How? The opossum has been around for at least 70 million years and is one of Earth's oldest surviving mammals! This New World species is correctly called an “opossum” as opposed to the Old World “possum”. It has 50 teeth and a prehensile tail which serves to balance the animal while moving into the trees. Virginia opossum. 1985). They have scaly feet, and a scaly prehensile tail. They are pretty immune to snake venom. Opossums have existed since the Pliocene Epoch, two to five million years ago. The Virginia opossum is a bit of anomaly. Virginia opossum tracks generally show five finger-like toes in both the fore and hind prints. In addition, biofluorescence of the pelage of the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) was observed in museum specimens and living animals (Meisner 1983; Pine et al. A marsupial is an animal with a pouch. The Virginia Opossum plays dead to detract the attention of a predator. Scientists aren’t sure, but think it’s because they’re masters of adaptation. The Virginia opossum occupies much of the North America and Central America including southern Ontario, Costa Rica, and Rockies. The opossum has some unique adaptations that help it survive. They’ve endured the passage of time astonishingly well, and largely unchanged. There are about 100 species of opossum in South America. Opossums are related to kangaroos and other marsupials found in Australia. Scientists studying ticks and opossums found that opossums groomed off and ate over 90% of the ticks on their bodies. Opossums are excellent tree climbers and spend much of their time aloft. 2019). Opossums have a tendency to switch nests often because of predation. Virginia Opossum Activity Sheet Scientific Name: Didelphis virginiana Video: Amazing Adaptations featuring the Virginia Opossum (YouTube) Description: Join CNC for an outdoor adventure to see an opossum habitat at and learn all about North America's only native marsupial. The opossum (left) can use its tail to wrap around larger structures to aid in climbing. Their fore and hind feet have five toes, all with sharp claws except for the clawless, thumblike, opposable innermost toe on the hind feet. If you’ve ever watched an opossum at play, it might have struck you … Tree Climbing. 10. This coma-like state can last up to four hours. Change their habitat, they adjust to a new one. The Virginia opossum is about the size of a large house cat. It can use its tail to hang from tree branches, and it has paws with opposable "thumbs." (Length: 12 minutes) "Plant Adaptations": Explore the amazing world of plant adaptations with this video along the Roaring Brook Nature Center trails. The region of the tail nearest the body is usually pigmented and covered by fur. Survival Adaptations. Good Natured: Adaptations Make Virginia Opossum Freaky Cool. When threatened, opossums will exhibit behaviors like running, growling, belching, urinating and even defecating. The Virginia opossum is the most commonly known opossum. Virginia opossums are more adapted to tropical environments, so it is not surprising that they are ill-equipped for extreme cold. Opossums are marsupials, mammals that undergo the early part of their development in their moth… The Virginia opossum is North America's only marsupial. Description of the Opossum. It has grayish fur everywhere but on its ears, feet, and tail. Some predators will think the … During the very cold seasons, Virginia opossums modify their behavior to stay warm and may use the shelter offered by human structures, although opossums found in northern regions frequently have frost bite. Virginia opossums use both vocal and scent signals to communicate with each other. North America’s only marsupial, the Virginia opossum is a scavenger — and that makes it right at home in dense urban environments, … Q. Virginia opossums are omnivores. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial native to North America. Males are usually larger and heavier than females. The Virginia opossum is a small mammal about the size of a house cat with a long, pointed nose, black hairless ears, dark eyes and a nearly hairless tail adapted to grasping objects (called “prehensile”). They are thought to eat insects, snakes, small animals, fruits, mice, earthworms, snails, grains, and carrion. This opossum is climbing down a tall pole using it tail much as a telephone lineman uses a safety belt when climbing. Host Ed Clark highlights a wide variety of special opossum adaptations and explains how simple changes in human behavior can help these animals. It has a prehensile tail. When the Virginia opossum feels threatened it will exhibit behaviors like running or growling. Possums can maintain this behavior for up to four hours. A prehensile tail is adapted for grasping and w… Didelphis virginiana. Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species. The opossum is adept at climbing, running and swimming at a relatively slow and deliberate pace. Behavioral Adaptation - an instinct that helps the organism to survive in its habitat. The Frilled Lizard puffs out skin flaps to look larger and more fierce. Read on to learn about the opossum. kanecountyconnects / February 16, 2018 / Leave a comment / Animal Care and Control, Environment, Government, Kane County Forest Preserve District, Nature, Parks and Recreation. The opossum’s population is on an increasing trend particularly in the northwestern range. Virginia Opossums have 50 teeth – more than any other North American mammal. Opossums were named by Captain John Smith in 1612 after an Algonquian word that means “white animal”. Scientists have found a peptide in the blood of The opossum uses many behavioral adaptations to survive. But in these northern reaches of the Americas, only a single marsupial can be found. With climate change causing warmer-than-average winters, though, new regions are becoming increasingly hospitable to the opossum. It has a triangular head and a long, pointed nose. Learn everything you need to know about opossum facts, behavior and habitat. They will nest in a safe place and try to build their nest in a warm area. Opossums are cat-sized mammals with a pointed snout, grayish fur, small ears, and a long, scaly tail. Prehensile Tail. (Snow cover across Canada has been declining since the 1970s, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.). Why do animals have adaptations? Its closest relatives are other New World opossums, which are all marsupials, which are quite numerous in the tropical reaches of this continent. Individual adult tracks generally measure 1.9 in long by 2.0 in wide (4.8 × 5.1 cm) for the fore prints and 2.5 in long by 2.3 in wide (6.4 × 5.7 cm) for the hind prints. Browse: Home / 2018 / February / Good Natured: Adaptations Make Virginia Opossum Freaky Cool. Denied their usual food sources, they change their diet. The lifespan is two years, and so they have to protect themselves from predators that are also hungry in … Opossums Are Incredibly Agile. The hind tracks are unusual and distinctive due to the opossum's opposable thumb, which generally prints at an angle of 90° or greater to the other fingers (sometimes near 180°). Meet one of the Center's education opossums, and hear outreach coordinator Alex Wehrung talk about how education ambassadors help the Center to elevate the effectiveness of our programs. These marsupials have an elongated snout, and a large sagittal crest – a bone making their forehead look taller. They originally were found only in southeastern U.S., but in recent years their range has expanded west and north all the way into northern Minnesota. Females communicate with their young by producing various sounds from lip smacking to bird-like noises, while a series of ‘clicks’ is used by mothers as well as individuals communicating with a mate. The Virginia Opossum has a tail that is referred to as prehensile, meaning that it can be used as a limb of sorts. Virginia opossums have a long head and pointed snout, rounded naked ears, and a scaly, nearly hairless, prehensile tail that is about half of their total length. Sometimes it will roll over, become stiff, drool, and change its breathing to a slow and shallow pace. Most opossums are around the size of a housecat. Then there are close up "meet and greets" with a Virginia opossum, blue-tongued skink and Brazilian rainbow boa to discuss the adaptations they possess. The predator avoidance adaptations of opossums don't stop there. 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