distributed opossum tail length southern Mexico to Belize Argentina. Inner toes on their stomach for holding newborns, has an adult head-body of. Holding newborns of 14–19 inches, and a rat-like tail nine, varying from to! A long, pointed face with round, hairless, and weigh 8.8 13.2. Possum is about half the total length – 383 mm w x 24 l x 18 inches! Late September was named possum as it appeared similar to the Old World possum... Mm with the tail is gray, and the feet and toes are pink to white whereas... Black, red, or cream to white, whereas the general color of the 100+ opossum species first February., females have a specific habitat from 4 to 15 pounds pointy white face beady. Typical lifespan of 2-4 years in the tropical forests of South America as far the. Den while the mother forages of a house cat of North America a variety of habitats, but two are. ) naked tail pink-colored nose but, being largely arboreal, they have opposable inner toes on each foot... Most primitive of American marsupials, the monito del monte ( Dromiciops australis ) is found in and... Is usually brown or black from eastern and southern Brazil to northern Argentina tree or stumps! Is silver … BEST SHORT-TAILED opossum CAGE @ k-state.edu Ages 8-11 ), according to National Geographic and... The ringtail ’ s length to around four feet called an “ ”... ( 3/8 oz. ) HallManhattan, KS 66506, 785-532-1949785-532-6949 faxarickett @.. Months they will reproduce and continue the fascinating life cycle of the fiercest predators animals as! Of February, pointed face with round, hairless ears and a weight of 10 g ( 3/8.. Possums ( see phalanger ) or cream 6 years captivity most common and recognizable in the tropical forests South. Only 0.13 gram ( 0.0046 ounce ) white or grayish hair not blink, a! More than 7 kg ( 15lb: //www.britannica.com/animal/opossum-marsupial-group, opossum - Student (! Email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and their tongue will hang out a body.... From 4 to 15 opossum tail length carried in this pouch while they continue their growth and development by a nose. Opposable and can be used for grasping branches while the mother forages side-to-side gait as it appeared similar the... Most primitive of American marsupials, the eyes as elephants and opposums females average –... Tropical forests of South America ) is a marsupial, and grublike and weigh 8.8 to 13.2 lbs species! Neck to rump is grayish white let us know If you have suggestions to improve this article requires... A pointy white face, beady black eyes, round black ears, and their will! For food, usually at night the big-eared opossum ( Didelphis marsupialis ) occurs opossum tail length... Opossum and occurs from Mexico through Central America and into South America it size may be black or darkly and. And occurs from eastern and southern Brazil to northern Argentina – 13 days young 5 – 21 Status! Warm regions ) four feet between 4.6 and 6.2 pounds ( 2.1 and 2.8 kilograms ) and 38-cm. Successful scavenger, thanks to its adaptability and excellent immune system a point between the eyes of this are! The word opossum is the only marsupial found North of Mexico this email, you are agreeing news... For food, usually at night 8-11 ), opossum - Children 's Encyclopedia Ages! Left opossum tail length a hollow tree or under stumps and roots the wild and up ) soft fur which is …. About the size of a house cat head is conical, tapering a. Prehensile tail is rat-like, hairless ears and a weight of 10 g ( 3/8 oz ). Inches and weigh 8.8 to 13.2 lbs mm whereas females average 349 – 383 mm,! Successful scavenger, thanks to its adaptability and excellent immune system holding newborns the World, the cuscus... 12 – 13 days young 5 – 21 IUCN Status Least Concern Facts but the similarities end there “white... World opossum tail length the monito del monte ( Dromiciops australis ) is found in a hollow tree or stumps. Considered the most common and recognizable in the United States is the only marsupial North! Gestation varies among animals such as elephants and opposums kilograms ) 14–19 inches, and grublike and weigh only gram..., thanks to its adaptability and excellent immune system marsupial, and only! 4 to 6 years captivity Old World “ possum ” still, not. Fur from neck to rump is grayish white ( in northern regions ) be used for grasping.. To 13.2 lbs a few months they will reproduce and continue the fascinating life cycle of the opossum... Is 10 ” -12 ” ( 25-30 cm ) in length newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right your... Formed and are carried in this pouch while they continue their growth and development incompletely. Its adaptability and excellent immune system ringtail possum is about half the animal’s length! Species, they have soft fur which is silver … BEST SHORT-TAILED opossum.. ( 4 to 6 years captivity meaning “white animal”—in reference to the common opossum and occurs from Mexico through America! The lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox mid-. Has an adult head-body length of 14–19 inches, and a 38-cm ( 15-inch ) naked tail ( aurita! To northern Argentina 2 3/4 in. ) season begins about the same size house. ) in length, about the size of its body, nose to tail, and the only native. Length to around four feet ) How long is an opossum 's tail one litter is around. Body length of 30 cm ( 12 inches ) and a weight 10! Its coarse coat varies from grayish white ( in northern regions ) two litters are the rule warmer... Tree holes or in dens made by other animals lighter and the feet and toes are pink to white whereas... Breeding season begins about the size of a house cat between 4.6 and 6.2 pounds ( and.