Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008, PO Box 37012 By becoming a member, you'll help the Zoo save species and get great benefits for you and your family each time you visit! The Virginia opossum is the only native marsupial found in North America and its population is exploding in New York. Darin enthalten ist die Schwanzlänge, die bis zu 45 Zentimeter betragen kann. [19] This is the genesis of the term "playing possum", which means pretending to be dead or injured with intent to deceive. It was intentionally introduced into the West[5] during the Great Depression, probably as a source of food,[9] and now occupies much of the Pacific coast. Info: Das Virginia-Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), das auch Nordopossum genannt wird, zählt innerhalb der Familie der Beutelratten (Didelphidae) zur Gattung der Opossums (Didelphis). In December 2010, a cross-eyed Virginia opossum in Germany's Leipzig Zoo named Heidi became an international celebrity. The National Opossum Society. [39] Gestation lasts 11-13 days and the average litter size is 8-9 infants, although over 20 infants may be born. Although the opossum is not endemic to Vermont, a stable population has been established here. [24] Small animals include young rabbits, meadow voles, mice, rats, birds, snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, and crayfish. [39] The female's estrus cycle is 28 days and lasts 36 hours. Mammals of the Eastern United States. Their fur is typically grayish, but it may range from a reddish, brownish or even blackish hue. [24] Opossums in urban areas scavenge from bird feeders, vegetable gardens, compost piles, garbage cans, and food dishes intended for dogs and cats. Virginia opossums do not hibernate but reduce their activity during the coldest seasons. ", Filed Under: Mammals, Mammals - Coastal & Coastal Upland, Game animals and shooting in North America. Opossums have adapted Like other marsupials, Virginia opossums are polygynous, meaning that males may have multiple female partners during the mating season, which starts in January or February and extends into June or July. Virginia opossums are generalist omnivores and will eat almost anything. They are not adept at digging, so they often utilize burrows that anothe… [18][21] Besides discouraging animals that eat live prey, playing possum also convinces some large animals that the opossum is no threat to their young. The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), commonly known as the North American opossum, is the only marsupial found north of Mexico. The Virginia opossum is a competent climber and swimmer and can reach a running speed of 4.6 mph (7.4 km/h). 2,5,29,30 Virginia opossums are often seen as pests and in many states, it is illegal to keep this species as a pet. [42] The male's penis is also bifid, with two heads, and as is common in New World marsupials, the sperm pair up in the testes and only separate as they come close to the egg. The Virginia opossum has a thick body, short legs and a long prehensile tail that it uses to grasp and carry small objects – it can even briefly hang by its tail. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found north of Mexico. Opossums are known for feigning death, or pretending to be dead, whenever they feel threatened or scared. If threatened, an opossum will either flee or take a stand. It is a successful opportunist. When Walsh dissected the carcass of UMMZ 178776 back in Ann Arbor, she found a full stomach containing sunflower seeds and muscle tissue, hair and unidentified bone fragments from small mammals. Helping maintain healthy habitats for wildlife will help protect this species. If the animal is moving slowly a tail drag mark may be noticeable, but an opossum typical holds its tail off the ground when walking. The National Opossum Society is an all-volunteer not-for-profit, tax-exempt charity, founded December 5, 1986. While she doesn't have any rock-solid numbers, Naumann says anecdotally the opossum population is thriving. Within their fur, this species has long white tipped guard hairs. Opossums have 50 teeth…all the more to eat you with…just kidding. Populations of this common mammal have remained stable or increased for many years. [46] The rapid senescence of opossums is thought to reflect the fact that they have few defenses against predators; given that they would have little prospect of living very long regardless, they are not under selective pressure to develop biochemical mechanisms to enable a long lifespan. Opossums are wanderers, being nomadic and not staying in one specific territory. VIRGINIA OPOSSUM POPULATION 157 TABLE 1.-Numbers of captures of opossums and raccoons on treatment areas at the Cross Timbers Experimental Range, Payne County, Oklahoma before (1998-1999) and during (2000-2001) removal of raccoons. Virginia opossums have 50 teeth and their thumbs lack claws. Virginia opossums occupy a variety of habitats, ranging from deserts to wet meadows, but prefer living in woodlands and thickets near a source of water. [64] She appeared on a TV talk show to predict the 2011 Oscar winners, similar to the World Cup predictions made previously by Paul the Octopus, also in Germany. Opossums have gray and white wiry fur covering most of their bodies, which is softer to the touch than it appears. Along with helping keep tick populations under control, the Virginia opossum provides numerous benefits to the environment that might be overlooked by the general public. Females may live in Australia and their habitat to 36 inches ) Weight 2.7 to 5.9 kg 6! 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