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Nature Journal -"Polly" the Opossum

Updated: May 7, 2021

We have at least one Opossum living around our neighborhood. We named the opossum "Polly". Last year, we often saw Polly during summer nights foraging in our backyard. On a January afternoon, we finally saw Polly again climbing on the neighbor's fence and quickly disappeared at the corner of our pond area where lies a big brush pile.

opossum watercolor art
opossum watercolor by Gloria M. 1-2-2021

Did you know:

  • Opossums (the Virginial Opossum) are the only marsupial in the North Americas, which means they are related to the other pouched mammals such as Kangaroos and Koalas. Opossums babies are born underdeveloped (called joeys) and will stay in their mother's pouch until they are developed.

  • Opossums conduct natural pest control for your gardens. They consume all types of bugs and insects including cockroaches, crickets, snails, slugs, and beetles. They eat mice, rats, and snakes including venomous ones such as copperhead and timber rattlesnakes. They also help keep your garden clean by eating rotten fruits that have fallen on the ground and bird carcasses.

  • Opossums help control the spread of Lyme disease by their cat-like grooming than any other animal. But do keep a safe distance from opossums as they are like the other wild animals and carry several ectoparasites such as fleas, lice, mites, and ticks.

  • Opossums almost never get rabies. They have a lower body temperature (94-97º F) which makes it difficult for viruses to survive.

  • Opossums have no control over their famous "Play possum" skill. They tend to play dead in front of danger while secretes from their anus a putrid odor to pretend to be a corpse. This defensive system is an involuntary reaction triggered by sress.

  • Opossums are skilled climbers and swimmers, even though they prefer to travel on land. They may be the reason if your pond fish is missing.

Wildlife garden tips:

1. Opossums enjoy deciduous woodlands with nearby water resources. Plant bushes and trees to create a woodland garden.

2. Keep hollow logs, brush pile or woodpiles will provide shelters for opossums to live

3. Plant fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Opossums will eat overripe fruits on the ground and enjoy the insects attracted by vegetables and flowers.

A short video of Polly:

Helpful Links:

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