While working in a large Animal Shelter, I had contact with thousands of opossums! Thank goodness, a few years ago the County stopped accepting trapped wildlife so, people had to learn how to live peacefully with Opossums.
Lots of people feel that Opossums are aggressive due to their big mouths and 50 sharp teeth! In fact, Opossums are solitary, gentle and placid animals. They avoid confrontation! Adults are normally very slow moving and will only open their mouth to show their teeth and hiss when frightened. They don’t initiate aggression. They’ll retreat whenever possible.
Opossums are actually quite beneficial to our areas. They are omnivores, so they eat both meat and plant. They are essentially scavengers, cleaning up the rotten fruit and debris in our lawns, in addition to carrion (dead road kill, etc.) They will eat insects, snails, slugs, worms, berries, nuts, grass, leaves and pet food. They are quite flexible and make due with whatever food and water is available. Just about every yard has Opossums walking around at night. Trust me, they are not a threat to you or your pets.
Their body is @ 13″ to 20″ long. The tail could be 9″ to 21″ long. They use their thick, prehensile tail to climb and sometimes to carry leaves, etc.. Opossums can live in trees but, the adults can’t hang by their tails while they sleep. Opossums will make a den in any dark, quiet location. They don’t put much effort into creating a home.
Opossums are North America’s only marsupial mammal (female that has a pouch for carrying her young). They’re also nocturnal (sleep during the day and active at night).
The Opossum’s breeding season is from February to June. They become adults and begin mating at @ 1 year old. They could have 1 – 2 litters per season, depending on the climate. The gestation (period from conception to birth) is only 12 – 14 days. The mother has 13 teats and that’s the maximum number of infants she can nurse. Usually, 13 babies won’t make it in the pouch and of those that do, only about 3 to 6 will make it to weaning age. The babies are born undeveloped embryos. They are just about 1/4″ long and about the size of a Honey Bee. After they are born, they scoot to the mothers pouch where they latch onto a teat. Once the babies latch on, the teat swells and elongates and they remain there constantly.
The infants are weaned at 2 to 3 months old and are considered juveniles. At this time they are 6″ to 7″ long. They become independent of their mother when they are 6 – 12 months old and about 7″ to 10″ long. They become breeding adults whenever they are @ 1 year old. The adult males are larger than the females.
The actual truth about “Playing Possum” is probably much different than you thought. When Opossums are extremely frightened, they can go into an involuntary “shock – like” or “fainting state.” This unconscious state can last from 40 minutes to 4 hours. They first awaken by wiggling their ears.
When they are unconscious, they usually have an open mouth and seem to be dead.
Opossums only live 2 – 4 years. They’ve a good deal of predators! Between humans, cars, cats, dogs, owls and larger wildlife, Opossums do not survive very long.
They really aren’t as bad as they seem however, you can call Port St Lucie Fl Bat Removal for Humane trapping and relocation.