How and Where Do Possums Sleep- Everything You Need to Know

© Bryce McQuillan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley

Updated: October 26, 2023

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Possums are primarily active at night, that is, they are nocturnal, so they sleep during the day. Sometimes, people refer to the possum as “opossum.” These two are different animals; the latter is a marsupial found in North America, while the former can be found in Australia, China, and New Zealand.

There is a common misconception about these mammals and their sleeping pattern. People believe they sleep by hanging on a tree with their tails. This isn’t true, however, because possums do not possess enough muscles in their tail for this.

In this article, we’ll be discussing how possums sleep and where they sleep in.

Where Do Possums Sleep?

Animals with Opposable Thumbs-possum

Possums sleep in nests, dens, and abandoned buildings.

©Timothy Christianto/

Possums sleep in nests in hollow trees or dens inside caves, attics, and abandoned buildings on the ground. They don’t like the light, so they usually find places that are well covered during the day to sleep. Typically, any place well-covered, safe from predators, and free will be perfect for a possum to sleep in.

While some possums are arboreal and only come to the ground to search for food, others sleep on the ground and only climb trees to search for food. Anywhere that is close to food and water is also an acceptable area for possums to sleep in.

The following are a variety of places possums like to sleep:

Dens of Other Animals

Several animals dig into the ground to create space for living or sleeping, but possums do not. Possums are very lazy when it comes to building their nests. They prefer to use the nest or dens of other animals for sleeping. They frequently use the dens of moles and armadillos.

Between Buildings

In urban areas, you’ll often find possums making nests between the buildings. They carry materials from outside to build their nest in the spot they have chosen.


Attics are very warm, comfortable, and cozy, not to mention very safe from predators. You’ll often find possums in the attic for these reasons.


Possums that live near farmlands often use the barns to create nests for sleeping. They use the hay found in the barn as material for their nest.


Trees with hollow holes die to fungi attack, and they are the perfect nesting grounds for possums. Although most of them sleep on the ground, the species of possums that are arboreal sleep on trees. Sleeping on trees keeps them safe from predators.

Rock Crevice

This is one of the most protected places a possum can sleep in. Rock crevices are sturdy spots that possums can fit into perfectly. Also, predators can’t enter the crevice through its narrow opening, so possums can safely sleep here without the danger of predators.

Different Species of Possums and Their Sleeping Habitat


Possums sleep in places near food and water.

©Lisa Hagan/

There are various species of possums, and each one has a unique place and way of sleeping. Here are some of the types and their sleeping habitat:

The Ringtail Possum

This possum native to South Australia sleeps in nests inside hollow trees. The nests are made up of stacks of dry leaves.

The Rock-Haunting Ringtail Possum

This possum is native to the rocky region of Western Australia, and it usually sleeps on rock ledges that are well protected.

The Little Pygmy/Tasmanian Pygmy Possum

This is the smallest possum in the world, and it can be found mainly in Tasmania. These arboreal possums sleep on dome-shaped nests made up of tree barks.

The Common Brushtail Possum

This is the second-largest possum in the world, and it is native to Australia. This solitary and arboreal mammal sleeps in tree hollows, caves, and roofs of houses.

The Western Pygmy Possum

Native to Southern and Southwest Australia, this possum sleeps in nests made up of tree barks and nests made by the babbler – a type of bird.

The Feathertail Glider Possum

Also known as the pygmy gliding possum, this glider is the smallest gliding possum in the world. It can be found in Eastern Australia, and it sleeps in nests in tree hollows. The nests are made up of leaves and tree barks.

The Common Spotted Cuscus

The cuscus is native to New Guinea and some parts of Australia. It sleeps among rocks, on branches of trees, and sometimes under tree roots

Do Possums Sleep In One Place For Long?

Possums can’t protect themselves adequately against predators, so these marsupials don’t stay in a particular place for very long. The only possum that remains in a specific nest for very long is a female possum with babies. Other possums move their nests frequently to prevent predators from locating them.

Where Do Possums Sleep During The Winter?


Possum are lazy, so they prefer sleeping in nest/dens of other animals.

©Peter Firminger / CC BY 2.0, Flickr – Original / License

Possums look for places that are dry and well covered to sleep during the winter. This is when you will find them in attics or abandoned buildings.

Winter is a difficult time for possums because, unlike raccoons who possess the ability to bulk up on fat for winter, they can’t do this. Possums don’t have hair on their ears, tails, and toes, making them very susceptible to frostbite in these areas. 

The best of a possum during the winter is made up of dry leaves, some soft materials, and tree barks to keep them well insulated from the cold.

Some Facts About The Possum

  • The gestation period of a brushtail possum is around 18 days.
  • Possums are very territorial. They mark their territories by utilizing secretions from glands close to their tails, chins, and chests.
  • They communicate through sound and smell, especially during the mating season.

Unlike opossums that play dead to defend themselves from predators,  ringtail possums protect themselves with sharp teeth and claws.

Do Possums Make Good Pets?

Baby possum sitting on pedestal

Though they are cute and are said to be capable of being affectionate, owning a possum as a pet would be very challenging.

©Becky Sheridan/

You may find yourself wondering if possums are animals that people ever keep as pets. The truth is, these critters would be very difficult to take care of. Firstly, possums are used to a lot of walking in their natural environment, so keeping them captive in an enclosure would not be beneficial to their overall health and well-being. 

Secondly, they would need a diet of fresh foods like they consume in the wild. Any foods they might consume that are out of the ordinary could cause them to develop bone disease, other health conditions, or to become obese. There would also be challenges with getting a possum proper veterinary treatment, as traditional veterinarians don’t typically deal with them.

While some people claim that possums have the ability to be affectionate, and their overall disposition tends to be shy and docile rather than aggressive, it’s not advisable to keep one as a pet.

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