Possums sleep during the day, seeking areas with protective covering, such as brush piles, hollow trees and crawl spaces underneath buildings and houses. These nocturnal animals come out at night, scavenging for food where there is garbage. During cold weather, however, possums may stay in their protected daytime areas longer.
Officially known as opossums, these animals don’t have a territory or area of permanence. Instead, possums wander, going where they can find food. In addition to foraging in garbage cans and dumpsters, possums eat fruit, nuts and grass. They hunt birds, snakes, mice and chickens and also eat road kill.
Rat-like in appearance, the typical possum has long, coarse, gray-white fur, a scaly prehensile tale, a sharp and slender muzzle, a pink nose and black eyes. There are more than 60 opossum species. The common Virginia opossum is the only marsupial, or pouch mammal, in the United States and Canada. Female opossums can birth as many as 20 babies at a time, which are about the size of honeybees. The babies crawl toward the mother’s pouch, where they live for 70 to 125 days. After leaving the pouch, babies stay with the mother another three to four weeks. Less than half of a litter typically survives to adulthood.