Have you ever seen a possum in the wilderness? If you haven’t, then you may find their appearance a little frightening, despite their small size. In this guide, we are going to go over all of the details that can help you identify a possum.
What Do Possums Look Like?
Possums are commonly identified by their pointed face, lengthy tail, and 50 sharp teeth. Opossums have gray fur with a brownish tint. In terms of size, opossums can weigh around 10 pounds and usually have a total size of about three feet. They can be compared to the size of a small dog.
There can also be a few additional ways to identify possums that may be roaming the wilderness. We’re going to take a closer look at some of the different ways that you can positively identify a wild possum.
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When possums face off against a predator, one intimidating method of trying to deter that predator is to reveal all 50 of their sharp teeth and hiss towards them. If you are observing an intimidated possum, you may come across this harsh appearance that they exhibit towards their predators.
It’s worth remembering that possums have a total of 50 sharp teeth when they are mature adults. You won’t mistake their appearance when they reveal all 50 of their teeth in an act to try and deter a predator. They rarely have to directly face off against a predator, but they will be hissing and growling with their teeth if this occurs. Their 50 teeth, make them the land mammal with the most teeth in North America. Source.
A lot of people misidentify possums for being rats, mainly because their tails are very similar to rats. Possum tails are fairly lengthy and generally don’t have any fur or hair on them.
Possum tails are called ‘prehensile tails’, which means that they can wrap their tails around foreign objects. This doesn’t always mean that possums can hang from their tail because if they are older, their weight usually is greater than what their tail can support for long periods.
For short amounts of time, you may witness a possum wrapping its tail around a tree branch and hanging for a few moments. There is a common myth that possums can hang upside down from their tail for hours at a time, like bats, which is generally false. Their tails can appear to look scaly at times. Source.
See our article for Do Opossums Climb Trees? Here.
Possum Face | What Do Possums Look Like
With a bright and pointed face, it can be very challenging to misidentify a possum from this perspective. They have small eyes and a small pink nose, but they do have ears that are spiked in darker fur color, or hairless with black ears.
Opossums have a lot of whiskers and dark eye color. They don’t have the best vision, but can easily be identified by a human because of their unique facial properties and general appearance.
Identifying a small wild animal can require having a clear understanding of its facial properties. This is true for possums and other small animals because many of them can easily be mistaken for other species. The good news is that the pointed face is sort of a unique characteristic that very few animals have besides the opossum.
If you understand the basic facial characteristics that opossums have, you shouldn’t have any issue identifying one of them if they approach you in the wilderness.
Can Possums Change Their Fur Color?
Some animals have the incredible ability to change their fur color based on the season of the year. Possums do not fall into this category, which means that they cannot change their fur color.
Most possums have fur that is mostly dark gray. In rare situations, some possums can have fur that is tinted brown, yellow, white, or even red. Possums have a lot of unique characteristics and abilities as wild animals, but they have not yet developed the ability to change their fur color.
What Do Possums Look Like at Night?
Because opossums are primarily nocturnal, you are mostly going to run into one in the nighttime. In fact, the only times I’ve seen possums were at night, when they were crossing the road, or when I was in the woods. If you see a small animal that resembles a very large white rat, that has a pointed face and nose, then that is probably an opossum.
Most animals that are nocturnal have some degree of night vision. This will make their eyes reflect light back at you if you are in a vehicle with headlights, or are holding a flashlight. At night, your biggest giveaway that it is an opossum is the size and the shape of its face. As long as you can get a good enough look, you should be able to identify a possum at night.
What Do Baby Possums Look Like?
Possums are marsupials, that carry their young in pouches. Both Australian possums and opossums carry their babies in pouches. Baby opossums look much like miniature versions of their parents. They are about the size of a rat, but they have all of the colors and features of the opossum.
They come out hairless, much like puppies and kittens. It doesn’t take very long for them to get fur, and for their distinct facial features to start coming through. Some people find opossums to be ugly, however, when you look at a baby opossum you can’t help but think they are completely precious.
Do all possums have hairless tails?
One of the most common things that you’ll notice about possums is the fact that they have no fur on their tail. Most possums have tails without any fur, but a possum can grow hair on its tail. It’s extremely uncommon, but nearly all of the possums that you find in the wilderness will not have fur on its tail.
What color are most possums in the wilderness?
While possums can vary in general fur color, most of them have dark gray fur with slight tints of alternative colors. They generally have bright fur around their face and darker fur on their surrounding body parts.