Mass: 2.2 to 5.4 kg
Length: to 40 in. (1 m)
Biomes: temperate forest & rainforest - Opossums are found in a variety of environments, ranging from relatively arid to mesic environments. They prefer wet areas, however, especially streams and swamps. It is hard to determine the exact home range of an opossum because of their unusual movement patterns (McManus, 1974).
Status: no special status. - Adapted well to presence of humans. appear to be extending geographic range. Population density in the wild not very high (one animal per ten acres).
Range: The opossum is found only in North America. In the United States it is found on the West Coast and in areas east of the Rocky Mountains. Opossums are also found throughout all of Mexico and Central America (McManus, 1974).
Opossums have a heavy set body that resembles a large house cat. They have longs heads with a pointed snout. Their faces have long whiskers. All opossums have long, tapered tails with a scaly appearance. Females have a fur-lined pouch to carry their young (Baker, 1983). The color of the opossum varies by the region. Northern populations have thick underfur that is white in color and has black tips. The pale guard hairs give the opossum a gray appearance. In the southern populations, the underfur is much sparser. Both northern and southern species have white cheek hairs (McManus,1974).
Defensive tactic: "playing possum," fakes death to thwart attack, reaches a state of catatonia. When America was first colonized by Europeans, these possums did not occur north of Pennsylvania. As time passed, they moved north and westward on the Great Plains. In 1890, they were introduced to California. They spread on the west coast. Today in Michigan, they are currently spreading into the Upper Peninsula.
Distinctive hand-like hind tracks are about 2 in. (5 cm.) across. Fore tracks have widely spaced toe pads.
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