Creature of the Week: Opossum

Here in mid-Michigan, I have come across a variety of little creatures. I thought I would share some of them with everyone. I tend to love all aspects of nature.

When most people view an opossum in the wild, they see an ugly rat-like creature. When I view an opossum in the wild, I see a fascinating creature with ancestral ties going back to the times of the dinosaur.

Truthfully, the opossum is not even related to the rat family. The little grey creatures receive a bad reputation just based on their appearance. The opossum is actually a marsupial. (For those who do not remember or need a refresher, a marsupial is simply a pouched mammal).

The slow-moving creature is the only marsupial in North America which I found to be an interesting fact. Just like, I found the fact that there are around 65 species of opossums world-wide. But, only one type is located in Michigan and all of North America: the Virginia Opossum (Didelphis Virginiana).

Opossum
This was taking after a hard Michigan winter. I do not know for certain, but it looks like her little ears were victim to frostbite.

Other facts:

  • A nocturnal animal, I usually view them late at night. I have one that comes up on my porch; I enjoy watching her with the pale light from the porch.
  • Opossums hiss and growl when they feel threatened but they are actually a gentle creature avoiding conflict. In fact, “playing opossum” or “playing dead” is one of their best defenses against conflict. The little creatures will act dead in order to ward off predators.
  • Eat mostly insects, berries and fruits (I notice the one that visits my feeder loves the day old popcorn that I put out).
  • An opossum can be up to 21 inches long with an additional 10 to 20 inches with the tail.

One of the fascinating facts, I recently learned about opossums is they like to eat ticks. I am always worried about ticks getting on my pets and me. So, the little gray opossum with the cute pink nose may eat as many ticks as she wants when she visits my yard.

The one thing I have not witnessed in the wild is a mother opossum with her babies. I really would like to photograph them.

Until next time….peace

 

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