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Extension Wildlife Management


opossumThe Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a medium-sized animal with long, rather coarse fur; a sharp slender muzzle; prominent, thin, naked ears; short legs all about the same length; and a long grasping tail covered with scales and scant hairs. Opossums are in the family Marsupialia, which comes from a Latin word meaning "pouch" and refers to the pouch on the belly of the females. Young opossums are born incompletely formed and are carried in this pouch while they continue their growth and development.

opossumAlthough most opossums are gray, there are several other color phases: Some are black, some are brown and a few are white. Generally, the nose is pink, the eyes are black and the ears are bluish-black. The tail is gray, and the feet and toes are pink to white. Adults range in length from 24 to 34 inches and weigh from 4 to 15 pounds. In Kansas, the breeding season begins about the first of February. Gestation takes only 12 to 13 days. The first litter is weaned in May, and the female mates again. The second litter is weaned around mid- to late September. The average number of young per litter is nine, varying from five to 13.