5 Sounds Possums Make and What Each Means

Written by Oak Simmons
Published: November 23, 2023
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Opossums are a kind of marsupial, like kangaroos and koalas. These nocturnal animals generally try to avoid being seen or heard by humans and other animals. There are 93 species of opossums, all of which are endemic to North and South America. Endemic means that they are only found in those places. Most species of opossum live in Mexico, Central America, or South America. There is only one species of opossum that lives in the United States and Canada, which is the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana). Virginia opossums are commonly known as possums. While possums generally try to avoid detection, they are occasionally seen by humans at night. This article explores the different sounds possums make and what each means. Let’s discover how these fascinating creatures communicate.

1. Possums are Generally Silent

opossum in tree with babies on its back

Possums are rarely seen during daylight hours.

©Holly Kuchera/Shutterstock.com

More often than not, possums are silent. In order to successfully hunt, as well as avoid conflict with humans and other animals, possums stay quiet. These nocturnal creatures move around in the dark where they cannot be seen or heard. However, there are a few instances in which an opossum will make sounds. Let’s explore these noises and what they mean.

2. Possums Make a Hissing Sound When Afraid

When a possum feels threatened, they may hiss. An example of a situation that may elicit a hiss is being approached by a human or other animal. The hissing sound is meant to keep other animals away, similar to a cat’s hiss. If a possum hisses at you, it is best to keep your distance.

Here is a video of what a hissing possum sounds like:

2. Possums Make a Growling Sound When Afraid

In addition to hissing, possums may also growl when they feel threatened. Their growls serve the same purpose as hissing, which is to warn other animals to stay away. However, possums are generally not aggressive and their growling and hissing sounds simply indicate that they are afraid.

Here is a video of growling joey (baby) possums:

3. Possums Make a Clicking Sound to Attract Mates

These critters also make a clicking sound during mating season to attract mates.

Here is a video of a possum making a clicking sound:

5. Joeys Make a Sneeze-Like Sound to Call their Mothers

Baby possums are called joeys, like baby kangaroos. When a joey needs to call for their mother, they make a noise that sounds similar to a human sneeze! Check it out here:

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Lisa Hagan/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Oak Simmons is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering North American wildlife and geography. They graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. A resident of Washington state, Oak enjoys tracking mammals and watching birds.

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