About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What do Opossums eat?

The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)
What do opossums eat?
Opossums are not picky eaters. Their normal diet consists of carrion, rodents, insects, frogs, and plants including fruits and grains. They do seem to have a particular fondness for cat food, however, especially the tinned varieties.


How big can an opossum get?Most are about the size of a large house cat, from 15 to 20 inches long. They generally weigh 10 to 13 pounds.

Are opossums dangerous to pets?
Opossums will sometimes eat small critters such as mice, reptiles, amphibians. They will leave larger animals alone and, in fact, are more likely to be harmed by a dog or full-grown cat than they are to inflict injury on them. They will rarely fight, despite putting up a fearsome display if threatened, and most likely will simply attempt to flee or play dead. The only animals that should avoid exposure to opossums are horses. Strange as that may sound, if these animals ingest opossum feces they are at high risk of contracting a deadly disease known as
sarcocystosis.

Opossums are nocturnal, but I saw one out during daylight. Is this normal?Opossums are generally nocturnal, foraging throughout the night. But in the winter months many opossums change their foraging habits from night to day in order to try to take advantage of the warmer weather during sunlight hours.

Do opossums carry rabies?Unlike most wild animals, opossums are highly resistant to rabies.

What kinds of noises does an opossum make?Opossums are very quiet creatures. When threatened they often will hiss, like a cat, and can make a low growling sound.

How many babies does an opossum have in each litter?Opposums are marsuipial so mothers carry their young in pouches on their bellies after a 13 day pregnancy. At birth, newborn opossums are so tiny that an entire litter, consisting of 6 to 9 babies, can fit into a single teaspoon. They are so undeveloped that it's impossible for them to survive outside the mother's pouch.

How do I get rid of a bothersome opossum?It is generally not necessary because opossums are transient animal with a territory ranging from 10 to 50 acres. They usually stay in a particular area only a few days at a time and then move on. The best way to avoid being “bothered” by an opossum is simply to make sure no food is available to them. Don’t leave out pet food or table scraps and make sure your trash cans are fully closed. With no food available in your yard, they will simply go search elsewhere.

Do opossums hibernate during winter?
Opossums do not hibernate. Their greatest challenge during winter, especially in colder climates, is simply to survive. It is not uncommon for opossums in northern regions to suffer frostbite during extremely cold periods. Their tails are particularly susceptible to frostbite as they have no fur covering to protect them.


These questions were answered by http://opossum.craton.net/

4 comments:

icare said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
icare said...

Thanks for your post! I love these guys.. they are so cute.. We have to look out for them! I see them on the road all the time! Why can't people watch where they are going?? Can you post a guide when checking the mother for babies if she gets hit?? It happens all to often and it would be better if people were educated and prepared.. Thank you.

gorgelover said...

Thanks for your post. I've been caring for a baby Opossum that fell from a tree one morning while I was watching. It's the size of an eight week old kitten so he'll be set loose into the forest very soon. One of his favorite foods are cherry tomatoes, he gobbles them up and ends up with tomatoe all over his face, very funny to watch.

Anonymous said...

once I found a dead possum on the road stopped to show my children only to find she had 6 babies still alive. they were size of a mouse.eyes still closed. I took them home feed them powdered formula milk I had left from my last child. 3 of them lived they grew to 22 inches long nose to tail. then I took them to a safe area and relesed them. When they ate flyflies their cheeks lite up. I feed them earth worms.