The breeding season for the Virginia opossum can begin as early as December and continue through October with most infants born between the months of February and June. A female opossum may have 1-3 litters per year. During the mating season, the male attracts the female by making clicking sounds with his mouth.
Opossums reproduce twice a year. Once mating is done, the male, called a jack, leaves and doesn’t return. After a gestation of just 12 to 13 days, female opossums, called jills, give birth to up to 20 live young at a time. The babies, called joeys, are about the size of jelly beans when they are born.
A female opossum gives birth to helpless young as tiny as honeybees. Babies immediately crawl into the mother’s pouch, where they continue to develop. As they get larger, they will go in and out of the pouch and sometimes ride on the mother’s back as she hunts for food.
>> Virginia opossums are nocturnal (most active at night). They sleep during the day in a den in a hollow tree or in an abandoned rodent burrow.
If one of the young becomes separated from its mother it will make sneezing sounds to call her. She, in turn, will make clicking sounds. The young are weaned at approximately 3 months of age and are on their own at 4 1/2 – 5 months when they are approximately 7-9 inches long from nose to rump, excluding the tail.
In addition to size differences, you can tell a male apart from a female by the color of the male’s chest hair. Males have a skin gland used for chemical communication that stains the chest fur yellow. Females have a fur-lined pouch for raising and carrying infants.
Seek immediate assistance. Contact your local Opossum Society of the United States member, state department of wildlife, veterinarian, wildlife rehabilitator or animal control. Make sure animal control will not euthanize all opossums.
While most of their foraging happens at night, opossums can occasionally be seen in the daylight. If food is scarce, they will spend as much time as necessary to locate it, scavenging at all hours. This is especially true during harsh winters.
Because their fur doesn’t provide much insulation from the cold, opossums typically spend the winter in dens that are dry, sheltered and safe. Opossums are vulnerable to frostbite on their hairless tails, ears and toes, so they often “hole up” during extremely cold spells. Their dens may be in: Hollow logs or trees.
A possum must be released at dusk no more than 150 metres away from the point of capture and near something it can immediately climb, such as a tree or tall fence, otherwise it will not survive.
Possums DO NOT dig dens or burrows underground. They do live in them though. They wait for another animal to abandon their home before moving right on in. They actually prefer to live in the trees because it is safer up there.
It’s best to bring cat or dog food into the house before dark, so the opossums, skunks, raccoons and foxes of the world won’t find it. Opossums, being nocturnal, sleep the day away just about anyplace — except in a “Dogloo” with an African spurred tortoise. Opossums prefer to sleep alone.
Possums usually love to live alone. When two possums are seen together they are most likely a ‘jill’ and a ‘joey’, meaning ‘mother’ and ‘baby’ respectively. Joeys often take joy rides on their mother’s back and they hunt for food together. A possum can carry around six or seven possums at once on their back.
Possums are tree dwelling animals that are active at night. … Due to the lack of adequate tree hollows, possums move into our roofs through holes and establish homes for themselves inside where it is safe and dark.
The best way to ensure your Opossum is getting the proper nutrients is to feed them a quality pellet diet like Insectivore-Fare, supplemented with lots of fresh vegetables and occasionally meat, eggs, insects, or plain low-fat yogurt as an added protein source.
What Do Opossum Droppings Look Like? … Opossum feces are roughly one to two inches in length, smooth on the sides, and may have white or yellowish mold growing on the outer casings. Otherwise, opossum droppings are brown in color.
If there is an opossum in the backyard, don’t worry. They aren’t a threat, and more than likely they will be moving on in a short while. … But far from being a nuisance, opossums can be beneficial for your garden, eating snails, slugs, insects and sometimes even small rodents.
People sometimes find orphaned possums and consider raising these cute animals as pets. It’s illegal to keep them without a wildlife rehabilitation permit, though, and once they’re old enough to survive on their own, healthy possums can, and should, be released.
Like other mammals, baby possums will probably not last longer than 2-3 days without food.
They can climb vertical walls and have been known to jump from a tree to roof up to 4 metres away!
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