Exotic Pet Wonderland

Virginia Opossums

Content Image
A photo of a Virginia opossum on the forest floor
a photo of an opossum standing on a blue bed spread at Exotic Pet Wonderland, a sanctuary for Virginia opossums
Virginia Opossum Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Didelphimorphia
Family: Didelphidae
Genus: Didelphis
Species: Virginiana
Scientific Name

Didelphis Virginiana

Conservation status

Least Concern


2 years in the wild

`4 years in captivity

Body size

4-12 lbs

Native habitat

Virginia Opossums are traditionally found across the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, all throughout Mexico, and up to Ontario in Canada. The Virginia Opossum has since been introduced to California, and British Columbia in Canada. 


Virginia Opossums are true omnivores, meaning they will eat almost anything. In the wild, some of the things Opossums can be found dining on are rodents, bugs, birds and eggs, as well as fruits and vegetables. In areas with a dense human population, the Virginia opossum enjoys things left out by humans like cat and dog food as well. Opossums are also known to scavenge for dead animals to eat. 

Awesome Opossum Facts!

Possums in Australia were actually named after opossums in America, not the other way around

The word “opossum” is from the Powhatan language, although nowadays, you will often find people simply referring to opossums as “possums”

The oldest opossum fossils are 20 million years old

Virginia opossums are the only opossum species found in the United States

Meet The Only Marsupial in The United States

Although most people probably think of Australia when they think of marsupials, the United States is lucky enough to have a marsupial species of their own! The Virginia Opossum is the northernmost marsupial in the world, and the only marsupial living north of Mexico. 

Virginia Opossums are nocturnal animals that are about the size of a domestic cat, and have hairless prehensile tails that assist them in grabbing tree branches while climbing. While Virginia opossums have the most teeth of any land mammal in North America, they have incredibly small brains. An opossum’s brain is only 1/5th as big as a raccoon’s.

One of the Virginia opossum’s most notable traits is its ability to “play possum.” When experiencing extreme fear, Opossums will play dead as a defense mechanism. Their heartrate will slow by half, and their breathing will become very shallow. To further sell their performance, Opossums will release a foul smelling odor that smells like death. 
When looking for a mate, male opossums attract females by making a sound that sounds similar to an animal training clicker. Female Virginia opossums give birth after only 11 to 13 days! The baby opossums then spend the next two and a half months in their mother’s pouch in order to finish developing. The opossums stay with their mother for another 2 months or so before heading out on their own. 

Our Virginia Opossums

A photo of a pet opossum sitting on a black and white rug