The Opossum is the only marsupial (pouched animal) native to the United States. It has a white face with 50 pointy teeth, grayish-white loose fur and a scaly long tail (used as a fifth limb). Adults measure about 2.5 feet in length and 1 foot in height. They look like big Rats, but are not related to them in any way, but are closely related to the Kangaroo & Koala. Females can give birth up to twice a year (typically 5-8 in a litter). These babies are very tiny, about the size of honeybees. They will immediately crawl into the mother's pouch after birth, where they continue to develop (usually about 4 months of age when they are ready to leave the pouch). Opossums are scavengers and eat almost anything, including fruits & vegetables, snails/slugs, snakes, a wide variety of insects, garbage and dead animals of all types. They also catch and eat rats & mice, in some way they help maintain a clean & healthy environment and have a naturally high level of immunity to most diseases, including rabies, but can carry fleas ,as do most domestic animals. Opossums are nocturnal and typically go about their quiet task late at night. They are also excellent tree climbers but cannot jump and sometimes get trapped in trash cans and other containers. Opossums do not dig holes/destroy properties and are non-territorial. They are always on the move and adapt to any environment where food, water & shelter exist. They live in hollow logs, attics, crawl spaces, pipes and ready made burrows. Opossums may drool, growl and show their 50 teeth when frightened, but in reality are non-aggressive and prefer to avoid confrontation, however, never try to grab one, they can bite. During cases of extreme fear of being harmed or attacked (unable to flee), the Opossum will collapse and "play dead", they become stiff, eys closed or half closed, their mouths will gape open (teeth bared), tongue extended and foul-smelling fluid is secreted from the anal glands; mimicking the appearance and smell of a sick or dead animal. This physiological response is involuntary (like fainting), rather than a conscious act. This condition will last 40 minutes to 4 hours and most preadtors will abandon their attack, once the Opossum is thought to be dead. In the case of baby Opossums, however, their brain does not always react this way at the appropriate moment, and therfore they often fail to "play dead" when threatened. If you do see an Opossum, just leave it alone, it will go away or you can always call your local rescue group or a professional Pest Control Company for help if you don't want them around or if they are trapped (they will catch & release them) ;Trying to scare it will just make it "play dead". Some other tips to avoid having Opossums around your house include: Keeping lids on garbage cans, picking up fallen fruit, putting away pet food at night and close potential entrance points into your home.
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