Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)

Virginia Opossum
(Didelphis virginiana)

The marsupial commonly known as the North American opossum is the only species of its family to be found in North America north of Mexico. It is widespread throughout Central America and North America east of the Rocky Mountains from Costa Rica to southern Ontario, where it has been found farther north than Toronto. In recent years, its range has expanded west and north as far as northern Minnesota as well.

Virginia opossums can vary considerably in size, with larger specimens found to the north of the opossum's range and smaller specimens in the tropics. They measure 35 to 94 centimetres long from their snout to the base of the tail, with the tail adding another 21.6 to 47 centimetres. Weight for males ranges from 0.8–6.4 kilogrammes and for females from 0.3–3.7 kilogrammes. They are one of the most variably sized mammals, since a large male from northern North America weighs about 20 times as much as a small female from the tropics.

Their coats are a dull grayish brown with white faces. Opossums have long, hairless, prehensile tails, which can be used to grab branches and carry small objects. They also have hairless ears and a long, flat nose. Opossums have 50 teeth, more than any other North American land mammal, and opposable, clawless thumbs on their rear limbs. They have 13 nipples, arranged in a circle of 12 with one in the middle.

The breeding season for the solitary and nocturnal animal can begin as early as December and continue through October with most young born between February and June. A female opossum may have one to three litters per year and it is common for 20 or 30 young to be born (and even as many as 50). An average litter is eight or nine joeys, which will reside in their mother's pouch for about two-and-a-half months, before eventually climbing on her back. They leave their mother after about 4-5 months. 

Source: - 24.10.2017

Virginia Opossum

These are the only marsupials being native to North America. On the contrary, in South and Central America approximately 100 species of the same familiy can be encountered.

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