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VIRGINIA OPOSSUM

Scientific Name: Didelphis virginiana
Order
Didelphimorphia

Family
Didelphidae

Habitat & Range
Native to the United States, the Virginia opossum has extended its range to Central America. It can be found in nearly every state east of the Rocky Mountains and every Central American country.

FIND ME AT EPZ
Name: CHARLOTTE (female); LEXI (female)
Location: Education Department (behind the scenes)
Born: 2013
Arrived at EPZ: 08/27/2013
 
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Identification
Virginia opossums are one of the world’s most variably sized mammals. Those found in the north are much larger than those in the tropics. Body length ranges from 13 to 37 inches, excluding the tail, which can add up to 19 inches. Weight can range from 11 ounces to 14 pounds, with females weighing much less than males. Their coat is gray-brown on the body and white on the face. The tail and ears are hairless and the pink nose is long and flat.

Diet
Opossums feed on a wide range of plants and animals including fruits, leaves, insects and small animals. With a high resistance to snake venom, they are often found feeding on various species of snakes. Those in captivity are prone to cannibalism, which is uncommon for those in the wild.

Reproduction & Lifespan
Because they have few defenses against predators, Virginia opossums only live about two years. Even those in captivity have a lifespan of only four years.

Fantastic Fact
Paralyzing Fear
Opossums are known for their defense tactic of faking death.  When threatened, they lay on their side with the intent to deceive predators into thinking that they are injured or dead. This reaction is sometimes involuntary, and triggered by extreme fear. It can also be used to convince large animals that they are not a threat to their young.

 
 
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