Are Opossums Nocturnal?

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There are several reasons why it might be difficult to find an opossum during daylight hours. We are going to discuss whether opossums are nocturnal and why they might avoid exposing themselves in the wilderness during the day. We’re also going to look at the types of predators that they have to avoid during all hours of the day. 

Are Opossums Nocturnal?

Opossums are considered to be nocturnal. They do the majority of their hunting and foraging at night and have excellent night vision, although their night vision is limited in distance. This makes them very adaptable to night foraging. They mostly avoid the daylight because while their night vision is great, their overall vision is not good.

Many animals are nocturnal, which has certain advantages and disadvantages. Opossums primarily come out at night to avoid potential predators and because they can forage better with low light.

We’ll continue to touch on their poor vision because this is one major attribute that opossums have to deal with in the wilderness. It also has a direct connection to the fact that they are a nocturnal species. 

Why Are Opossums Nocturnal?

There’s a couple of reasons why an animal may be nocturnal. The most common reason is that they have managed to adapt to life at night. One possible scenario is that there are too many predators out during the daytime and going out at night caused their eyes to gain night vision. Several species are nocturnal for this specific reason and it’s certainly a contributing factor for opossums.

It can be easier to see at night compared to other animals because diurnal animals are limited to the same level of light provided by the moon. During the day when the sun is out, an animal like an opossum would be at a significant disadvantage in terms of vision compared to predators and other animals. For this reason, it benefits them to not come out during the daylight hours. 

Opossum sleeping in tree stump video.

When Do Opossums Sleep?

In most cases, opossums sleep when the sun is out, during the day. It’s much safer for them to sleep during daylight hours because many of their predators are out hunting the animals that are awake during this time. At night, opossums have far fewer predators to worry about in the wilderness. Which ultimately allows them to live a nocturnal lifestyle without having to worry too much. 

There are some instances where you might stumble across an opossum during the day. This is somewhat rare, but not completely unusual. It’s comparable to a person being awake and active at night, which isn’t that uncommon for some individuals. Many wild animals have been known to adapt to a crepuscular schedule, going out in twilight hours and even the day. However, this is not the case with opossums, strictly because they have a hard time seeing during the day.

Opossums can spend up to ten consecutive hours sleeping in their shelter (called a nest or a den) before coming out at night to search for food sources. They are much more active at night, which means they are more likely to hunt for food or scavenge for small supplies that might be useful for their shelter. 

Opossum Lifestyle | Nocturnal Opposums

Opossums have a lifestyle in the wilderness that heavily relies on safety and exploration. These two factors don’t always go together, especially since opossums have an unusually high number of predators, mainly because of their small size. 

It’s fairly hard to remain safe during the day when many predators are roaming around, so opossums have managed to produce adaptations that help them thrive at night. 

Sometimes an opossum may not be finding enough food. This is common in the wintertime because food supplies naturally deteriorate during this time of the year and it can make some opossums desperate to find food. During this desperation, opossums may take chances during the daytime to find food, which could expose them to harmful predators. Source.

Opossums won’t take unnecessary chances unless they are desperate to find food. Throughout their life, opossums and other small wild animals have to evaluate the risks and rewards by using their natural instincts to determine the best course of action. Opossums sometimes misjudge their circumstances and a larger predator may occasionally outsmart an opossum, which can end badly unless the opossum can scramble away to its nest. 

Are opossums nocturnal? Yes.

Do Possums Sleep in Trees?

Possums do not sleep in trees. They build nests and dens in places like hollowed-out trees, or tree stumps, under boulders, and other places. Opossums can climb trees, which is usually done in search of insects to eat, however, they would not sleep in the limbs or branches of a tree. If a possum did make it up a tree, it would probably be to get away from a predator that is looming.

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Related Questions?

Why do opossums mostly come out at night?

Opossums are considered to be nocturnal because they have poor vision and would rather come out to hunt for food and supplies at night. By coming out at night, they are neutralizing the vision gap with other potential predators and giving themselves better chances at overall survival. It’s a natural adaptation that serves as a strategic survival tactic for small animals that struggle to survive against larger predators. 

Why do some opossums come out during the daytime?

Many people speculate that opossums that come out during the day are sick with a disease or an illness. This can certainly be the case, but it’s far more likely that opossums are simply searching for food during the daytime because they are short on supplies. 

Chad Fox