you hike through Ryerson Woods, most Opossums
are still asleep.
They prefer to be alone and wait until dark to leave their
nests in the hollows of trees and logs, and roam the woods
looking for food.
lot of people are afraid of opossums, but the opossums are
even more afraid! If they feel like they are in
danger, they will try to look ferocious, but won't attack;
if they feel very threatened, they will 'play possum', going
into a trance to appear dead. But don't try to pick one up...they
have more teeth than any other American land mammal...50 sharp
Opossums look like rodents with their pointed white faces,
gray bodies and hairless tails, but aren't related to rodents
at all. They are marsupials, and in fact, are the
only marsupials native to North America. Marsupials are mammals
that carry and nurse their young in a pouch, like the kangaroos
and koalas in Australia. Females may have two litters a year
with up to 17 newborns each. The "pinkies" are so
tiny, 20 of them can fit in a teaspoon. Not all will survive,
but those that do, will open their eyes and climb out of their
mother's pouch in 50 to 65 days. For the next month or more,
they will travel on their mother's back, learning survival
skills as she forages for food. But their lives are short;
they will only live another year or so in the wild. Opossums
live up to 10 years in captivity, but in the wild, they have
many predators...man, cars, dogs, cats, owls, coyotes and
other larger wildlife.
Opossums are omnivores,
eating a wide variety of food including insects, snails and
slugs, mice and rats, frogs, bird eggs, acorns, blackberries,
rotted fruit, grass. They even scavange the carrion from deer,
rabbits and other dead animals. They have adapted well to
residential environments, searching for food in the neighborhood
garbage and pet bowls.
fun facts about opossums:
there are 65 species of opossums, only one is found in North
have thumbs on all four paws!
have prehensile tails, which means they can wrap their tail
around a tree limb and use it for climbing or for carrying
nest material. But they can't hang from their tails...that
is a common misconception.
seem to have a high immunity to disease and are more resistant
to rabies than any other mammal.
learning tests, they test above dogs.
Preserve District of DuPage county)