Opossum Nests | Opossum Dens

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Just like many small animals that live in the wilderness, opossums can sometimes be found taking shelter in a nest or den. These nests can be found in a variety of different locations, but they are usually in protected areas that will hide the opossum from potential predators. Throughout this post, we are going to explore the concept of opossum dens and where you might find one in the wilderness.

Opossum Nests

Opossums do not build their nests. They are sneaky and will take advantage of an abandoned nest from other animals in the wilderness. They may also look for natural shelters that provide an equivalent level of protection, such as a badger sett or an abandoned fox den.

Many animals craft and build nests in the wilderness. At some point, those nests get abandoned by the original builders. When that happens, you might think the purpose for that nest is completed. That isn’t always the case, opossums will sometimes use previously-built nests for their own shelter. 

If a mother opossum can’t find a nest for its babies, it will usually just keep them in her pouch until they are old enough to become a little more independent. Both North American Virginia opossums and Australian possums are marsupials, that have pouches.

Possum Vs Opossum – What’s the Difference? Learn more.

Possums Don’t Build Their Own Nests

It is extremely rare to observe a possum building its own nest. It’s almost unheard of completely. Unlike other animals, possums and opossums don’t scavenge for supplies to build nests. They primarily hunt for food and look for natural shelters or abandoned nests from other animals. 

One of the reasons that they prefer forest regions is because many other small animals build nests there. When these creatures abandon their nests, it becomes a golden opportunity for possums and other small animals to move into the abandoned nest. These abandoned nests often get converted into shelters for possums, especially during times of poor weather. 

Possums can move into multiple abandoned nests.  Some possums won’t even look for abandoned nests and would rather take shelter in a den that has already been established.  

The most common time when you might find a possum in a wild nest is during the daytime when the sun is out. Possums are generally nocturnal, which means they are awake during the night and sleep during the day. Possums may take shelter in an abandoned nest during the daylight hours and come out to hunt for their next meal when the moon is out at night. 

This doesn’t mean that opossums and Australian possums do not also build nests when they need to, because they do. Studies have shown that short-tailed opossums in Brazil, used more materials when the weather was colder than when the weather was slightly warmer. Even though opossums prefer to take over a nest, they still have the skills needed to build them. Source.

See our article for Are Opossums Nocturnal here.

Possum nest and den – example video.

Possums Dens vs. Possum Nests

A possum den and a possum nest can be different things. What does this mean exactly? It means that a den can be pretty much any natural location that is sufficient for a possum to take shelter in. This can be an underground shelter, or it could be an abandoned nest inside of a hollow tree.

The important thing to remember is that possums may dig their own shelters, but they won’t build and craft their own nests. They only move into nests when they are abandoned by other small wild animals. In very rare circumstances, a possum may be observed building their own nest but this is very abnormal for possums.  

Possum Nests | Animal Dens and Nests Used By Opossums

Several different types of animals build nests for shelter in the wilderness. The good news for animals like opossums is that these animals sometimes abandon their nests, which provides an excellent opportunity for opossums to move in. 

Birds are common nest builders in the wilderness. They are often found in similar regions as opossums. Birds and opossums can be found in forests and swamps, but bird nests aren’t always accessible to opossums. 

Opossums and Australian possums will take advantage of nests that were crafted by squirrels, mice, and even rabbits. Other objects or shelters built by small animals may also be used as shelter by possums if they are abandoned. 

By using abandoned nests that have been crafted by other animals, opossums can spend most of their time focusing on other objectives. The main objective is survival, but there are many layers to this goal. 

Opossums don’t only have to survive against the natural elements, but also predators that may be looking to hunt them. Taking advantage of abandoned nests can save them time and allow them to focus on finding food and avoiding predators. 

It’s also important that opossums don’t take shelter in a nest that is currently owned by a predator. It can be deadly for possums to make a miscalculation in their decision to use a nest as a shelter, especially if a predator unexpectedly shows up. 

Example of an opossum nest.

Where Do Possums Make Their Nests?

The opossum and the Australian possum find their nests in several different types of structures. As mentioned, it is not typical that they build their own nests. Let’s take a look at a list of possible opossum dens and nests.

  • Hollow trees
  • Burrows
  • Badger setts
  • Bird nests in trees
  • Piles of wood
  • Rabbit holes
  • Misc dens

Opossums are great at finding nests when they need them. They will search their home range for signs of abandoned dens and nests, utilizing them when they need them, and even curating multiple nests in an area.

Do possums nest in trees? Yes, possums nest in trees. However, they usually find nests in hollowed-out trees and piles of tree branches, rather than actually living in the tree. Forests provide plenty of opportunities for possums to find nests in trees and other types of structures.

See our article for Do Possums Climb Trees here.

Do Possums Leave Their Babies in a Nest?

Australian possums and opossums carry their babies in their pouches. They do not leave them behind in the nest. Possums tend to go from den to den and from nest to nest, carrying their baby opossums with them. They may leave their young in the nest when they are going on long journeys to find food.

Related Questions

Do possums build their own nests?

No, it is extremely rare for possums to build their own nest. They usually will only take shelter in nests built by other small animals. They can be found taking shelter in bird nests, mice nests, rabbit shelters, and squirrel nests. 

Where are possum shelters found?

Possum shelters are usually located in forest regions or swamps. They can be located high up in tree branches or deep underground. It really depends on certain local regional circumstances and the different types of terrain landscapes that are nearby.

Chad Fox