Virginia Opossum

Didelphis virginiana
Did you know?: 

Opossums have the most teeth of any land mammal!

At the EcoTarium

Our opossum, Igor, lives in the Freshwater Exhibit on the museum's Lower Level. For enrichment, our Wildlife Keepers place boxes and blankets in his habitat, so that he has many places to hide in.

About Virginia Opossums

The Virginia Opossum is the only marsupial native to North America. They live in wooded areas, but are attracted to human habitation because of garbage. Opossums are omnivores, and will eat whatever edible things they can find. They are good climbers, using their thick tails as a fifth hand.  They also use their opposable big toe of their back feet much like we use our thumbs.  Opossums live alone in found burrows or hollows and do not go dormant in the winter. They have a relatively short lifespan, living only 2 to 3 years.

When threatened, Virginia opossums hiss, scream, and secrete smelly fluids, but are most known for ‘playing possum.’ Opossums pretend to be dead and disgusting, laying on their side and secreting a foul odor; the reaction may be involuntarily triggered by fear, since the individual enters a near coma that lasts up to four hours