An opossum is seen close-up in a tree hollow.

Opossum in Tree Cavity

South Carolina, USA

Both possum and opossum correctly refer to the Virginia opossum frequently seen in North America. Opossum can be pronounced with its first syllable either voiced or silent. They are members of the marsupial order Didelphimorphia.

The young are born at a very early stage at only 12 to 14 days. Once born, the offspring must find their way into the marsupium to hold on to and nurse from a teat. Baby opossums, like their Australian cousins, are called joeys.

Opossums are semi-arboreal and opportunistic omnivores. The opossum lifespan is unusually short for a mammal of its size, usually only one to two years in the wild. Photo © copyright by Dr. Edward Mikol.

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