Monday, October 22, 2012

Animal Tips for Writers: Possums

At first glance, the possum’s size, grayish fur, and naked tail might make it look like a giant rat that can menace your hero. However, the possum is actually a generally harmless American marsupial. A scavenger often seen in an urban environment, the possum is known for showing its teeth and hissing when encountered, or alternately, playing dead. The possum has a strong immune system that is resistant to the venom of certain snakes, and its diverse diet includes roadkill, trash, small animals, and fruit.

A possum playing dead.

Female possums carry their young in a pouch, but once the young get bigger they ride on their mother’s back. Adult possums are solitary and tend to roam about in search of food and water. Possum tails can grip branches to help them balance, but possums cannot hang from their tails as popularly believed except while they are small. While the correct name for the possum is “opossum,” to differentiate it from the various possums of Australia and elsewhere, many Americans prefer to simply call them possums.

(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner


  1. Interesting article, Jonathan!

    Are possums cute?


  2. Interesting, Jonathan! I didn't know that they couldn't really hang from their tails. :)

    1. Yes. :) Thank you for commenting, Grace!