Didelphis virginiana

The bright-eyed little opossum is our only native North American marsupial, or pouched mammal. Cat-sized, fuzzy and gray, it has short legs, a long pointed nose and a naked tail. Its feet are pink and bare, shaped a little like human hands, with a toe (thumb) for limb grasping. The bare tail is strong and is also used for grasping.

Opossums are common in the Sacramento region mainly along streams, although they are seldom seen because they are noctural, living in hollow trees, under buildings, in rock piles or in the abandoned burrows of other animals. Fruits, eggs, and small animals make up an opossum's diet.

The young are so tiny at birth that ten could easily fit into a teaspoon. They are born 13 days after the eggs are fertilized, then spend 90 to 100 days in the mother's pouch. When threatened, an opossum may bare its mouthfull of 50 teeth and hiss, or it may collapse - "play possum" - to pretend to be dead.

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