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Opossums

Facts, Identification and Control

Latin Name

Didelphis virginiana

Appearance

Adult opossums are about the size of a large cat. They have long, light-gray hair with a scaly tail almost half the length of the full body.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Typically, the opossum prefers to establish a home within existing structures, like hollow logs, garages, under buildings, inside burrows and even squirrels’ nests in trees. It prefers establishing residence close to a food source for an easy commute. The opossum is an omnivore, so it’s not picky. Just about anything the marsupial can find to consume will make for a meal—fruits, grass, insects, mammals, birds, fish and carrion.

Reproduction

Opossums are not community creatures. Typically, they reproduce one time per year but can have two litters, resulting in about seven offspring each. The count can go as high as 13 in a litter, though. Gestation lasts only 13 days, and newborns are only the size of small bumble bees and partially developed. The young will nurse in the mother’s pouch for the next three months as they further develop and mature.

Signs of an Opossum Infestation

Homeowners most often notice opossums when they encounter them, often around a garbage cans or in attics. They are known to damage lawns too, when digging for grubs.

More Information

The opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is the only marsupial in North America and is a relative of the kangaroo. The most notable similarity of these family members is the female’s abdominal pouch, designed for carrying and nurturing young. Unlike its relative, though, the opossum is a sluggish animal with the ability to produce a repulsive smell.

Before taking control measures, check local regulations, as opossums might be protected. If you aren’t sure of the infesting pest or that you can humanely capture it, we always recommend contacting a pest control professional for an evaluation.