Creature Feature: Virginia Opossum

This week’s featured creature is the one and only Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)…Literally! The nocturnal critters we know as “possums” are the only marsupials to be found north of Mexico. We associate marsupials with Australian species like kangaroos and wallabies, but this group of pouch-adorned mammals likely evolved in the Americas. Possums give birth to multiple young every year–each the size of a bumblebee! The babies crawl into their mother’s pouch and stay there for several months until they are ready to explore the world. At this point, they transition to riding on their mother’s back.

We typically lump possums in the category of animals that include raccoons, crows, and pigeons–all animals that benefit from living around humans. Because of their close proximity to us, possums are often seen as a “pest” species. However, they actually provide us plenty of benefits! Possums like to eat slugs and other insects that can wreak havoc on our gardens. They also eat ticks, which significantly decreases the spread of Lyme disease. Unfortunately, living so close to humans can have fatal consequences for possums. If you do have a “possum problem”, give Humboldt Wildlife Care Center a call at 707-822-8839 for help on how to part ways humanely. Also, keep your eyes peeled when driving at night or in the evening as possums will be out looking for mates as Spring approaches.

PC: TexasEagle on Flickr
Sources: @bird_ally_x and Wikipedia — Virginia Opossum