Many people are afraid of opossums. Some think of a gross, creepy, ugly creature with beady eyes and sharp teeth when they hear the word “possum”. But opossums are none of those things. Thanks to the Twitter page #PossumEveryHour, a whole new light is being shed on these creatures of the night. If you’ve heard of nothing but negative things about these interesting and helpful animals, keep reading to learn a little bit of truth that will most likely make you feel completely different.Eleven to thirteen days after mating, the female opossum may birth 20 babies, but the average litter is 8 to 9 babies. At birth, the embryonic-looking pink babies are so tiny that 20 of them could fit into a teaspoon.
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of opossums is their ability to play dead when they become scared. What most people don’t realize is that they have no control of this! In fact, it’s actually an automatic response to stress, so if you see a possum playing dead, back away because you’re stressing it out.
One of the biggest things people are scared of when it comes to possums is the rumor that they carry Lyme disease and rabies. That’s right, those are just rumors. Opossums actually have an immunity to these diseases and are actually eight times less likely to carry the disease than a dog!
One of the possums greatest food sources are ticks, which are well-known for carrying Lyme disease. Because of their affinity to eat these nasty little bugs, there are a lot fewer ticks out there than there would be without possums. According to the National Wildlife Federation, one possum can eat up to 5,000 ticks in a season!
According to researchers, a possum can remember the exact route they took to find food. In fact, their memory is even better than a pig or a rat! Also, they can remember eating something poisonous up to one year after eating it!
While possums sure do look cute with their little tails, they actually use it to help them get around! Because they’re one of the very few animals with a prehensile tail, they’re able to use it as another arm! Even though it is very useful, they can only use it for a short amount of time, so they don’t actually sleep hanging upside down like most people believe they do.
According to The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, “possums, like housecats, use their tongue and paws to groom themselves frequently and thoroughly.” Also, because they don’t have sweat glands, they don’t have any kind of odor, either.
The menacing eyes of a possum are one of its most distinguishable characteristics, but they’re eyes aren’t actually black! While they do have whites and irises, their pupils are always extremely dilated so they just appear to have black eyes!
Possums have to make sure that they clean their teeth quite frequently because they have a whole bunch of them in that mouth of theirs. In fact, a full-grown possum can have up to 50 teeth in their mouth at a time!
While most people believe that opossums are skittish and anti-social, they’re actually very social creatures. Not only do they like to live in a family-type dynamic, but scientists have found that a male and female in the wild will build a nest together in the hopes of kicking the female into her reproductive state.