Calif. Publ. They have long snouts and small, sharp teeth. While their natural habitats are diverse, ranging from arid to moist and wooded to open fields, opossums prefer environments near streams or wetlands. Opossums are about 2 to 3 feet long, including the tail, and weigh up to 15 pounds, although most fall within the 4 to 7 pound range. Opossums have large canines and small incisors. Female opossums reach puberty at six to eight months and bear their young after a 12-day gestation period. Once an opossum has taken up residence beneath a building or deck, you have to be sure the animal has left before blocking the opening. Young opossums are sometimes seen riding on their mother's back. The young are weaned at about 14 weeks, at which time they are about 9 inches long, not including the tail. The opposable toe on the hind foot assists in holding on to small branches or similar structures. After a short 13-day gestation period, the tiny, hairless young are born. The second litter will be sufficiently grown to leave the mother by fall. A cattle-type electric fence charger activates the wire. Marsupials are distinguished by their abdominal pouch used for carrying their young. 74116. Unlike most wild animals, the opossum flourishes in urban areas, and the presence of human settlements actually serves to increase the opossum’s habitat and population size. An occasional visit by an opossum or a family of opossums may not present cause for concern unless you have pets that remain outdoors at night. FEMALE opossums make great pets if you work with them and train them every single day. Opossums are well adapted for climbing. In a few months they will reproduce and continue the fascinating life cycle of the Virginia opossum. NATIONAL OPOSSUM SOCIETY PHOTOGRAPHS, GRAPHICS, DRAWINGS, AND ARTICLES ARE COPYRIGHTED. Opossums may give birth to as many as 20 babies in a litter, but fewer than half of them survive. Identification of possum poop. Opossums were first introduced to California in San Jose in 1910. Having lost much of their natural fear of people, they will even enter a home through a pet door in search of food. Managing Opossum Problems The opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a house cat sized mammal (4 -14 Ibs.) a: Hind foot track; b: front foot track; c: trail pattern; d: hind foot, note unusual arrangement of the toes; e: front foot. THEY’RE CONSTANTLY SELF-GROOMING. Once they have invaded a neighborhood they are probably there to stay so long as food, water, and shelter are available. Males are usually larger than females. Mortality in the young is high; most will perish before they are a year old. Opossums are about the size of a house cat with males, called Jacks, being slightly larger than females, called Jills. Their feet resemble small hands with five widely spread fingers. Accessibility Litter size averages about eight or nine, and one or two litters are born each year. A motion-activated sprinkler device sometimes induces a fright response in opossums, skunks, and raccoons. Reproduction: In California, the Virginia opossum mates in January-February and June-July. These chemicals may also build up toxicity in the soil thereby posing an additional threat. Normally opossums live alone except when with young and then, since the young remain in the pouch, they leave with the mother. 2014. Traps should be at least 10 x 12 x 32 inches in size and set along trails or known routes of travel. Scavenger Behavior. Contact UC IPM, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, © 2019 Regents of the University of California Univ. The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), commonly known as the North American opossum, is the only marsupial found north of Mexico. Most standard possums reach to about 15 to 20 inches in length. 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