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North American Opossum with winter coat.Young OpossumVirginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) in a juniper tree in northeastern Ohio.
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Opossum Facts

Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
Didelphis Virginiana
The animal group that the species belongs to
What kind of foods the animal eats
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
15-45cm (5.9-18in)
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
0.5-6kg (1.1-13lbs)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
25km/h (15mph)
How long the animal lives for
2-7 years
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Least Concern
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Black, Brown, White, Grey
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Favourite Food:
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
Forest and farmland close to water
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from
Fruit, Insects, Frogs
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Fox, Cat, Birds of Prey
Special Features:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Long prehensile tail and sharp claws

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Opossum Location

Map of Opossum Locations
Map of North America


The opossum is a medium-sized animal that is found inhabiting farmland and forested areas of North America. The opossum is thought to have evolved from the basic marsupials that lived in the jungles of South America.

The opossum is often referred to as a possum, although there is no direct link between the possums of Australia and the opossum of America. The opossum is the only species of marsupial that is found outside of Australia and it's surrounding islands.

The opossum is found inhabiting areas of grassland, farmland and woodland in North America. The opossum is also found in urban areas where the opossum can be a pest as it feeds on rubbish, and food that it finds lying around. The opossum is generally found in areas that are close to water. Opossums are also thought to have some immunity towards the venom of certain snakes such as pit vipers and rattlesnakes.

The opossum is an omnivorous animal and will eat almost anything that it can find. Opossums mainly feed on insects, frogs, birds, snakes, small mammals, and earthworms. The opossum is also a great scavenger and will feed on leftover kills of other animals along with road-kill.

The opossum has a number of natural predators in its environment although the main predators of the opossum are birds of prey such as owls and eagles, dogs, foxes and cats. Humans are one of the main predators of the opossum as they hunt them for meat but the opossum is also commonly killed on the roads by cars.

As with all marsupials, the female opossum has a pouch in which it rears it's young. The opossum gives birth to as many as 15 babies, which are born in just a couple of weeks. After birth, the opossum babies, crawl up into their mother's pouch where they continue to grow and develop until they are a couple of months old.

The opossum is an animal that is not threatened with extinction although due to deforestation and habitat loss, opossums are becoming increasingly common in urban and suburban areas.

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First Published: 13th October 2009, Last Updated: 22nd April 2020

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2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) The Encyclopedia Of Mammals [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2010]
4. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 13 Oct 2009]
5. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 13 Oct 2009]
6. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 13 Oct 2009]