Sunday, November 18, 2012

Opossums - Friend Or Foe?

I never knew much about opossums. I just always saw them as a big ball of fur with a rat tail. I thought they were creatures that had rabies and would bite without being provoked. It turns out that couldn't be further from the truth.

Meet The Opossum!

Opossums are one of the least aggressive animals on the planet. This white creature is about the size of a cat and is the only marsupial in North America. A close relative to the opossum would be the kangaroo.

The gestation period of an opossum is only about 13 days during springtime. A newborn opossum will be the size of an acorn. One of an opossum's babies most distinguished characteristics is that it is born blind but will be able to crawl from the mother's birth canal to her pouch due to the fact that it's legs are long enough to move. The average litter has about 15 joeys. A small percentage of them will live to survive through the sumer.

Their long rat-like tail helps them to climb trees and possibly hang when hiding. However, they do not sleep upside down as many have believed.

Opossum Myths

There are many misconceptions about the opossum. They are one of the animals who are least likely to transmit rabies. They have a low body temperature which keeps them from transmitting diseases. Another misconception is that they are aggressive. On the contrary, they will not bite unless provoked. They just want to be left alone.

Possums are known to play dead. However, this is an involuntary action that protects them and not a conscious action. Opossums are friendly animals in general who are omnivores at heart. They will eat insects, roadkill, cat food and dog food. These smart animals are peace loving and completely docile towards dogs. They are even better at protecting gardens from unsightly insects.

All in all, the opossum is one of the oldest living animals in history. If you happen to encounter one on a dark night, don't be fearful of them. They are no more harmful than a squirrel or a cat.

Let's Discuss!

Have you ever had an unusual experience with an opossum?

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