Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Virginia opossum

The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial (pouched mammal) found in the United States.
The opossum is about the size of a large house cat. It has a triangular head and a long pointed nose. It has grayish fur everywhere but on its ears, feet and tail. Its tail is prehensile. A prehensile tail is adapted for grasping and wrapping around things like tree limbs. The opossum can hang from its tail for a short time. Some people think opossums hang from their tails and sleep. They don't. Their tails aren't strong enough to hold them for that long.
The opossum doesn't hibernate in the winter. It will often hole up during very cold weather because it runs the risk of getting frostbite on its hairless ears, tail and toes.
The Virginia opossum lives in a wide-variety of habitats including deciduous forests, open woods and farmland. It tends to prefer wet areas like marshes, swamps and streams.
The Virginia opossum is nocturnal and uses its keen sense of smell to locate food. It is omnivorous and eats just about anything,Sometimes, it eats garbage and carrion. Carrion is dead animals. Because so much carrion is roadkill, opossums are often killed by cars while looking for food on roadways.
The name 'opossum' was first used in western culture by Captain John Smith in 1608. It comes from the Algonquin name 'apasum', which means 'white animal.'

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