Possum vs Opossum Difference, Size, Updated 2022

Possum vs Opossum

The Possums are the animal species with pointed snouts, large, pointed ears, thick body furs, and thick bushy tails. They appear in two different colors, black, and grey. In contrast to it, Opossums possess scaly, hairless prehensile tails about half of the total body lengths, rounded naked ears, pointed snouts, and long heads. There are about five toes present in their hind and forefeet. Although both look pretty similar in appearance, they also vary differently. This blog post provides you with exciting facts comparing these animal species. 

Difference Between Possum vs Opossum



  • Possums inhabit mangrove, woodland, rainforest, forest, shrubland, eucalyptus forests, and temperate, tropical, arid, and semi-arid regions. They are present in Argentina, Chile, Southern Canada, New Guinea, Sulawesi, Australia, and North America. 
  • Opossums inhabit brushy or forested habitats and also live in places that are close to people in shrubs and cities. In addition to this, they are present in South, Central, and North America, Canada, and countries near the South of the United States.
  • There are present almost more than 60 different species of possums. Mountain Pygmy-Possum is the rarest, and cuscus is considered the largest species of possums. 
  • There are almost 100 different opossum species present globally, ranging in size from domestic cat-sized Virginia opossum to the pocket-sized Pygmy opossum.
  • The total body length, including tails, would be about 24 to 26 inches. These passive animals look wild on displaying all 50 hisses, drools, and teeth and weigh about 6 to 12 pounds.
  • These are small dog-sized animal species about 76 centimeters from nose to tail. According to National Geographic, they weigh about 4 to 6 kilograms.
  • These animal species have an exciting ability to remember the food and place where it was. Possums outscored dogs, cats, rats, and rabbits on testing, but not humans, finding their way more efficiently through the maze. 
  • These animal species also possess sharp memories, especially when about food. Several researchers have shown that opossums remember the way that led to tasty food than pigs, dogs, cats, rats, and other animals. 
  • Brushtail possums are generally solitary or alone creatures except when raising their young ones and choose a company for breeding purposes. In contrast, ringtail possums love to live in larger family groups of three or more individuals.  
  • Opossums love to forage in areas or places near their dens, travelling up to two miles searching for food at night. Furthermore, they are also solitary animals but are seen together during breeding seasons or a female with her young ones. 
  • These are the social creatures as scientists have discovered that the wild female and the wild male ones build their nests together. In addition to this, they trigger the females’ reproductive hormones. 
  • After working with captive opossums’ small colony at Bowling Green State University, Holmes has shown that these are the social animals, marking home ranges, sharing nests, and establishing pecking orders. 
  • A female possum gives birth to one to three litters per year. The males use clicking sounds produced by their mouths to attract females during mating seasons. The sperms get moved through the lateral vaginal canals, becoming separate in the female’s tract.
  • These animals undergo reproduction twice a year. The males, called jacks, leave and do not return once the mating is done. The females, called jills, give birth to twenty young ones after a gestation period of 12 to 13 days.
  • Like all other animal species, possums need proper food to survive. Their diet includes insects, grains, fruits, garbage cans, compost piles, birds, mammals, fish, and pet food dishes if they are capable of getting access. 
  • These are the scavenger animals that visit human settlements or homes in search of dumpsters, containers, and garbage cans. They appear to eat fruits, nuts, grass, worms, insects, birds, chickens, birds, mice, etc. 
  • The possums are small-sized mammals, having short lifespans. They live for almost four or more years in captivity and only one to two years in captivity.
  • The opossums appear to live an average lifespan of about one to two years. This short lifespan is due to the presence of many predators, including cats, dogs, humans, etc.
  • They are good swimmers but do not do it regularly. These animal species can become as trapped as rats, skunks, raccoons, and opossums.
  • They can swim and are considered very well at swimming, usually preferring to stay on land, otherwise will get drowned. 


Sometimes people get confused and ask questions to know more about possums and opossums. Therefore, the answers to some of those are as follows;

Do opossums play dead?

These animal species do not play dead when they are scared. Instead of this, they tend to enter a catatonic state involuntarily. Most people believe that it’s their good behavior, but in reality, the possum is in thanatosis or tonic immobility according to the scientists. Their body enters a catatonic state if threatened. 

Why do possums open their mouth?

Possums show a behavior called gaping, making a hissing noise, opening their mouths wide, and playing dead or main defense against their predators. It is said that it is defensive, not offensive, to threaten their enemies. 

Do possums eat cats?

These animal species are omnivorous wild animals, meaning that they are can kill and eat small household pets like young dogs and cats. Although these are gentle and calm creatures, people usually consider them dirt scavengers and unwanted pest animals.

Possum vs Opossum

Are opossums friendly to humans?

These are not aggressive but are incredibly calm tiny creatures. The possums show two ways of defense; either playing dead or attacking. They are not a significant danger to people unless provoked but can also cause severe damage to pets.

Are opossums blind?

Researches have shown that opossums are not blind at all, having awful eyesight at night. As they are nocturnal animal species, their pupils are permanently dilated, and vision gets improved at night.

Do opossums carry rabies?

The opossums have much lower body temperature as compared to other warm-blooded animal species. Therefore rabies is considered extremely rare in them.

Do possums growl?

These are usually slow-moving, nocturnal, and solitary animal species. They sometimes get fall into an involuntary shock-like condition called “playing dead” when unable to flee and are frightened. In addition to this, they start growling and hissing showing their fifty teeth if scared. These animal species are always on the move and do not have territory. 

Do possums keep rats away?

Researches show that possums keep cockroaches and rats away by competing with them to get food. They usually kill these animal species finding them in their territory. These animals take care of pests without causing harm to humans. 


Many species are present throughout the world, including plants, animals, and microbes, possessing unique characters and identifications. The possums and opossums are similar in appearance and many other behaviors. This blog post provides some exciting facts and information comparing these animal species. It will help if you read this article carefully.

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