Habitat: The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) ranges across North America. They are highly adaptable creatures, meaning that they have the skills to learn to live in varied places. These animals can be found in cities, forests, and the suburbs, among others. They usually are found in burrows or under some sort of structure. They have been known to make dens in tree hollows as well.
Diet: The Virginia Opossum is an omnivore, which means that they eat meats as well as fruits and veggies. The meat they consume would be worms, other arthropods, fish, and carrion. These slow-moving creatures are not very picky with which foods they eat, so they will eat just about anything that is available.
Interesting Facts: The Virginia Opossum is the only marsupial in North America. Marsupials are animals of which the female has a pouch on the tummy in which the young develop after birth. Opossums are also nocturnal, so they are not seen often. Opossums have a special ability in which they “play dead.” Scientists still are not sure how the opossum does this, but they seem to believe that the opossum may in fact voluntarily “faint” and remains immobile until danger passes. Brain scans of opossums in this state have shown that brain activity does not decrease when the animal goes under. Opossums do not hang by their tail from tree branches; their bodies are too heavy. Young opossums may dangle for a few moments, but will either drop or climb back up onto the branch. Opossums do not carry many of the diseases found in wild mammals, such as rabies, due to a low body temperature.
At the Museum: Edgar Allan Opossum (pictured above) is our Virgina Opossum at Akron Fossils. He is very sweet, loves to be held, and really likes to explore. His favorite foods are yogurt and worms. His typical diet consists of veggies, cat food, and the occasional treat. Edgar naps throughout the day but is always wide awake at mealtime. He likes to have his belly scratched and he hates baths. Edgar is still a young opossum and is on the small side. He is a rescue animal as he is not able to live in the wild due to a developmental issue with his bones. Come visit Akron Fossils & Science Center to see Edgar up close!
Written by Megan Beaver