opossum is a marsupial mammal, characterized by completing much of its development clinging to the mammary glands available inside a bag.

Features

The smallest possum belongs to the species southwestern pygmy (Cercartetus concinnus) with a height of only 10 cm. La Australian zarigüeya (Trichosurus vulpecula)It can grow to be over a meter high. Typically, most species are the same size as a household expenditure. Life is unusually short compared to other mammals of their size, generally living one or two years in the wild. In captivity his life increases to four years.

Most species have long snouts and the tails are elongated and prehensile, bare at the bottom to give it a better grip when in the trees. To climb trees easily they have sharp claws. The jaw is unusual among mammals. The incisors are very small, the canines are large, and the molars are tricuspid. The feet are flat and the hind legs do not have claws. They are covered with hairs, both the legs and the tail are covered with scales. Males have a bifurcated penis with twin glands and the female has a pouch.

Males tend to be slightly larger, heavier, and with larger canines than females. They have a slight sexual dimorphism since males have a bifurcated penis and the female a bifurcated vagina.

Behavior

The opossum is a solitary and nomadic animal, although it will only move if the area begins to lack water and food. It is also a nocturnal animal. Its activity begins at sunset where it will take advantage of the darkness of the night to hunt. In the morning his activity descends and he spends the day resting in the hollows of the trees hidden from predators.

When they feel threatened, they play dead by imitating the appearance and smell. This response is not conscious and is similar to fainting in humans. When they are young, sometimes the brain does not respond correctly and they do not pass out in case of danger. When they are playing, the lips are retracted, the teeth are bared, the saliva foams around the mouth, the eyes are closed or half closed, and the anal glands secrete a foul-smelling liquid.

Possums of the American continent prefer burrows or live under houses. They do not dig their own burrows and use the burrows dug by other animals.

Close-up of a possum

Close-up of a possum

Habitat

The opossum inhabits bushes and rainforests where they find hollow trees and logs to live on. They are arboreal animals, that is, they spend most of their lives in trees.

Distribution

The possum is found in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Sulawesi (India). Today they are also found in New Zealand and parts of China where they were introduced by humans.

Food

The opossum is an omnivorous animal, which feeds on a wide variety of invertebrate plants and animals. Among their diet are: insects, leaves, flowers, nectar and fruits. They also eat small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Possum eating

Possum eating

Predators

The predators of the opossum are numerous and vary according to the species and the region where they live. But in general the predators are: foxes, cats and raptors. Other predators can be: Tasmanian devils, dogs, the dingoes and snakes.

Reproduction

The possum is a very solitary animal and they only come together to mate. It does not have a strict time to reproduce and can do so throughout the year. The female, as a marsipial, has a reproductive system consisting of a forked vagina, a divided uterus, and a pouch (pouch).

The female possum is a couple of weeks gestation and will have between 2 - 4 young. Being a marsupial, the female has a pouch in her stomach that the newborn pups go into and stay there until they have developed enough to survive on their own. Generally, only one of the hatchlings will survive and leave the pouch at 6 - 7 months.

State of conservation

The possum is considered a pest in certain regions, as it sometimes hunts in urban garbage dumps. But in general, they are not in danger of extinction, although the rarer species are threatened or in danger of extinction, such as the speckled couscous (Phalanger maculatus).

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