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Opossums: Natural Science


What are Opossums?


The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is more closely related to kangaroos than to any other mammal in North America. It’s our only member of the ancient group of animals called the marsupials, or animals with pouches.

Opossum is the official name. However, both opossum and “possum” were written down by early colonists as approximate translations of the Virginia Algonquian word “apousoum,” which meant “white animal.”  While once non-existent in New England, opossums are abundant in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. They can even be found as far north as Vermont and Maine.

Virginia opossums are about the size of housecats, and are mostly grey, with a white face. They have a pointed nose, short legs, and a long rat-like tail. These animals walk in a curiously slow, hobbling manner. However, they’re able climbers. They often use their flexible tails for balance, or to hold nesting material when climbing, and young use their tails to cling to their mothers’ backs. Continue reading from Massachusetts Audubon


Books about Opossums and Marsupials

Link to A Field Guide To Mammals of North America by Fiona Reid in the Catalog
Link to Pocket Babies and Other Amazing Marsupials by Sneed B Collard in the Catalog
Link to The World's Cutest Animals by Lonely Planet Kids in Freading
Link to Baby Animals in Pouches by Martha E.H. Rustad in the Catalog
Link to Super Marsupials: Kangaroos, Koalas, Wombats, and More by Katharine Kenah in the Catalog

Link to Discover the Natural World Resource Guide Series