Do Possums Climb Trees?

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Possums have several unique skills that play into their favor when roaming the wilderness. One of those skills happens to be climbing. Possums can climb several different types of objects because they have toes that are called ‘hallux’. It helps them climb up trees and other objects like brick walls, rocks, and tree stumps. 

Do Possums Climb Trees?

Possums and opossums use their feet to effectively climb tall trees. They are known for being excellent at climbing, which can help them escape from larger animals that don’t have the same ability. Out of all of the animals that are native to Australia, only a few of them can climb better than an Australian possum.

Many people may have heard that some possums can hang upside down. This is generally rare and true, but finding a possum that hangs upside down is about as likely as finding a vampire. Only young possums and opossums can hang from trees, as they get older, they get too heavy for their tails to support them.

Possums would rather scavenge for their next meal, or resources for their shelter, instead of simply hanging upside down all day. With that being said, possums are very capable of surviving and escaping from predators by climbing large trees. 

Did you know there can be a difference between possums and opossums? – learn more.

Example of possum climbing tree – Video.

Why Do Possums Climb?

Possums climb just about every day they are alive and old enough to do so. Possums and opossums are marsupials, that stay in their mother’s pouch for several months before they start caring for themselves. During this transition process, possums learn to climb and scavenge for materials and food.

Naturally, they’ll eventually face off against a predator. It’s likely during this altercation, that they’ll either ‘play dead’ or try to escape by climbing a large tree. 

While possums can climb to escape a predator, they sometimes just do it to explore and look for food. Possums can find nests in trees and find useful resources that might help them survive. 

Are Opossums Skilled at Climbing?

Opossums are reasonably skilled at climbing. They have feet that can easily grip onto smoother surfaces, which allows them to use all of their strength to scale objects. 

In addition to their feet helping them climb, it’s important to have sufficient balance once you’re high up in a tree. A lengthy tail can help contribute to their balance after climbing high up.

Since opossums are nocturnal, it’s very unlikely that you’ll see a possum in a tree during the daytime. They like to climb up at night and search for resources or food. They sometimes climb up and down trees with resources that they bring to their shelter. 

Some opossums choose to remain on the ground for most of their life, while some have developed a level of comfort towards climbing. A lot of it depends on whether a possum’s local environment has a lot of trees and predators. Opossums are a curious species and climbing a tree to search for something is one way that a possum can relieve this natural instinct. 

What Types of Trees Do Possums Climb?

It’s very common to find an Australian possum in a Southern Blue Gum Tree, also known as ‘Eucalyptus globulus’. These are commonly found in Australia and in similar environments to where you might find a population of possums. 

The leaves that come from this tree are called Eucalyptus leaves, which happens to be a popular food choice for some possums that live in Australia. While they are willing to eat a wide range of plants, leaves, fruits, and vegetables,  possums have to balance the risks of obtaining these popular food choices against the possibility of being found by a predator while scavenging. 

For this reason, possums have to be very careful about when they attempt to scavenge or climb. They often search for supplies at night, but that doesn’t always mean that they are protected from a predator.  

Opossums are also great climbers and will climb any type of tree that is native to the forest areas where it lives. To get away from a predator an opossum has the skill to climb any tree that is nearby. The opossum’s tail gets used while climbing to help balance the way an extra hand or limb would. Source.

Australian possum climbing tree – Example.

Do Possums Live In Trees?

There’s no wrong answer to this question, mainly because both answers are acceptable when discussing possums. Some possums in Australia spend much of their life living up high in a tree, while other possums only rarely climb trees. 

Australian possums and North American opossums will sometimes make their den or nest inside of a hollow tree. They can spend time in trees and even sleep inside of them. They do not usually sleep on tree limbs, however, both types of possums do it occasionally.

It depends on the experiences that a specific possum has had since they were born. If they rode on their mother’s back regularly as they climbed into trees, it’s probably more likely for that possum to eventually go on to climb themselves after they mature and become independent.

On the other side of the equation, if a possum has never been up in a tree with its mother, it’s probably far less likely to be comfortable with doing that on its own, even after it becomes self-dependent.

Not all possums and opossums are alike. While they all live similar lives, some possums may spend a majority of their life up in a tree while others don’t even consider the idea as an option to their lifestyle. 

Related Questions

How high can possums climb?

Possums are skilled climbers because they have ideal feet and a lengthy tail that allows them to efficiently climb. It’s not uncommon for possums to climb as high as the tallest tree branch on a tree. You might also see possums climb power lines or onto a tall roof. 

Do possums climb to escape predators?

Yes, possums climb to evade potential predators. They might also be willing to climb trees to search for food supplies or other resources for their shelter.

Chad Fox