Thursday, October 26, 2017

How Many Possums Per Spoon?







Possums are North America's only marsupial and have tremendous numbers of young and more teeth any other furbearer in North America.

The bottom picture shows 7 baby possums in a tea spoon at about the time they first make it into their mother's pouch. The middle picture shows the location of the pouch. Pouch mortality is fairly high, and usually only five to eight baby possums survive to peek out in the world two months after being born. Most possums die within the first 9 months of life (killed by cats, dogs, cars, fox, poison, disease, traps, and coyotes) and few make it to age three.

A typical female possum will have two litters a year, each with as many as 18 young. The gestation period for a possum is just 13 days -- the shortest gestation period of any mammal in North America.

Opossums prefer low, damp, wooded streams and swamps. They are nocturnal, and will shelter in hollow trees, firewood racks, brush piles, groundhog burrows, and crawl spaces under houses and outbuildings during the day. Possums are very common in suburbia where they often dine on school-yard refuse, dead squirrels in the road, and cat and dog food left out on people's stoops. Complete omnivores, their tracks looks like those of a space-alien, while their scat can come in any shape and color.

Though possums will hiss a great deal, they are not very formidable creatures, as their teeth are too small, their brains too small, and their response time relatively slow when compared to raccoon, fox, or groundhog.

6 comments:

Clementine said...

I have several where I live. Have a soft spot for 'em, considering they are so slow and never hurt anything or anyone. Really no bother. Raccoons on the other hand...
Anyway, great photos.

Jennifer said...

Not to be petty, but those are not possums. They're Opossums! Possums and Opossums are both marsupials, but they belong to different orders, and different hemispheres. I'm pretty sure they diverged when Gondwannaland broke up.

Mauro said...

I've always heard brain size doesn't mean much, though from what I've seen opossums truly are fairly stupid.

PBurns said...

If you call Didelphis virginiana an O-possum in the U.S., we are pretty sure you have never seen or touched one. :)

Rick said...

I won't kill them, they're harmless. My dogs, on the other hand.....

Jennifer said...

I have seen, touched, smelled, and attempted to eat opossum. When I was a kid, my parents had a three-day rule: I could keep any animal I caught for three days. The opossum wasn't a great success. It was snarly, stinky, dim witted, and unpleasant to touch. We were happy to let it go. More recently, when I lived in Florida, my (elderly rural, black) neighbors proudly brought me some greasy, disgusting cooked 'possum, which nearly made me puke, though the dog's liked it. Possums in Oz and NZ are nothing like the New World species. They are quick, cute, and soft-coated. They're hated in NZ, where the brush tailed possum is a major introduced pest and he'll on native bird populations, though their hair is combined with high grade wool to make luxury soft socks, gloves and scarves. In Oz, on the other hand, possum is used as a term of endearment. The taxanomic distance between possum and opossum is greater than that between canine and feline.