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Possums, also known as opossums, are nocturnal marsupials of the family of Didelphimorphia. Their scientific name is Phalangeriformes, and they are native to Australia and the islands of New Guinea and Sulawesi.
The opossums (the name given in North America) are the only marsupial native to North America. Though being underestimated, Possums are pretty interesting, uncover exciting facts about Possums and find out what possums eat?
An adult possum is about forty inches tall, with a long, pointed face and a small tail. They are usually grey colored and sometimes white and have about four legs. They are nocturnal creatures with poor eyesight. They are not blind, as you may have heard sometimes. Their vision improves at night which helps them to hunt better at night.
Like all the other animals, possums are designed to live in the trees and forest area. With civilization, Possums have adapted to living near human society. The question remains, what do possums eat in their natural habitat? And what do possums eat while living among human civilization?
What Do Possums Eat?
Types Of Possums
There are many types of possums, diverse among the whole universe because there is no space to cover all of them, for instance, Virginia opossum, common brushtail possum, and big-eared possum.
1. Virginia Opossum
Virginia opossum is usually found in North America and Northern Mexico. The average height of a male opossum is around thirty inches, and that of a female is twenty-eight inches.
They have long heads with round ears and pointed noses. They have about fifty teeth and white or gray fur, depending on their genes. These opossums can also play dead like the others. Not voluntarily, of course!
2. Common Brushtail Possums
Common brushtail possums are commonly found in Australia and New Zealand. They weigh about 2.4 kilograms and have significant, bushy tales.
They have grey hairs and pointed ears. Because of their poor eyesight, these nocturnal marsupials prefer living in wooden regions and communicating and finding food by their scent.
Fun Facts About Possums
1. Play Dead
Possums can play dead to save themselves from predators, even though this skill isn’t voluntary. They merely do it due to the tension the predators create in their minds.
Due to this, the opossum stares ahead into the sky with its tongue out and also emits a poignant odor, playing dead as its defense mechanism. It primarily works and is a massive bonus for them.
Even though it’s hard to believe, but Possums have a considerable belief in keeping themselves clean. They lack sweat glands, and that helps with the management of the smell. They constantly clean themselves with their tongues to remain sanitary. Much like the cats do to keep themselves clean. Their natural scent is odorless, which may come off as a shock because of the poignant smell they emit for their defense.
3. Reduce The Chances Of Lyme Disease And Others
Possums have an effective immune system that helps to fight off diseases. And because of the habit of cleaning themselves, possums remove the ticks they inhale or catch by any chance, preventing the spread of Lyme disease. Some laboratory tests also prove that they are helpful for their help in understanding other conditions.
4. Helps With Pests
You may hate Possums, and they might seem a significant burden to your big garden, but they provide effective pest control for it and can be beneficial animals.
They eat the household pests which ruin your beautiful garden, and you so want to get rid of them. These include snails, mice, roaches, and slugs. They will help you with free pest control and bring back the shine of your garden.
5. Good Memory
Possums have an excellent memory and would remember the place they last devoured their food and even differentiate between good and bad foods.
6. Immunity To Snake Venom
Possums are indeed immune to most of the snake venoms. This means they can even eat snakes without worrying about the poison and how it can harm them. Scientists even tried to recreate this antivenom, and the peptide found worked on mice.
What To Feed Baby Possums?
Apart from your curiosity about what possums eat, you may also have been wondering about the diet of baby possums, maybe because you found one in your garden and don’t know what to do with them. You will find the answer to that question here too.
Since possums lack placenta, the baby opossums stay in their mother’s pouch until they’re mature and start finding themselves their food which usually takes eighty days.
But until then, you shouldn’t try to feed the young opossums. They may die. To feed baby possums requires expert surveillance. But after they are out of the pouch, you can provide them by following the respected norms:
1. Pet Food
Once the baby possums are big enough, you can feed them with pet foods, cats, or dogs, whichever you have, and can buy easily. You need to keep the amounts in check so you don’t overfeed them.
You can also feed the baby possums with dead animals like cockroaches, rats, and snails. They love these foods.
What Do Possums Eat
Now it’s time to answer your question, “What do possums eat ?”, here lies their daily diet, which may prove to amuse you.
1. Dead Animals
Possums are scavengers by nature and would eat anything to survive. Their daily diet consists of dead animals and rodents like mice, snails, cockroaches, even carrion, and, like we discussed earlier, can be a good pest repellent because of this. Since the pests are scavengers like the possums and want the same food, the possums like to keep them under their control.
Calciums are a massive part of a possum’s diet, and because bones are a significant source of calcium, they even eat the skeletons of animals and small rodents to help them survive.
3. Garbage Cans
The scavenger side of possums is ready to browse garbage cans for food and survival. You will often find them rummaging through the trash cans for even the little scraps of food. They will eat anything as long as they need it. And you know very well that they are scavengers in nature.
4. Dog And Cat Food
Possums like dog and cat food and can survive on them. They won’t have trouble staying on anything. They may even like the scraps or leftover food for pets like dogs and cats.
5. Fruits And Vegetables
Even though they’re good pest repellents, they can still devour the fruits and eat vegetables in your yards. They can eat any fruits or vegetables they get their eyes on. They can also eat up your precious plants in your beautiful garden.
Apart from these, opossums can eat anything. And when I say anything, I mean anything they can get their paws on.
Since possums are omnivorous, they eat other animals, including insects and natural vegetation, in their natural habitat. Since possums have now adapted themselves around humans, what do possums eat among humans?
Possums find food among humans and insects and fruits from their primary diet and other leftover food. With their immense active instincts, possums have survived through harsh conditions and changes in their habitat.