National Opossum Society
welcomes you to the world of the Virginia opossum!
| Information for Rehabilitators
The Importance of Proper Diet
Finding a Veterinarian to Help
| Quick Opossum Facts
Natural History of the Opossum
Discouraging Opossum Visitors
Opossums As Pets??
| Join the Society|
Searchable Index for your Membership Packet!
Positions of the National Opossum Society
LOOK! Opossum Artwork for Sale
It lived during the age of dinosaurs: fossil remains have been found from 70 million years ago.
It can eat almost anything.
It is very quiet, although it can make some sounds.
Learning and discrimination tests rank it above dogs, and more on the level of pigs.
It does not have a territory, but is always on the move, going to wherever the food is. Females stay in a smaller area while they care for their young.
It puts up a terrific bluff if cornered and can give the appearance of being really good at defending itself. NOTE: it is not good at defending itself!
If attacked and unable to fight or run from danger, it collapses and appears to be dead!
Females have litters up to twice a year (the father always skips town!). Babies, typically 5 to 8 in a litter are ready to leave mommy's pouch and walk around out on their own by 4 months of age. That's when they are 7 to 9 inches, nose to rump, and weigh about 10 to 16 ounces.
But 'possum life is rough! Very few survive to become adults. The few that make it are eager to have their own love affairs and repeat Nature's cycle.
Nature is very efficient. If an area will support them (has their favorite foods, water, and appropriate shelter) more opossums survive. If times are hard, fewer will make it.
If a lot of opossums are killed by predators (they have lots of predators- man is one of the biggest) there is more food for those that remain. Then these little furries will reproduce more successfully until they get back to their optimum number; or others will move in to fill the void (or niche) their absence creates. They can be replaced by opossums from outside the area, by rats, skunks cats, crows, raccoons, coyotes, etc.
In general they present a far lower health risk to humans than do dogs and cats! They seem to have a naturally high level of immunity to most diseases. Example? Opossums are more resistant to rabies than any other mammal; cattle, goats, dogs, cats, sheep, and the ice cream man are far more susceptible to rabies!
But they help to maintain a clean and healthy environment. They eat all types of insects, including cockroaches, crickets, beetles, etcetera. They catch and eat rats, roof rats, mice, and they consume dead animals of all types (carrion). They like over-ripe fruit, berries, and grapes. And they think snails and slugs are a delicacy! Nature's little Sanitation Engineers!!
Typically they go about their quiet task late at night, and you usually won't know they were around...unless your dog (being territorial) starts barking, or you happen to take a midnight stroll when one is munching insects or snails in your yard.
Just watch an enjoy one of Nature's beneficial wildlife species. If you must do something, try counting the thumbs on your feet...
If one has chosen your your garage, attic, or other structure, as its temporary quarters, you may not want it there! There are relatively simple and non-lethal means to get them to leave for more suitable spots in your area.
In the meantime, and BEFORE you have a visitor to those structures, pick up pet food at night, keep lids on garbage cans, and close potential entrance points. You can still enjoy opossums as they wander through your yard, eliminating its various pests as they go through their nightly excursions.
Benefits of Membership in the National Opossum Society
Membership is available for $25/year. Orphan care information is available in a separate handbook at an additional cost of $10.
We have a membership application form online!
Our principles and goals are:
The National Opossum Society is an all-volunteer not-for-profit, tax-exempt charity, founded December 5, 1986.
The National Opossum Society and the Opossum Society of the United States, while both founded by Dr. Henness, are separate groups. This Web Site is for the group most recently led by the late Dr. Henness, the National Opossum Society.
Thank you for visiting our Web Site. We hope you will visit again soon.
A Word on Opossums in Research Facilities
The National Opossum Society exists for the benefit and improvement in care of the Didelphis genus, particularly Didelphis virginiana and Didelphis marsupialis.
Within institutions such as universities where opossums are kept captive for research projects of questionable value, they are rarely given the most basic care they require to live healthy lives. Their habitat requirements are not met at all in "pure" research. Wildlife experiences extreme stress under these circumstances, and thus are not going to remain healthy for long.
The National Opossum Society supports clinical research that strives to improve the health of the Didelphis genus or the individual opossum. Other research that intends to extrapolate data to benefit another species is not endorsed or supported in any way.
NATIONAL OPOSSUM SOCIETY PHOTOGRAPHS, GRAPHICS, DRAWINGS, AND ARTICLES ARE COPYRIGHTED. READERS ARE WELCOME TO COPY OUR LITERATURE FOR THEIR INDIVIDUAL USE, BUT MAY NOT SELL IT. REFERENCE MUST BE ATTACHED TO ARTICLES AND THEIR CONTENT UNALTERED. PLEASE WRITE TO US FOR PERMISSION TO REPRINT ARTICLES IN OTHER PUBLICATIONS, INCLUDING ELECTRONIC ONES. WE RARELY REFUSE PERMISSION; BUT DUE TO POTENTIAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT ISSUES, WE MUST HAVE A SPECIFIC AND WRITTEN REQUEST. WE RESERVE EXCLUSIVE AND ABSOLUTE RIGHTS OVER ALL USE AND SALES OF OUR DRAWINGS, LITERATURE, PRODUCTS, ETC, SINCE 1986.
ATTENTION WEBMASTERS! YOU MAY LINK TO THIS PAGE. YOU MAY NOT COPY ANY PART OF THIS PAGE IN PRINTED OR WEB PAGE FORMAT WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM N.O.S. PLEASE DO NOT COPY OUR COUNSELOR'S PHONE NUMBERS ONTO YOUR WEB PAGE. IF YOU WANT US TO HELP ORPHANS, THEN PLEASE DIRECT YOUR VISITORS HERE, WHERE THE MOST CURRENT COUNSELOR INORMATION IS LISTED!
Photo Credits: Paula Arms, Steve Finney, Mindy Washington