2013 Envirothon
What is the only marsupial found in North America, and one of the world’s oldest mammals?
opossum
Are opossum aggressive?
no
What is a unique survival technique of the opossum?
Playing Possum: pretending to be dead when a predator or child rushes at them or prevents escape
What can possums do in case he can’t escape?
~click teeth (like Wheezie)
~hiss
~growl
~release musky
How long does the death act of a possum last? Describe
few minutes to several hours; lie still, eyes open and staring, mouth open, tongue limp
What is a common winter problem for opossum?
frostbite
Where do most marsupials live?
warm climates like Australia and S America
Do opossums hibernate?
no, they grow a thin layer of fat and den up during snowy periods
What is the population of opossums like?
continuing to grow in PA
What is the possum classified as in PA?
fur bearer
Where can opossum be found?
IDEAL: bottomland woods that border streams. Also farms, woods, fields; suburbs
Why do opossum wander?
to find food
What wildlife management techniques help opossums as well as large game animals like bear and deer?
Thinning forests; planting edge zones with low-growing food-producing plants (berries); creating thick cover for their escape or rest; preserving hollow dead trees for shelter cavities
Why do people think opossums are rats?
they are not rats; they have hairless scaly tail like rats, but opossums use their tails to climb trees
What is a possum’s tail called?
prehensile, meaning “able to grasp”
opossums have partially prehensile tails they can use to dangle from a tree or anchor their body to a branch
When are possum litters born?
late winter and early to mid summer
How long is gestation for possum?
12-13 days
What are young possums like?
one half inch in length
.0005 ounces
hairless, pink, blind
What do baby possums do after they are born?
use front claws to climb up the mothers’ fur to a pouch on her belly, attach to one of the 13 mammary glands and begin to nurse.
How long do the babies nurse?
up to two months
What happens if there are more than 13 young opossums born?
they die
How do the young opossums keep from falling out of the pouch?
the mom closes the pouch
How many young do opossum have?
5 to 13; average of 8
What are the baby possums like at 8 to 9 weeks?
they let go of the mammary gland for the first time; eyes open; leave the pouch for short periods of time; riding mom’s back and gripping fur with claws
What are young possums like at 3 to 4 months?
look for own food; begin to care for themselves; stop nursing
What order are opossums?
Order Marsupialia
What are other names for the opossum?
possum; grinner; monkey rat
How big are opossums?
size of large house cat, about 24-40 inches long; males larger; tail 10-12 inches
Why is Wheezie so annoying?
WAH!! WAH!!!
Explain: Opossums are both terrestrial and arboreal?
spend time on land and in trees
Teeth of opossum?
more than any other mammal in PA: 50
Explain: opossum is an omnivore?
eats both plants and animals; love to scavenge
opossum feet?
five toes; first one is claw-less and acts like a thumb; other toes have claws
How do whiskers help the opossum?
help them touch surroundings, esp at night
opossum sight and hearing?
weak
Are possums nocturnal?
yes
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