While working in a large Animal Shelter, I had contact with tens of thousands of opossums! Thank goodness, a few years ago the County stopped accepting trapped wildlife so, people had to learn how to live peacefully with Opossums.
Lots of people think that Opossums are aggressive because of their big mouths and 50 sharp teeth! Actually, Opossums are solitary, gentle and placid creatures. Adults are usually very slow moving and will only open their mouth to show their teeth and hiss when fearful. They do not initiate aggression. They’ll retreat whenever possible.
Opossums are actually quite beneficial to our neighborhoods. They are omnivores, so that they eat both meat and plant. They are basically scavengers, cleaning up the rotten fruit and debris in our yards, as well as carrion (dead road kill, etc.) They will eat insects, snails, slugs, worms, berries, nuts, grass, leaves and pet food. They are very flexible and make due with whatever food and water is available. Pretty much every yard has Opossums walking around at night. Trust me, they are not a threat to you or your pets.
The tail could be 9″ to 21″ long. They use their thick, prehensile tail to scale and occasionally to carry leaves, etc.. Opossums can live in trees however, the adults can’t hang by their tails while they sleep. Opossums will make a den in any dark, quiet place. They do not put much effort into making a house.
Opossums are North America’s only marsupial mammal (female that has a pouch for carrying her young).
The Opossum’s mating season is from February to June. They become adults and begin mating at @ 1 year old. They can have 1 – 2 litters per season, depending upon the climate. The gestation (period from conception to birth) is only 12 – 14 days. The mother has 13 teats and that is the maximum number of infants she can nurse. Usually, 13 babies will not make it into the pouch and of those that do, only about 3 to 6 will make it to weaning age. The infants are born undeveloped embryos. They’re only about 1/4″ long and about the size of a Honey Bee. As soon as they are born, they scoot into the mothers pouch where they latch onto a teat. After the babies latch on, the teat swells and elongates and they stay there constantly. At 1 to 2 months old they will move in and out of the pouch and cling to the moms fur on her back while she travels around.
The babies are weaned at 2-3 months old and are considered juveniles. At this time they are 6″ to 7″ long. They become independent of the mother when they are 6 – 12 months old and about 7″ to 10″ long. They become mating adults when they’re @ 1 year old. The adult males are larger than the females.
When Opossums are really frightened, they could enter an involuntary “shock – like” or “fainting state.” They first awaken by wiggling their ears.
When they are unconscious, they usually have an open mouth and seem to be dead.
Opossums just live 2 – 4 years. They’ve a lot of predators! Between individuals, cars, dogs, cats, owls and bigger wildlife, Opossums don’t survive very long.
So, the next time you see one roaming around at night, try to look the other way.
They really aren’t as bad as they look. If you would rather not have an opossum around you can call Port St Lucie Rat Removal to humanely relocate them.