I accidentally trapped an opossum in a Havahart trap a few years back. An individual may wander over two miles in a night. Males, females, and young also make clicking sounds. Brown four-eyed opossum Lifespan, ageing, and relevant traits Maximum longevity 3 years (captivity) Source ref. But, American southerners often shorten “opossum” to “possum”.  The name opossum is from an Algonquin Indian language which means, ‘white-faced’. Opossums will communicate with hisses, growls, and screeches in hostile encounters with animals and humans. The opossum, I am focusing on here is the Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana). I’ll spare the mutilation details. Now and then a skunk joins a possum and they bump into each other while eating but there is never a “discussion”. Being solitary animals, opossums avoid each other. Virginia opossums are solitary, nocturnal and terrestrial; however, they are also very adept climbers and may den in trees. We see many cases of Metabolic Bone Disease (nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism) in opossums that have been fed poor diets. Quick note: Apparently, the opossum with an ‘o’ is the North American animal. This is what people call ‘playing possum’. However, unlike American opossums, Australian possums have fairly longer lifespans. Opossums don’t make dens but sleep in abandoned dens of other animals. The dead one in my garden lost a fight. That animal had apparently been in a fight and lost. In this way, they keep an ecosystem clean and healthy. Being solitary animals, opossums avoid each other. I realized how common this animal is in my neighborhood. They aren’t built for winter. But most of them still have a tree or land way of life. This is a possum superpower. I’ve seen several dead young opossums in the streets near my home. Opossums, or possums, are the smallest and the stupidest of American terrier quarry. - The life expectancy of an opossum in captivity has been found to be shorter than that of a wild-living opossum, which shows that they survive better in the wild. Possum without the “o” refers to an animal in Australia. Opossum Biology, Life … It was calm enough that I felt okay opening the cage and letting it walk out of the cage. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Cold weather kills a number of them. If the couple doesn’t fall over the female doesn’t conceive. However something like an Virginia Opossum when receiving a proper diet and care have been known to double their life span… They don’t sleep in the same den regularly. In the United States, the animal is typically referred to simply as a possum. This short lifespan is due in part to the presence of many predators including dogs, cats and people. having the capacity to move from one place to another. I always think its’ raccoons, possums, and cats, having disagreements. AN OFFENSIVE ODOR SELLS THE PERFORMANCE. So, do the skunks. TOP SPEED. Wild opossums have a relatively short lifespan of approximately 1.5-2 years. Poor diets can lead to metabolic bone diseases that are expensive to treat and potentially fatal. An individual may live just a few months or a single year. The average lifespan for the Virginia opossum is between two and four years. It is familiar to many North Americans as they frequently inhabit settled areas due to the associated proximity to food sources, notably trash cans. An opossum in captivity can live longer. They are the smallest of the possums. During the breeding season (January to July in the United States), males and females find each other and mate. Short-tailed opossums can be friendly, social pets. Luckily, I didn’t touch the opossum. The opossum has an average lifespan of 1 to 2 years. They tend to be semi-arboreal omnivores, although there are many exceptions. The mother will clean the pouch and any young there, but that is it. It is a solitary and nocturnal animal about the size of a domestic cat. November 3, 2020 Uncategorized. An opossum in captivity can live longer. And how little I knew about them. Virginia opossums are solitary, nocturnal and terrestrial; however, they are also very adept climbers and may den in trees. Very interesting is the protective mechanism of these animals, it deserves special attention. They like cover and places to hide. This post is about the Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), found in eastern North Amerca and introduced along the Pacific coast. An individual may live just a few months or a single year. They eat just about anything. Opossums are scavengers, cannibalistic, and omnivores. Even in captivity, opossums live only about four years. The young are so small about twenty could fit in a teaspoon. I only recommend products and services that I use and believe to be useful and high quality. The Privacy Policy is here. Besides humans, cars, dogs, foxes, and owls, the opossum is free from being hunted. The mother has thirteen teats, of which only seven to ten actually give milk. A picture of a possum playing dead … There was a female a couple of months ago loaded down with babies but have not seen her – or she has left the babies somewhere else. Opossums live in forests of all types, steppes and even semi-deserts. Many possums have frostbitten ears and tails which can lead to gangrene and death. Opossums have a very short lifespan, usually three years or less in the wild, where they have to contend with predators and cars. It also has the ability to faint and appear dead. However, opossums in the wild have a much lower life expectancy and do not commonly make it past their first year of life. Opossums don’t live long. The Virginia Opossums are absent from the Plains and arid southwest of the United States. Young opossum may be eaten by adults. It is possibly opossums getting in scraps with other animals. The North American Opossum is the only marsupial living in the north and parts of Center and South America. It’s late autumn/early winter, and I see dead possums. During the colder seasons, small vertebrates tend to make up a larger portion of their diet, whereas in the warmer seasons, they consume more invertebrates, plant material, fruits and seeds. They also live in the southeast of Canada and the Lesser Antilles. Native Plants of Pennsylvania – Links and Plant Lists, Books about Native Plants and Ecological Gardening, Cavity Nesters: Birds that Use Holes in Trees, A Chipmunk's Winter Sleep (Torpor and Hibernation), Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly - Life Cycle, A Winter Bird Feeding Guide: Attract Birds to Your Backyard (with Video), Birds of Prey of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey: A Checklist, Virginia Opossum Facts, Lifespan, and Habitat, Keeping a Winter Nature Journal with Writing Prompts, amphibians and reptiles (including poisonous snakes). They can make a few standard sounds. I always enjoy seeing these slow, gentle relatives. After three months, the young are weaned and begin to roam away from the mother. They eat meat the main part of their diet. 6 , 11 , 21 , 29 Last summer, I found a dead and mutilated opossum in my flower bed. In captivity, they can live twice as long . Short-Tailed Opossum Behavior and Temperament . Although their lifespan in captivity may be as long as five years, in their natural habitat opossums don’t generally tend to live past the age of two years. Virginia Opossum Courtship and Mating. The Virginia Opossum has a maximal life span in the wild of only about two years. A possum will normally weigh between three and eight pounds, and the brain case of the animal is so small that the skull has a prominent bone ridge whose sole purpose is to give the possum a large enough cranial surface area for the jaw muscles to attach to. A four-year old wild opossum is a rarity. They share their unusually short lifespans with many other marsupials. Lifespan: 2 years in the wild; 4 years in captivity. Thanks for your information. They are known to live for three years in th… They are not good hunters but take advantage of easily obtained meals. Opossums are solitary,  quiet animals. When you learn about how opossums, ‘function’, you realize what a wonderful world we live in. I hope you have enjoyed your visit here and thanks for taking the time to read about "Andy" and come back whenever you can. The average female probably lives through one breeding season in which time she may raise two litters of approximately a dozen young. I must say that such tactics bring great success for the survival of the species. Reproduction & Lifespan Because they have few defenses against predators, Virginia opossums only live about two years. Diet: Omnivorous, eating a wide range of plants and animals. Due to their appearance and size, the North American Opossum (also called Virginia Opossum) can seriously freak people out looking like an oversized rat. Opossum’s lifespan can vary in the wild and in captivity. Learn about short-tailed opossums as pets including feeding tips, housing, and handling. Whales for example have not been known to live their natural life span when placed in captivity. Didelphis virginiana. After birth, the young must crawl three inches to the mother’s pouch. 671 Sample size Small Data quality Acceptable Observations. There are also some real good photographs of Opossums on those pages also. Opossums are usually called Possums in North America. So, I set out to learn about these quiet, unassuming neighbors of mine. The opossum begins to show the signs of aging such as cataracts, motor coordination problems, and weight loss. Predator, sniffing it, often leaves. Didelphimorphs are small to medium-sized marsupials that grow to the size of a house cat. By nature, the possum is very shy and at risk he pretends to be dead, lying motionless, and with the help of special glands gives off an unpleasant smell reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing body. After two weeks, eight or nine young are born. They eat carrion. They are not rodents! Their stomach has a small cecum and like many other marsupials, a forked penis with twin glands is also a physical characteristic of a male opossum. These animals are short-lived in captivity with a record longevity of 3 years . ... For more information on the lifespan of opossums, please read on. Their preferred food is insects, mostly beetles. I hope you find my website useful. Sometimes my cat and my neighbor’ cat are lying around out there too and all ignore one another. Lifespan: 2 years in the wild; 4 years in captivity. They may snap out of it minutes or hours later. I have had possums in my backyard for decades. In captivity, the oldest recorded opossum was four years and five months old. Range lifespan Status: captivity 10 (high) years; Typical lifespan Status: wild 1.5 to 2 years; Typical lifespan Status: captivity 3 to 4 years; Range lifespan Status: wild 2.5 (high) years AnAge; Behavior. Their prepared habitat is wooded or shrubby. A note from one of our members … "I hear that you are thinking about trying to keep a wild opossum baby as a pet, and want to share with you my recent heartbreaking experiences. After this, the animal instantly “comes to life” and runs away. They share their unusually short lifespans with many other marsupials. Falling over seems to be crucial to conception. Even those in captivity have a lifespan of only four years. By nature, the possum is very shy and at risk he pretends to be dead, lying motionless, and with the help of special glands gives off an unpleasant smell reminiscent of the smell of a … During the summer, I sleep with my bedroom window open. They avoid contact with humans, animals, and other opossums. Opossums don’t hibernate, they just are less active. The term ‘possum’ also refers to refer to … Muskrats, about the same size as an opossum, live 3 – 4 years, can have 1 – 4 liters per year averaging 6 – 7 young per liter. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. During the breeding season (January to July in the United States), males and females find each other and mate. Opossum mothers provide very little maternal care. But, they don’t move too far from a temporarily available food source, like my ripening strawberries or blueberries. The opossum slowly walked out of the cage, glanced back at me, and disappeared into the underbrush in my garden. So, that explains why I am often awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of animals fighting. Virginia Opossum. Opossums don’t live long. The oldest opossum ever captured in the wild was only three years old. These animals cause no harm, only come at night, eat then go back to the woods. I do sell inexpensive nature guides in the Book Shop. In captivity, they may survive for longer, if proper nutrition and care are received from a qualified handler. The Opossums family is found only in the Americas. There are species that lead a semi-aquatic life, settling near water bodies, building holes in tree hollows. Learn how your comment data is processed. It is extremely difficult to find the right balance in their diet in captivity and an unbalanced diet can result in severe metabolic disease. Weight: Up to 14 pounds. Virginia Opossums are found in Eastern North America from southern Maine, Southern Canada, and Michigan to South Dakota; south through Mexico and Central America to Costa Rica. Finally, I could have easily doubled the length of this post with more possum fascination. The most common opossums in the Americas, Argentina, but recently they are actively developing more northern territories. Once born, the young instinctively crawl upward into the mother’s pouch where they will nurse for approximately fifty days. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! There are 75 species of opossums in North, Central, and South America. The dead opossums I saw around the corner from my house, had been run over by cars. How Many Babies Can a Possum Have? Look for frostbitten, blackened tips on their tails and ears. Possums also have a short lifespan; around three years or less in the wild. Breath. According to scientists, in prehistoric times, these animals were very widespread in the whole of modern Europe, this is evidenced by the excavation of paleontologists. The Virginia opossum is North America’s only marsupial. They are characterized by a long, naked tail; a long, pointed snout; opposable thumbs in … To anyone reading this I ask that you do not harm our wildlife. During mating the male and female fall over on their right sides. Habitat: Found throughout Central America and North America. They like to eat my strawberries. Scientific name: Didelphis virginiana (Virginia opossum), Didelphis marsupialis (Common opossum) Size: 2.5ft (76cm) from head to tail Weight: 8.8 to 13.2lb (4 to 6kg) Lifespan: Two years in the wild; Can reach four years of age in captivity IUCN conservation status: Least Concern ... Life Expectancy: 4 to 8 years in captivity. They also eat: Some animals will turn to cannibalism in extreme circumstances. They have to deal with predators and human intrusions. In the pouch, the young must attach themselves to a teat. The incisors are very small, the canines large, and the molars are tricuspid. The lifespan of opossum in the wild reaches up to 5 years, in captivity with proper care and diet up to 7 years or more. Learn about short-tailed opossums as pets including feeding tips, housing, and handling. It is a mammal and the only indigenous and wild (read: free) marsupial in North America. But, please don’t condemn a healthy orphan to a life in captivity because of YOUR needs, instead of theirs. Additionally, it is illegal to keep an opossum without a wildlife rehabilitation license in almost every, U.S. state. Thanks for visiting. Animal Control took the dead body away the next day. I hear strange screeches and shrieks. The captive specimens have a maximum life expectancy of about 4 years. At my grandparents’ home, I’ve eaten a wide variety of unconventional meats. In captivity they like all kinds of juices Links To Opossum Pages For some real good information on Opossums, please visit the links listed below. Now this question really has a lot of variables. Opossums are generally very quiet. Now opossums are actively thriving in the New World. fruits, grapes, pokeweed, Pawpaws, berries including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. Any ’surplus’ young die from lack of a teat (food). I’m happy to have them around. They bed down in different dens each night. Opossum Lifespan. MBD can progress to cause immobility and death, if not corrected quickly and appropriately! They wander most in summer. The Virginia opossum, commonly known as the North American opossum, is the only marsupial found north of Mexico. The lifespan of opossum in the wild reaches up to 5 years, in captivity with proper care and diet up to 7 years or more. More information can be found in the Encyclopedia of Life (links to another website). The Virginia opossum is thought to live as long as two years in the natural habitat. It is not a matter of IF the opossum will become ill, it is a matter of when!. Gestation lasts just two weeks. The life span of opossums is very short. It’s tough enough for them without our also being predators. The animal has the ability to excrete a musky greenish fluid from its’ anal glands. Opossums will eat possum young or another possum at any time. 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