Opossums, as elusive creatures that do their best to avoid humans, are often misunderstood creatures. Though some may find their distinct appearance off-putting, these animals tend to be shy and are actually less likely to carry rabies due to their low internal body temperature. In the interest of fostering a better understanding of North America's only marsupial, we have provided the following guide to common opossum behavior.

Opossum Movement and Activity

  • Opossums are usually nomadic. Instead of creating long term dens, they move from site to site depending on availability of food and shelter.
  • In addition to being nomadic, opossums also tend to live solitary lives. While males can be territorial and intolerant of other males in their home range, females do not have such issues and their
  • Opossums are also crepuscular and nocturnal. This means they are most active at night and slightly before and after dawn and dusk, repsectively.
  • For shelter, opossums will hole up in abandoned animal dens, tree hollows, trash heaps,  or in your crawl space if they can get to it.

Defense Mechanisms

  • When cornered or threatened by predators, opossums may have an involuntary reponse that causes them to enter a shock-like state which renders them unrepsonsive. This reponse is often referred to as "playing dead" or "playing possum."
  • Opossums don't just go limp when confronted by predators, they have sharp teeth that they will bare or use to bite potential threats. In fact, they have more teeth than any other mammal in the United States with a whopping 50 sharp chompers.


  • Opossums are marsupials, and as such give birth to underdeveloped joeys, which spend about two to three months in their mother's pouch.
  • Joeys are often seen riding around on their mother's back until they are old enough to venture off on their own around a ripe 100 days of a age.


Opossums are opportunistic scavengers, which is why you may encounter them while they're rooting around your garden for tasty insects or fruits. Below is a list of common elements of an opossum's diet.

  • ticks, grasshoppers, beetles, and other bugs
  • carrion
  • eggs
  • fish
  • small amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals
  • earthworms
  • berries
  • apples
  • acorns
  • seeds
  • pet food
  • human food trash