What Do Possums Eat? A Detailed Diet Guide

4 mins read
What Do Possums Eat

About Possums

Generic Name: Possums

Scientific Name: Phalangeriformes

Type: Mammals

source: Unsplash Credit: Timur Garifov @ All Rights, Reserved.

Possums are a type of opossum, a marsupial whose name means “grasping hands.” Possums are common in most areas of the world.

They are found in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Possums can grow up to 2 feet in length, weigh an average of 7 pounds, and can get over 20 pounds.

In this article about what do possums eat, we will find a lot about this animal. Before we answer the question ‘what do we feed wild possums?’ let’s learn about them in detail.

Possums have a very long lifespan of 13 years to 15 years on average in the wild possum. And up to an estimated 30 years or more for some possums that have been kept as pets.

The only way to sex them is by checking the animal’s pouch while it is sleeping. Pet possums will also come when called. And learn tricks such as fetching their favorite toy or playing dead.

To fend off predators, possums will try to scare them off by stamping their feet or hissing. They have been living in treetops.

Where they build nests that hang out upside down, with their tails acting as the only grip point. Usually on trees or vines that hang down from trees.

Their tails are very strong and have a prehensile tip, so they can be used to hang from branches. They have been found in suburban areas living in trees, houses, under decks, downpipes, and on roofs.

Kinds Of Possums

There are many types of possums, but you will find in North America the Virginia Opossum and the Ring-Tailed Possum.

The Virginia Opossum is often mistaken for a rat. To identify them, it has a pointed snout, whiskers, and long bushy tail. Its fur is coarse and grayish-brown to brownish-gray.

Opossums prefer to live in trees, but they do come down to the ground at night to look for food. Opossums are usually docile and slow. If you find an opossum during the day, she may be sick or scared.

Virginia opossums
Source: Britannica © Stan Tekiela—Moment/Getty Images @ All Rights, Reserved.

Besides having the long, bushy tail of a ring-tailed possum. Its body is grayish and has alternating rings of black and white fur.

The ring-tailed possum is very playful and likes to play with its long tail. You can often find a ring-tailed possum living in trees or near creeks. It is because water is a good source of food for them.

What Do Possums Eat?

Possums are mostly nocturnal. They sleep during the day and come out at night. People might think they have poor eyesight at night. Instead, they have fantastic night vision.

They will forage for food during the night and eat insects, worms, fruit, berries, and fruit flies. In the wild, the feeding habits of an adult possum would be 70% vegetation and 30% animal protein.

The vegetation possum’s diet includes things like trees, berries, leaves, and twigs. Besides, to fill their bellies with all that juicy leafy green goodness.

They also eat vegetables. They also need to consume meats to take in key nutrients such as calcium ions and other minerals.

Among the meat items are small birds, insects, and animals in their prey’s habitat. Their diet is primarily made up of insects like beetles or grubs, which they can usually find at night when they go out hunting. They sometimes get rabies and can be infected with the disease by the bite of a cat.

Some people may assume that possums only eat plants since they were from a land down under, but this is untrue. Possums eat a wide variety of foods. Possum’s diet changes depending on their location and the season.

When we think about what we call a “niche.” We tend to think about animals living in places where resources are plentiful.

So it makes sense that possums would thrive in areas with abundant food sources. In terms of the possum’s diet, this is true.

Possums can thrive in places with little vegetation available. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need vegetation for sustenance.

They usually stick around trees in the morning. Late afternoon, where they may find a wide variety of insects. Young opossums can be fed pet food like cat food.

Possums eat just about anything worth eating, such as fruits and nuts, insects, small mammals such as mice and rats, birds such as chickens and pigeons.

They will also eat garden plants which they prefer if they can reach them without being caught in a trap. Or stepped on by children though most people either do not realize this or don’t care. The reason is that it makes their garden look more attractive to them.

Most people don’t realize it. but actually, possums are quite beneficial animals given. Sometimes they are also acting as scavengers.

They eat out of garbage cans, they eat small rodents, and last but not least, sometimes they eat dead animals also.

Moreover, they help to keep Lyme disease at bay. A study reveals that Opossums kill 90% of household pests like ticks that attach to them.

Diet of Newborn Possums

Newborn opossums get their food from their mother’s milk. They get two types of milk: regurgitation and blood. The regurgitated milk is the nourishment for them. In this possum diet, the blood will help build antibodies.

After about three weeks, the baby possums will stop drinking both. Only eat the regurgitated type of milk without blood in it. They will be weaned and taken care of in their mother’s pouch at about 2-3 months old.

When baby possums are born, they weigh on average 30 grams (1 ounce). After its first few days, the weight will increase by about 20 to 30 grams (1/2 to 1 ounce).

The baby possums eat nothing but will drink regurgitated milk straight from the mother’s hind legs. As the days go by, it will continue to get more nutritionally enriched milk.

We can conclude from this article that what possums eat is an opossum diet. It is primarily determined by what is available in a specific geographic location at a particular time of year.

Possums like to eat insects, plants, fruits, vegetables, fish, and birds. Clearly, they aren’t picky eaters. It is not unusual for an opossum to also chew through trash cans.

They are also looking for food items such as dog food. Or fruit that might have been disposed of without being eaten first. 

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