SPECIES  PERPETUATION

    FEMALE VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS ARE REPRODUCTIVELY MATURE AT 6 - 10 MONTHS AGE

    MALE VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS ARE REPRODUCTIVELY MATURE AT 8 - 9 MONTHS OF AGE

    female has body characteristic specific for species perpetuation
    external maternity pouch called the MARSUPIUM

    the pouch is on the outside of the skin of the abdomen
    the pouch is like a pocket
    pouch has a lateral opening across the abdomen
    from side to side

    marsupium pouch is where babies continue to develop after birth
    opening of pouch is facing tail
    mother has 13 nursing nipples inside pouch
    nursing nipples are arranged in a circular pattern with one nursing nipple in the middle
    this arrangement allows for the best use of space so the most amount of babies can fit

    there is definitely one period of mating for VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS every year
    there may be more than one period of mating for some VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS
    all females will attempt to mate during the first period of mating
    in north .. January - February
    in south .. December - January
    then the VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS in the south may mate again
    in the north may have only the 1 litter
    in the south may have up to 3 litters  .. March .. May .. August

    period of mating is timed so babies as newly weaned young adult VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS will leave mother
    when the most food is available
    scientists do not know exactly how male and females locate each other
    but .. scent marks help males locate females
    females in estrus make urine marks when they are actively seeking mates

    female in estrus for only 36 hours
    however successful mating only can occur during the first 12 hours of this time

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS have a very brief courtship time
    a male approaches a female only in estrus
    makes metallic sounding vocal clicking noises
    attempts to nuzzle female
    if she is receptive they will mate

    gestation period for female is 12 - 13 days
    short gestation means that the babies are born underdeveloped and finish developing in pouch ..
    but they have to travel from the birth canal to the pouch THEMSELVES !!!
    mom gives birth sitting up ..
    moments before the babies are born she licks a strip of fur from birth canal to pouch opening
    this moistened path helps the babies to find their way to the pouch
    the moisture helps keep the babies form getting stuck in her fur
    the babies are moist and if her fur was dry they could get stuck

    the birth period for all the babies lasts for only 5 - 10 minutes     ! ! !

    AMAZING !!!
 

    BABY  BYTES

    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM HAS MORE THAN 1 BABY AT A TIME
    THE GROUP OF BABIES CALLED A LITTER
    A LITTER OF BABIES CAN BE BORN FROM JANUARY - OCTOBER
    TIME OF YEAR WHEN LITTER IS BORN DEPENDS ON WHERE MOTHER LIVES

    all babies are born very quickly
    as soon as the babies are born they crawl from the birth canal opening to the maternity pouch
    mom helps guide them to the pouch
    babies are born with tiny claws on their little front paws
    they use these little claws to grasp and clutch the fur on mom's abdomen to get to pouch
    from birth canal opening to maternity pouch is about 3 inches
    ( BUT THAT IS A HUGE DISTANCE FOR A LITTLE TINY BABY ABOUT THE SIZE OF A KIDNEY BEAN )
    the babies locate mom's pouch by scent

    mom's pouch has 13 nursing nipples
    only 13 babies can be nursed

    mom usually has 7 babies

    she may have between 5 - 25 babies .. but the most she can raise is 13

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUM BABIES ARE BORN VERY EARLY IN THEIR DEVELOPMENT
    VIRGINIA OPOSSUM babies are very very very very very  tiny   !
    look a bit more like worms than opossums
    shaped like kidney beans
    weight at birth  .007 ounces
    length 7/16 of an inch
    width  3/16 of an inch
    eyes closed at birth
    no fur
    pink skin

    babies cannot regulate body temperature
    the pouch is how they stay warm

    the babies ONLY food is their mom's milk
    the babies eat ONLY milk for 50 - 70 days
    this period of nursing is called the period of lactation
    mom VIRGINIA OPOSSUM has special physical adaptation of nursing nipples that helps keep babies constantly attached
    during nursing
    when baby gets mouth to a nursing nipple .. the nursing nipple swells inside mouth
    the baby VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is then locked on and cannot let go
    remain locked for 50 - 70 days
    baby VIRGINIA OPOSSUM nurse almost continuously for 50 - 70 days
    the routine of baby VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is
    EAT  SLEEP  EAT    
    EAT  SLEEP  EAT
    repeat
    repeat
    repeat  ! ! !

    baby VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS have special physical adaptation that allows them to nurse almost continuously ..
    passage from nasal chamber in snout to lungs for air
    and
    passage from mouth to esophagus to stomach for milk
    both totally separated from each other
    these 2 separate passages enable the baby VIRGINIA OPOSSUM to nurse and breath at same time !!!
    without suffocating or drowning !!!!

    wow !! SUPER AMAZING !!


    BABIES EYES OPEN 3 - 4 WEEKS OF AGE
    AT 8 WEEKS BABIES ARE 2 INCHES LONG EXCLUDING TAILS
    HAVE FUR


    during entire time of nursing .. mother cleans pouch ..
    after 50 days .. babies are able to let go of nursing nipples
    the babies remain in the pouch for 3 more weeks
    they are able to come out of pouch for first time at about 10 weeks of age

    can leave pouch for brief periods
    return to nurse

    baby is as big as mouse at time he can come out a little bit

    at 10 weeks of age babies  ..
    crawl onto mom
    crawl into nest
    cuddle together
    sleep
    go into pouch to nurse

    stay in nest a bit while mom forages for food
    pouch now too small to hold them all
    though they still nurse .. they must take turns

    now follow mom as she forages
    sometimes ride on her back

    they practice gripping her tail with their tails
    mom holds her tail over her back with tip toward her head .. so babies can grip and hang on with their tails
    this practice helps to make their prehensile tails super strong

    when babies come out of pouch .. mom pays a lot of attention to them
    she makes a clicking sound and they come running to her

    at about 12 weeks of age .. they begin to be weaned from eating only mom's milk

    when babies leave pouch for last time
    stay near mom for about 4 more weeks

    as soon as baby young adults can take care of themselves they go off on their own

    from the point of mating to time babies are independent young adult VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS
    is a time period of 3 1/2 months   ...
    WOW!!

    young adult VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS are first seen on their own in APRIL and MAY
 
 

    FOOD

    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM IS OMNIVOROUS

    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM EATS ONE OF THE MOST VARIED DIETS OF ALL ANIMALS IN THE WORLD !

    BABY FOOD
    first 2 months the babies eat only their mother's milk

    ADULT FOOD
    their diet is mostly vegetables and fruits
    their diet changes with the seasons and with what is available
    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS eat almost any vegetable or animal food

    strawberries
    vegetables
    greens
    berries
    acorns
    grubs
    eggshells
    bones
    crayfish
    turtle eggs
    small mammals
    fruits
    earthworms
    amphibians
    green vegetation
    insects
    bird eggs
    carrion
    maggots
    reptiles
    small invertebrates
    grains
    nuts
    fungi
    mushrooms
    frogs
    snakes
    young mice
    tender roots
    fish

    will eventually hunt only adult mice and snakes

    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is a forager
    ( FORAGE is to search and look for food )

    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM forages in the layer of leaf litter covering the forest floor
    forages in trees for all sorts of food
    hunts and searches for food at night
    spends a great deal of time foraging

    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM sniffs the air a lot in order to locate all of their foods

    in the fall they eat lots of acorns which help them to gain lots of fat
    they need to put on a lot of fat to help keep them warm and to help keep them nourished during the winter

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS DIGEST THEIR FOOD SO WELL THAT VERY LITTLE WASTE IS ELIMINATED  
 

    IT'S  A  FASCINATING  FACT   !


    BIOLOGISTS STATE THAT VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS ARE THE LEAST AGGRESSIVE
    OF ALL ANIMALS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD  !

    SOMETIMES A VIRGINIA OPOSSUM MOTHER WILL CARRY AND CARE FOR BABIES
    WHOSE MOTHER HAS DIED

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS are super excellent climbers
    but
    spend most of their time on the ground

    when VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS feign death as a defense
    they curl their lips back
    open their mouths to expose their 50 TEETH
    they expose their teeth to protect their delicate and vulnerable throats  ! ! !

    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is the largest member of the opossum family

    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is NORTH AMERICA'S ONLY MARSUPIAL     .. wow !!

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS  can hang upside down by their very very strong tails  ! ! !

    THE VIRGINIA OPOSSUM HAS MORE TEETH THAN ANY OTHER NORTH AMERICAN MAMMAL !

    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is nocturnal and active at night

    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM sleeps about 16-20 hours per day

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS GENERALLY MOVE RATHER SLOW
    BUT CAN MOVE REALLY FAST WHEN THEY NEED TO

    DO NOT HIBERNATE
    live off fat layer accumulated during autumn
    during very cold weather can actually lower body temperature
    to save energy will enter inactive state for a few days or maybe even a week or two
    this state is called a torpor

    do not tolerate cold weather very well
    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS that live very far north can get frostbite on their exposed
    sparsely furred ears and tail

    PLAYING POSSUM
    if cornered by a predator
    a VIRGINIA OPOSSUM will fall into what appears to be a coma like state
    " playing possum " is NOT A GAME
    " playing possum " is DEADLY SERIOUS  !
    playing possum is the opossum's last chance effort to save its life

    many things happen when the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM "plays possum "
    falls to one side
    body goes limp
    lies motionless
    mouth falls open
    all 50 teeth are exposed
    bottom jaw drops onto chest
    tongue falls out
    releases foul smelling liquid from scent glands
    drools
    urinates
    breathing slows
    heart rate slows
    defecates

    when mouth falls open .. exposed teeth protect vulnerable throat from predator
    may stay like this for several hours or just a few minutes
    predator may lose interest and leave
    or
    pause long enough to give opossum enough time to get away

    scientists do not know how opossums do all this
    scientists used to believe that opossums actually went into a coma
    but now it is known that they are actually extremely alert at this time

    PLAYING POSSUM actually rarely occurs
    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS fall into this state quickly
    they can also snap out of this state also very quickly
 
 

    ENVIRONMENTAL  CONTRIBUTION

    THE ONLY THING THAT EVERY AMAZING ANIMAL IN THE WORLD HAS TO DO TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE ENVIRONMENT
    OF PLANET EARTH IS SIMPLY JUST TO BE ALIVE !

    AMAZING PLANET EARTH IS LIKE A HUGE SPORTS TEAM .. WITH ALL THE ANIMALS BEING REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT
    MEMBERS OF THE TEAM .. ALL EACH ANIMAL HAS TO DO IS JUST BE HERE !!!
    JUST DO WHAT THEY DO NATURALLY .. LIVE THEIR AMAZING LIVES !!!    THAT IS ENOUGH !!!

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS ARE SUPER IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTORS TO THE BIODIVERSITY OF PLANET EARTH
    EVERY SINGLE SPECIES IS SUPER SUPER IMPORTANT TO ALL THE REST
    THE MORE DIVERSE THE ENVIRONMENT OF PLANET EARTH ..
    THE BETTER FOR ALL THE BEINGS THAT LIVE HERE ..

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS CONTRIBUTE TO THE BALANCE OF NATURE
    BY THE EXTREMELY VARIED VARIETY OF FOODS
    THAT THEY EAT
    THEY EAT ALL SORTS OF BITS OF THIS AND THAT AND PREVENT ACCUMULATIONS OF THINGS THAT
    PERHAPS MIGHT NOT BE SO DESIRABLE AS FOOD TO OTHER ANIMALS  
 

    HUMAN  INTERACTION

    THE NAME OPOSSUM IS THE NATIVE AMERICAN POWHATAN LANGUAGE WORD FOR THIS ANIMAL

    IN 1607 THE DAUGHTER OF KING POWHATAN ..
    PRINCESS POCAHONTAS TOLD CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH THAT HER PEOPLE CALLED THIS ANIMAL BY THIS NAME

    JOHN SMITH WROTE IT DOWN AS IT SOUNDED AND THE ENGLISH WORD BECAME OPOSSUM
    AND HAS STAYED THE SAME SINCE THEN
    John Smith wrote in his journal in 1608
    " An opassum hath an head like a swine, a taile like a rat, and is of the bignes of a cat.
    Under her belly she hath a bagge, wherein she logeth and sucketh her young. "

    which means ..
    an opossum has a head like a pig, a tail like a rat, and is as big as a cat
    below her stomach she has a pouch, where inside her babies lodge and suckle


    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS HAVE LIVED IN VERY MUCH THE SAME WAY SINCE GOD CREATED THEM ..
    THEY HAVE TRAVELED THE SAME ROUTES .. FED IN THE SAME WAYS ..
    LIVED IN THE SAME FORESTS .. WETLANDS AND MEADOWS ..
    NOW ..
      HUMAN DRIVEN AUTOMOBILES TRAVEL ON ROADS THAT DID NOT EXIST FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS ..
    NOW .. THESE DANGEROUS AUTOMOBILES TRAVEL AT HIGH SPEEDS AT NIGHT
    AND KILL THESE GENTLE LITTLE ANIMALS AS THEY TRAVEL ALONG WILDLIFE CORRIDORS
    AS THEY HAVE FOR THESE LAST THOUSANDS OF YEARS ..
    HUMAN INTERACTION OFTEN RESULTS IN DEATH
    FOR THESE FASCINATING AND WONDERFUL BEINGS THAT GOD MADE TO LIVE ! ! !
 

    WORLD  STATUS

    the VIRGINIA OPOSSUM is NOT an
    endangered .. threatened or vulnerable species   
    but.. individual opossums are IN DANGER .. encounters with human beings and their
    automobiles mean death to these precious gentle beings !!!!!   THEY NEED OUR HELP !!!

    woodland habitat is IN DANGER of destruction by humans  !!!
    forests NEED our protection and restoration !!!

    27 species of the world's opossums are ENDANGERED
    and therefore in GREAT danger
    and at GREAT risk of EXTINCTION   ! ! !

    47 species of the world's opossums are VULNERABLE
    and therefore in danger and at risk of EXTINCTION  ! ! !  
 

    PROBLEMS

    HUMANS DEVELOP LAND AND DO NOT LEAVE AREAS FOR WILDLIFE ..
    ANIMALS NEED PLACES TO LIVE ..
    NEW HUMAN HOUSE CONSTRUCTION
    JUST SIMPLY TEARS UP THEIR HOMES AND THEY HAVE NOWHERE TO GO  !!!

    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS NEED TREES TO LIVE IN AND AROUND ..
    VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS MAKE THEIR NESTS IN OLD TREES THAT HAVE HOLLOW PLACES IN THE BASE ..
    CUTTING TREES DOWN IS REALLY BAD !!!
    TREES ARE HOME TO SO MANY ANIMALS   !!
    THEY NEED THEIR HOMES !!  
    TREES THAT FALL BECOME HOMES TO MANY ANIMALS ..
    THEY ARE OFTEN CLEANED UP AND HAULED AWAY .. ANIMALS NEED THESE PLACES !!

    THERE IS A HUGE LACK OF EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE ABOUT VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS

    HUMANS HAVE AN INSATIABLE DESIRE TO LIVE AT THE EDGE OF BODIES OF WATER ..
    TO POSSESS THE LAND AND THE VIEW  .. AND OFTEN DO NOT WANT ANIMALS TO COME AROUND
    HUMANS DO NOT NEED TO LIVE RIGHT AT THE WATER'S EDGE ..
    BUT
    VIRGINIA OPOSSUM DO NEED TO LIVE NEAR WATER   ! ! ! ! !


    HUMANS DO NOT RESPECT ANIMALS ENOUGH  !!  

    SOLUTIONS

    WHENEVER THERE IS NEW CONSTRUCTION ..
    LAND NEEDS TO BE LEFT ALONE AND SET ASIDE
    FOR ANIMALS TO LIVE

    we have to preserve and restore forest lands for wild animals to use and NOT for human use
    WE HAVE TO LEAVE FORESTS .. WETLANDS .. MEADOWS ALONE ..
    ANIMALS HAVE TO HAVE PLACES FOR THEIR HOMES  !!!

    kids and parents need to demand curriculum in schools be designed around animals  !

    humans need to rethink living at the water's edge
    animals NEED the land .. humans can live anywhere

    we have to learn to respect all animals including VIRGINIA OPOSSUMS    !
 

    LANGUAGE  LITERATURE  

    POGO POSSUM
    from the daily comic strip called POGO
    from 1948 - 1978 by Walt Kelly
    the comic strip was super terrific !!
    Pogo had lots of neat friends who lived near him in the OKEFENOKEE SWAMP
    Miz Beaver
    Deacon Muskrat
    Churchy LaFemme (turtle)
    Porky Pine  (porcupine)
    Albert Alligator
    Molester Mole
    Dr Howland Owl
    Beauregard Hound Dog
    3 bats - Bewitched .. Bothered .. Bemildred

    WHEN AN OPOSSUM FALLS DOWN AND LOOKS DEAD .. IT IS CALLED " PLAYING POSSUM "
    IF A HUMAN IS PRETENDING TO BE INJURED
    OR
    NOT TELLING THE TRUTH
    OR
    TRYING TO TRICK SOMEONE WITH A JOKE
    WE SAY .. THEY ARE PLAYING POSSUM TOO  !

    in the UNCLE REMUS stories there is an opossum named
    BRER  POSSUM  
    which means .. Brother Possum
    these stories are set in the south of the United States and are all about a bunch of animal characters


    OPOSSUMS APPEAR ON POSTAL STAMPS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD  
 
Virginia  Opossum
 
" says the Lord ..
“I will protect them ..
"
Psalm 12:5
 
  WOODCARVING
PHOTOGRAPHS    
26 inches long
   
 
   
 
   


STRIVE TO BE GOOD
UNDER EVERY SITUATION
AND TO ALL LIVING CREATURES

Thomas Jefferson




GREAT THINGS ARE NOT DONE BY IMPULSE ..
BUT BY A SERIES OF SMALL THINGS .. BROUGHT TOGETHER

Vincent Van Gogh






LET US LIVE TO THE HIGHEST VISION
OF THAT WHICH YOU CAN IMAGINE
AND
GOD WILL TAKE YOU EVEN FURTHER





A BIRD DOES NOT SING TO PROVE THAT IT CAN
IT SINGS BECAUSE IT HAS A SONG
THAT GOD GAVE IT




LOOK AT EVERYTHING AS IF YOU WERE SEEING IT
FOR THE FIRST OR LAST TIME
THEN YOUR TIME ON EARTH WILL BE FILLED WITH WONDER AND JOY
 


Betty Smith
 
" stop and consider God’s wonders   "
Job 37:14
 


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