Virginia  Opossum
   
Didelphis  virginiana
   
POSSUM    
OLD  SLOWPOKE          
VIRGINIE  POSSUM
   
    SCIENTIFIC  CLASSIFICATION
    KINGDOM :              Animal
    SUB KINGDOM :     Metazoa
    PHYLUM :                Chordata
    SUB PHYLUM :       Vertebrata
    CLASS :                   Mammalia
    ORDER :                  Marsupialia
    FAMILY :                  Didelphidae
    SPECIES :               Virginiana
    ****************************************************************************************************************************************
    TO LEARN ABOUT THE LINNAEUS SYSTEM OF CLASSIFCATION
    go to ..
    LINNAEUS SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION page   
 
"  the words of the Lord are flawless ..
and will protect us forever
 "
Psalm 12:6,7

    HELPFUL  INFORMATION



    OPOSSUMS ARE VERY ADAPTABLE ANIMALS  

    OPOSSUMS HAVE LIVED FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS
    THROUGH MANY MANY SITUATIONS
    IN MANY VERY VARIED AND CHANGEABLE HABITATS



    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is a mammal

    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is a marsupial

    THERE ARE 260 SPECIES OF MARSUPIALS WORLDWIDE
    THE SMALLEST IS .. Pilbara ningaui
    head and body  .. 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 inches
    tail .. 2 - 3 inches

    THE LARGEST IS ..  red kangaroo
    head and body .. 65 inches
    tail .. 42 inches


    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM HAS SIMILARITIES TO KANGAROOS AND TO KOALA BEARS


    marsupial mammals have a few differences from non marsupial eutherian placental mammals



    THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MARSUPIAL MAMMALS AND PLACENTAL MAMMALS IS THE METHOD
    OF SPECIES PERPETUATION


    THE YOUNG OF MARSUPIAL MAMMALS ARE BORN LESS DEVELOPED THAN THE YOUNG
    OF EUTHERIAN MAMMALS



    PLACENTAL MAMMALS DEVELOP THEIR YOUNG INTERNALLY INSIDE THEIR UTERUS UNTIL THE BABIES
    ARE WELL DEVELOPED
    MARSUPIAL MAMMALS DEVELOP THEIR YOUNG INTERNALLY INSIDE THEIR UTERUS
    FOR A VERY BRIEF PERIOD OF TIME
    THE NATAL OR POST-BIRTH DEVELOPMENT OF THE BABIES IS THEN COMPLETED IN THE MATERNITY POUCH



 

    BIOLOGY
    physical  characteristics


    COLOR
    pale gray with white
    face white
    in southern part of range darker color
    dark brown to almost black
    pink skin
    pink tail
    tail has very sparse amount of hair

    FUR
    body is covered with fur
    fur is rough and coarse
    lengths of fur vary so coat looks shaggy

    SIZE
    adult VIRGINIA OPOSSUM about the size of an adult house cat
    BODY
    length  15-20 inches
    TAIL
    length  10 - 21 inches
    tail almost as long as body
    WEIGHT
    adult VIRGINIA OPOSSUM
    7 - 13 pounds



    HEAD
    FACE
    short white fur on face
    smooth fur on face
    long long snout

    EARS
    large
    dark gray black at base close to head
    with whitish pale pink tips
    paper thin
    very little sparse hair on ears

    SUPER EXCELLENT SENSE OF HEARING  !

    EYES
    large
    very very dark color

    VISION IS VERY GOOD DURING DAYTIME
    VISION IS GREAT AT NIGHT

    NOSE
    pink nose
    long long tactile whiskers around tip of snout near nose
    light colored whiskers
    whiskers feels and communicate sensory information to brain
    nerve at base of each whisker is the method of travel for the sensory information

    SENSE OF SMELL IS VERY VERY VERY GOOD  ! ! !

    MOUTH
    always look like they are smiling
    large
    enormous amount of teeth  !!
    50  teeth    !!!
    all super super super sharp  !

    more teeth than any other animal in NORTH AMERICA

    almost twice as many teeth as most other animals in NORTH AMERICA



    BODY
    POUCH
    maternity pouch is located on the abdomen of female opossums
    4 inches long
    expandable
    fur lined

    FEET
    pink
    have very little sparse hair
    very very flexible feet
    very very strong feet

    front paws
    5 digits (toes) on each of the 2 front paws
    all toes are very long
    all toes are widely separated
    all 5 toes of each paw have a claw
    extremely extremely strong strong claws for gripping and climbing trees

    hind (back) feet
    5 toes on each of the 2 hind feet
    all toes are very long
    all toes are widely separated
    only 4 toes of each foot have a claw
    extremely extremely strong strong claws for gripping and climbing trees
    fifth toe of each hind foot does not have a claw
    fifth toe is positioned with tip towards the tail
    fifth toe acts as a thumb
    fifth opposable thumb-like toe on each foot is a fantastic adaptation for SUPER climbing abilities  !


    FOOT PAW PRINTS
    print sizes
    front paw print
    2 inches wide
    2 inches long

    hind foot print
    3 inches wide
    3 inches long



    TAIL
    tail is very very long
    almost as long as body
    tail is pink
    tail has very little sparse hair
    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM has a PREHENSILE tail
    the tail is used a fifth leg
    the tail is very very very strong
    tail is so strong that the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM can use tail to hang upside down
    they hang upside down by wrapping tail around a branch
    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is the only animal in NORTH AMERICA with a prehensile tail  !! !! !!



    PREHENSILE TAIL
    is a physical characteristic of an animal's tail so it can grab with great strength   





 
 

    LIFESPAN

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS LIVE FOR ABOUT 2 YEARS     ! ! !  
 

    WHERE  IN  THE  WORLD

    AN OPOSSUM IS ANY MEMBER OF A SPECIFIC FAMILY OF FURRY MARSUPIAL MAMMALS THAT LIVE IN
    THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE OF THE WORLD

    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM IS THE ONLY SPECIES OF OPOSSUM IN THE UNITED STATES

    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM IS ORIGINALLY NATIVE TO SOUTH AMERICA AND NOW TO NORTH AMERICA ALSO

    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM LIVES ONLY IN
    NORTH AMERICA
    CENTRAL AMERICA
    NORTHERN SOUTH AMERICA

    THEIR RANGE IS
    from ONTARIO CANADA
    southward into SOUTH AMERICA

    southern CANADA
    south to northeastern NEW ENGLAND
    south through CENTRAL AMERICA

    eastern coast of UNITED STATES
    west to central UNITED STATES

    OREGON UNITED STATES
    south through CALIFORNIA
    south to northern SOUTH AMERICA



    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM IS NAMED
    Didelphis virginiana
    virginiana because the opossums were first noticed by European colonists in the North American English
    colony of VIRGINIA


 

    HABITAT

    THE HABITAT OF VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS CAN VERY GREATLY

    they are comfortable on both the ground and in trees

    they live in
    deciduous forests
    scrubland
    rural country land
    urban city land

    they prefer to be near water
    they usually make their nests on the ground
    they do not dig their own dens

    they will use the existing nest of another animal or build their own

    virginia opossums may share nests with
    rabbits
    skunks
    woodchucks

    they will nest in abandoned nests or dens of other animals
    raccoons
    woodchucks

    old abandoned buildings
    brush piles
    fallen hollow logs
    rock crevices
    abandoned crow nests
    abandoned squirrel nests
    tree roots
    inside hollow tree at base

    the virginia opossum is somewhat nomadic
    they change their sleeping dens constantly
    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS make 5 or 6 nests within their home territory
    about 3/4 of the time VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS use one of their multiple dens for just one night
    before they move on to another
    sometimes they stay in their den nests up to 20 days during winter
    winter dens in the north are always underground because of the cold temperatures

    lined with
    leaves
    soft plant material
    .. soft downy material inside butterfly weed seed pods
    .. thistle down

    building materials transported to nest construction site in a very AMAZING and interesting way  ..
    take mouthfuls of vegetation - leaves - plant down
    pass it down under chin
    between front legs
    uses front paws to pass down under abdomen
    then curls tail forward towards chest under body
    curling and holding tail close to body abdomen
    pushes leaves and other material between body abdomen and tail
    holds tail tight
    carries leaves and nest lining material to den
    then arranges in den with mouth nose and front paws


    the home territory of a VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is within 1/4 of a square mile
    of their most recently used den nest

    young adult female VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS travel and establish themselves
    less than 1/4 mile away from the place of their birth

    young adult male VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS establish themselves a little further away form their birth place

    their range overlaps that of neighboring VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS


    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS build their nests during the middle of the night
    their underground nests have a plug of leaves at the entrance that acts as a door
    in winter the plug is very dense
    the dense plug acts as insulation against the cold of the winter
    just they way that doors do for human homes




 

    SOCIAL  ORGANIZATION


    ADULT VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS ARE SOLITARY ANIMALS

    SCIENTISTS DO NOT KNOW OR UNDERSTAND ALL THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION
    OF VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS

    MALE VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS ARE AGGRESSIVE TO OTHER MALE VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS

    MALES ARE NOT AGGRESSIVE TO FEMALES

    NON ESTRUS FEMALE VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS ARE AGGRESSIVE TO OTHER FEMALE VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS
    IN ESTRUS

      


 

    COMMUNICATION

    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM COMMUNICATES BY USING
    SOUND
    PHYSICAL MOVEMENT
    SCENT

    males scent mark trees by licking or rubbing their faces on an object .. like a tree ..
    other males pick up the scent and cover it over with their own scent mark
    they also stamp their feet aggressively and kick their feet out to the sides laterally as they scent mark

    females respond to the male scent marks by marking nearby with their own urine scent mark

    scent marking occurs all year
    but mostly during mating time

    scent marking helps males locate estrus females
    and
    helps estrus females locate males

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS COMMUNICATE BOUNDARIES BY MARKING THEIR TERRITORY WITH
    BODILY ELIMINATIONS

    WHEN THREATENED .. VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS COMMUNICATE THEIR  " FIERCENESS "
    THROUGH PHYSICAL GESTURES AND VOCALIZATIONS
    deep warning hisses
    growls
    opening their mouths and showing their teeth
    lunging at threat




 
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5 inches tall
   
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
LISTEN  TO  THE  SONG  OF  BIRDS
THAT  GOD  MADE
FROM  HIS  ENDURING  AND  FAITHFUL  LOVE
 
" says the Lord ..
“I will protect them ..
"
Psalm 12:5
 


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