Order Didelphimorphia

Opossum playing dead

Virigina opossum

Didelphis virginiana

Mother opossum and young

Opossums are the only marsupial in North America, and they come with a lot of misconceptions. They are opportunistic omnivores and will eat a wide variety of fruits, grains, insects, snails, earthworms, carrion, snakes, birds, mice, and other small animals. They are resistant to snake venom and have high immunity to the rabies virus. Opossums commonly play dead in order to repel predators.

Common Myths

Myth: Opossums eat garbage and are therefore dirty.

Truth: Opossums will certainly eat the food in your garbage if you leave it in an unsecured can, but they're not dirty animals. Opossums groom themselves as meticulously as a cat. They also have a tendency to get ticks, so what do they do when they come across a tick while grooming? Eat it, of course! The average opossum consumes approximately 4,000 ticks in a single week! Opossums are the unsung heroes in the battle against Lyme disease.

Myth: Opossums are blind.

Truth: They're actually not. They have strongly dilated pupils (which is why their eyes look so dark) which adapts them well to a nocturnal lifestyle. Opossums can see just fine- they can just see a lot better at night, when the sun isn't hurting their eyes.

Myth: Opossums are dumb.

Truth: When tested for the ability to remember where food is, opossums scored better than rats, rabbits, cats, and dogs. They've also solved mazes faster than mice and cats.