North American Opossum

NORTH AMERICAN
OPOSSUM

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I always seem to be the first animal presented in all the North American Mammal Identification field guides. I am part of the most primitive mammal order: Marsupials.  The Algonquins call me “pasum”, the word at the origin of the name you give me: opossum.

Just like the Kangaroo and the Koala, I have a front pouch in which my tiny embryos will develop for 2 to 3 months.  At birth, a litter of 14 individuals can sit in a single teaspoon. Before I send my young off on their own, I transport them on my back for 10 to 15 days.

I am active all-winter long … or almost. During extreme cold weather spells I enter into a state of torpor, usually in an abandoned den.  With no fur on my ears or my tail, I often suffer from frostbite … I hate winter!

In the coming years I will be more and more present in Québec due to climate changes.  In fact, I’m not only often seen now in the Monteregie area, I’ve been spotted on occasion in the heart of Montréal!

Caracteristics

dimension

Total length: 65 - 85 cm
Poids / Weight: M : 1,3 - 5,5 kg ; F : 1,2 - 5 kg

Lifespan

Three years in the wild, seven years under human care

Habitat

Humid and sparse forests, brushy fields bordering wetlands around farms

Diet

Fruits, seeds, insects, worms, amphibians, eggs, small mammals, carrion

Reproduction

In Canada, 1 litter per year. Further South, 2 to 3 litters per year. From 5 to 21 babies (an average of 6-9 survive)

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