What Do Opossums Eat? | Ultimate Guide


what-do-opossums-eat

Opossums are known primarily for their unique looks. They have long tails, cone-shaped faces, and a lot of scary-looking teeth. When it comes to food, opossums eat mostly what they can find in their home range. They will also scavenge for carrion and food left behind by other animals.

What Do Opossums Eat?

Goldfinches and Bee-eaters!
Goldfinches and Bee-eaters!

Opossums eat a variety of fruits, vegetation, insects, birds, land mammals, fish, grasses, carrion, and ticks. They are omnivores that will set up their dens near food sources, such as grubs, larva, and other easily obtainable sources. They will also feed on roadkill and carrion left by other animals.

Opossums sometimes get a bad rap for tearing up people’s yards and other household damage. However, in most cases, the damage is caused by another animal, and the opossums just wandered up on the mess to look for food left behind by the first scavenger.

Opossums can actually be very beneficial. They are basically nature’s pest control, eating a variety of bugs like ticks and others that are harmful to humans as well as pets. Source.

Are Opossums Good to Have Around?

Do possums eat ticks? Opossums eat a lot of ticks, which is a good thing for you, your pets, and your yard. It might be about time that we stop looking at opossums as pests, and start to see the positive things they bring to the table.

Because they are wild animals, it’s not a good idea to approach an opossum. You should keep your distance when observing one if you get that chance. Opossums mostly hunt and come out at night. Also, keep your pets inside if you have evidence that a wild animal is around, including opossums.

To find out why we use opossum and possum interchangeably – Click here.

what-do-opossums-eat-chart
What do opossums eat – Chart.

What is the Possums Favorite Food?

An opossum’s favorite food depends on what is available to them. They prefer to eat insects, small mammals, fruits, and vegetables. Here is a list of foods that an opossum eats:

  • Earthworms
  • Grubs
  • Larva
  • Rodents
  • Frogs
  • Grains
  • Wild grasses
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Ticks
  • Garbage
  • Pet food
  • Carrion
  • Grasshoppers
  • Snails
  • Voles
  • Birdseed

Because they are omnivores, they have a large variety of things to forage from. They are also excellent diggers and can live on insects and worms that they find in the ground.

They will also eat eggs, seasonal fruits, roadkill, nuts, and other things that will forage or hunt. Opossums can be extremely opportunistic and will eat whatever they have available to them or come across while foraging. They are considered to be millions of years old, and their diet (being able to eat anything) contributes to their ability to survive. Source.

What do opossums like to eat? – Example.

What Animals Do Opossums Prey On?

Opossums do hunt live prey. They kill mostly rodents, baby chicks, small birds, and snakes. Opossums are immune to most snake venoms. Depending on the region where the opossum lives, its main prey diet could consist of snakes.

The mammals and animals that the opossum preys on, will mostly have to do with the area where it lives. If there are lots of rodents, rodents will be the main prey diet, if there are only forage foods, the opossum will try to survive on foraging and carrion.

What do opossums eat? – Example video.

Local Food and Water Sources

As mentioned above, the prey that is available to an opossum is dependent on the types of local food sources that are available. Every region has different types of prey animals, vegetation, and opportunities for an opossum to eat.

In an urban area, opossums have been known to scavenge for food from people’s trash bins, pet food dishes, and even roadkill. When human populations move in, it generally forces wild animals to adapt. Some will move on, others will try to make a go of it in the urban environment.

An adequate water source is also important for opossums. They can get water from drinking from freshwater sources, like ponds, lakes, creeks, and even water puddles. Opossums also love to swim in the water. They are great swimmers and have been known to spend time near water holes.

What Kind of Insects Do Opossums Eat?

Insects are sometimes the opossum’s main food source. In an area where prey animals are scarce, the opossum will rely on finding insects, earthworms, and other food sources. Here is a list of insects that they eat in the wild, and also dried insects that are fed to opossums in captivity.

  • Earthworms
  • Larva
  • Grubs
  • Grasshoppers
  • Cockroaches
  • Crickets
  • Beetles
  • Ticks
  • Slugs
  • Moths
  • Mealworms

This is most likely not a complete list as opossums will eat just about anything. There are also formulated diets for opossums that used dried mealworms and other insects, as well as full prey model foods formulated for opossums.

Is it OK to Feed Opossums?

In general, it is not a good idea to feed wild animals. There are many reasons feeding opossums is a bad idea. Like them becoming dependent on humans, eating something they shouldn’t, and eating foods that are bad for their health.

However, we also know that people are going to feed them anyways. So here is a list of things that should be safe to feed to an opossum. If you are feeding opossums keep your distance, and do not approach them.

Foods to feed opossums:

  • Fruits that do not have pits
  • Cooked leftovers (mostly veggies)
  • Vegetables like carrots and peas
  • Certain types of kibble
  • Formulated opossum food
  • Frozen baby chicks
  • Mealworms

If you are planning to house an opossum as part of a rescue, then you should look into contacting a veterinarian who has a history of working with opossums, to get a perfectly formulated diet plan.

What Not to Feed Opossums

Just like with most animals, there are things that you should never feed them. Here is a list of foods that are bad for opossums and could in some cases even kill them.

Do not feed opossums these foods:

  • Cooked bones
  • Pits from cherries or peaches
  • Chocolate
  • Food with milk
  • Almonds
  • Onions
  • Canned pet foods

Foods that are high in fats or that have too many vitamins in them can be dangerous to opossums. Pits in cherries and peaches can have small amounts of cyanide in them. Other foods on this list are just not good to feed to any wild animals.

What Do Baby Opossums Eat?

When opossums are babies, they are very small. They are around the size of a peanut. In this early stage, they stay inside of their mother’s pouch. In the pouch, they feed on their mother’s milk. This stage lasts about 90 days.

After they leave the pouch, they start to eat nuts, wild grasses, and other forage items. After this, they learn to hunt, and how to find insects. This is a process just about every wild animal has to go through.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do opossums eat chickens?

Opossums mostly eat very small game animals, such as rodents. If an opossum were to eat a chicken, it would be carrion (already dead) or it would be a baby chick that it came across strictly through opportunity.

Do possums eat plants?

Opossums eat plants, vegetables, wild grasses, and other vegetation. They are omnivores so their diet includes seasonal fruits, nuts, prey animals, birds, fish, and many others.

Do possums eat bugs?

bugs and insects are a large part of the opossum’s diet. They eat a variety of bugs from beetles, to cockroaches. In some regions, insects may be the only source of food for an opossum.

Do possums eat animals?

Possums eat small prey animals. These are creatures like rats, mice, rodents, small birds, baby rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and more. As long as the prey is smaller than the opossum, it has a chance.

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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