Opossum Habitat


opossum-habitat

Understanding the habitat of an opossum and the reasons that their species thrive in it can be important for people that want to grow their understanding of opossums. Opossums can’t live in every habitat, but they can adapt to their local environmental conditions to give themselves a better chance at long-term survival. 

Opossum Habitat

Cocker Spaniels hunting Woodcock in...
Cocker Spaniels hunting Woodcock in the snow

The most common place where you will find a large number of opossums is the deep forests of Virginia. Virginia has millions of acres of brushy forests that provide excellent habitats for opossums. The reason that opossums like to live in this type of environment is that it provides them with all of the necessary resources to survive. 

While opossums can live in other types of habitats, it’s much less convenient for them and probably more dangerous. They will struggle to find the resources that they need in the desert and mountainous regions as well as other regions that may be imbalanced in terms of resources and predators. For this reason, opossums seem to thrive in forest regions where there is a wide variety of resources. 

Where Do Opossums Make Their Habitats?

Opossums can be found across North America, including the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Every state within the U.S. currently has an opossum population, but the states with large forests are the ones that are most appealing to opossums. They have gone from occupying only a part of states like California, to expanding their range to the entire state. Source.

Population numbers for opossums are always changing based on local environmental conditions. During these transitional periods, opossums can also experience new hazards that cannot be predicted. This includes impacts that are caused by human beings. Human construction work and natural weather are two of the most common factors that contribute to these rapid population shifts for opossums.

Why Do Opossums Live In Forests?

One of the main reasons that you might find a significant amount of opossums in forest environments is because these environments generally have all of the supplies and resources that opossums need to survive. 

Opossums can find food, shelter, and other important resources for their survival in forests. They can breed and protect their babies without having to worry about most predators. You might find opossums hanging out up in a tree as they try to scavenge for supplies in these types of environments. It can be easier to survive in trees when living in a forest because it’s much more challenging for a predator to hunt in those conditions.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all opossums choose to live in forests. There is a significant portion of the opossum population that lives in a different type of region. Despite the local challenges that they face, some opossums do live in deserts and mountainous regions instead of forests and swamps.

It can be challenging for opossums that live in these wide-open environments because they may face dangerous predators and other environmental challenges. Despite their short life span, opossums are forced to start their breeding season in early January. They have to find an effective shelter within their environment to protect their babies when they are born. 

Opossum habitat – Video example.

Where Do Opossums Sleep? | Opossum Habitat

Opossums generally sleep during the daytime when the sun is out. They are mostly a nocturnal species and need a safe shelter, just like most other animals. Many opossums choose to dig underground tunnels that lead to their den. Others use natural objects or abandoned nests to serve as their shelter.

There’s not always a convenient place to sleep on the ground for an opossum. When this is the case, they may be forced to climb trees within the forest to try and find an abandoned nest. In rare cases, they may simply sleep exposed on a tall branch. Opossums will sometimes build their own nests or add to the nest, by dragging grass and leaves with their tail and back legs. Source.

The primary goal for opossums is to find a safe location that is not easily accessible by their predators. Opossums will use their instincts to find locations that fit into the protective criteria that they are looking for. It’s not uncommon for opossums to be forced to move to a new shelter periodically to remain hidden from predators.

How Many Possums Live Together?

Both opossums and Australian possums tend to be solitary. They do not pair up and live together. Instead, the female opossum (a jill) will usually stay with the young, while the male opossum (a Jack) will most likely go on to mate again with another female.

Seeing multiple opossums together will probably mean that it is a mother opossum with her babies (babies are called joeys.)

See our article for Opossum Babies here.

Can opossums live in any type of environment?

No, opossums can’t survive in any type of environment. However, they can adapt to their local environment, but that doesn’t mean they can live anywhere. They need food, water, and shelter to protect themselves from predators. Forests and swamps usually provide this level of protection, but other environments like deserts and extremely cold regions are probably not a good place for an opossum to live. 

Do opossums prefer any specific types of environments?

Opossums have similar lifestyles to several other small animals that live in similar regions. Opossums are the kind of animals that have their best chance of survival in forests and swamps.  Due to the wide variety of resources and food, it’s uncommon to find large opossum populations outside of these specific regions.

Chad Fox

Chad Fox is an outdoorsman who loves spending time in nature, working on ranches in Texas, and observing wildlife.

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