By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. [3] Opossums have a diverse palate when it comes to food; they'll eat everything from insects to snakes to … The water opossum has several adaptations for its watery lifestyle. They Gravitate Toward Water . Water Opossums measure 27 – 40 centimetres (10.5 – 16 inches) in length and weigh between 600 – 800 grams (1.25 – 1.75 pounds). They are distributed from southern Mexico to Belize and Argentina. Opossums are a family of over 100 species of marsupials that are native to a variety of habitats in North and South America, and they typically live not far from a water source and often dwell in trees. Below, explore facts about the Virginia opossum including its habits and how to identify damage. An opossum's tail makes up 1/3 of its body length. The opossum is a successful scavenger, thanks to its adaptability and excellent immune system. It is also the only living marsupial in which both sexes have a pouch. Opossums are mostly docile and harmless creatures that are rarely dangerous. This amazing species is North America’s only marsupial (pouched mammal). Yapok is another name for the water opossum. The opossum is a marsupial that can be found in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America.Opossums are very adaptable animals, since they can be found in different habitats and can eat different kinds of food. The thylacine, commonly referred to as … The extinct Thylophorops, the largest known opossum at 4–7 kg, was a macropredator. Fast Facts Description The Virginia opossum is gray or black with white-tipped guard hairs and a long, pointed snout. General Facts » They have scaly feet, and a scaly prehensile tail. >> When opossums are attacked, they will “play possum,” pretending that they are dead; they remain still, they […] in our animals facts archive. The water opossum's tail, furred and black at the base, is yellow or white at its end. The chilly weather usually leads to frostbite on its hairless tail, paws, or ears. Omissions? in our animals facts archive. The water opossum, or yapok (Chironectes minimus), a carnivorous opossum found from Mexico to Argentina, is the only marsupial adapted to a semiaquatic life: it has webbed hind toes, dense oily fur, and a pouch opening that can be tightened to keep the young dry. Check out our water opossum selection for the very best in unique or custom, handmade pieces from our shops. Water Opossum. TAXONOMY. The colour of the back is silvery gray overlaid by dark brown to black markings on the shoulders, back, hips, and rump, interconnected by a narrow black stripe running from the back of the head to the tail. The water opossum-the yapok also eats freshwater fish like the crawfish or mollusks. Fun possum facts. 1. Of the 100+ opossum species in the world, the most common and recognizable in the United States is the Virginia opossum. A pouch is present in both sexes, but only in the female can it be closed to keep the young dry. Opossums Are Smart Critters . The hair covering of a Water Opossum is quite unusual, the fur is a combination of black and gray. This order consists of more than 103 that are further classified into 19 genera. [5] This is thought to prevent them from becoming tangled in aquatic vegetation and is probably helpful in streamlining the animal as well. Here are some amazing facts about this creature that might change you from an opossum hater to an opossum fan. A Water Opossum's ears are round, and on top of the eyes are bristles. Water Opossum facts and knowledge. The largest species of possum is the cuscus. Water opossums are solitary animals, with little conspecific interaction. Killed by many predators: humans (and cars), dogs, cats, owls, and larger wildlife. The water opossum (Chironectes minimus), also locally known as the yapok (/ˈjæpɒk/), is a marsupial of the family Didelphidae. [2] It is the only living member of its genus, Chironectes. A light band runs across the forehead anterior to the ears, which are rounded and naked. Water Opossums measure 27 – 40 centimetres (10.5 – 16 inches) in length and weigh between 600 – 800 grams (1.25 – 1.75 pounds). It is not impossible to find Water Opossums at high-altitude areas. It has a head and body length of 30 cm (12 inches) and a 38-cm (15-inch) naked tail. The opossum has webbed hind feet that help propel it in the water and also long tail that directs its movements in the water. 1. Water Opossums live in southern Mexico and South America. Opossum Facts. It is because of their biolo… [3] If looks could kill, opossums would be some of the fiercest predators. Opossums are known for eating ticks that spread Lyme disease which helps with the spread of the disease. The life span in the wild is unknown, but one water opossum lived 2 years 11 months in captivity. Water Opossums are carnivorous, easting fish and other small aquatic animals. The most notable is the Virginia opossum or common opossum—the only marsupial (pouched mammal) found in the United States and Canada. Water Opossums are carnivorous, easting fish and other small aquatic animals. Morphology of the male genital system of Chironectes minimus and comparison to other didelphid marsupials. [3] This semiaquatic creature is found in and near freshwater streams and lakes from Mexico through Central and South America to Argentina and is the most aquatic living marsupial (the lutrine opossum also has semiaquatic habits). The water opossum lives in bankside burrows, emerging after dusk to swim and search for fish, crustaceans and other aquatic animals, which it eats on the bank. Interesting Opossum Facts! Good thing they're pretty harmless to humans! The most common species are the common brushtail possum and the common ringtail possum. The Opossums or possums are the small marsupial mammals that fall under the order Didelphimorphia. Opossum Facts: 1. Opossums Are Smart Critters . Geographic Range. Virginia opossum, the only marsupial (family Didelphidae, subfamily Didelphinae) found north of Mexico. The opossum has a relatively short life span of around 2 years (or 4 years in captivity). Distribution of the Opossum. Length 10.6-15.7 in (27-40 cm); weight 21.2-28 oz (600-790g). PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS. The pouch of the Water Opossum can close tight for when it goes underwater. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. The water opossum (Chironectes minimus), also locally known as the yapok, an aquatic marsupial are member of the opossum family with black and grey waterproof fur, webbed hind feet and a backward-pointing pouch in both sexes.This creature is found in the freshwater streams and lakes in Mexico, Central and South America to Argentina.. Curator, New World Mammals, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Wildlife Biologist, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, United States Geological Survey, Laurel,... Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. They are natives of the South American region. This includes feeding animals you keep outside, such as chickens. Diet. Likewise eating cooked Virginia opossum meat is believed to prevent heart attacks, using an ointment composed of opossum fat is believed to treat epilepsy and infusing opossum bones in water is believe to treat allergies, dermatitis and coughing. Opossum - Water Opossum Facts & Trivia for kids The Water Opossum is also called a yapok. In this lesson, you will learn about the yapok's behavior and habitat and we will look at some facts about these interesting creatures. Length 10.6–15.7 in (27–40 cm); weight 21.2–28 oz (600–790g). By 22 days the offspring are beginning to show some fur, and by 40 days or so their eyes are open, their bodies protruding from the mother's pouch. Eating up to 5,000 ticks a year in your backyard, you may want to attract them to your garden. Water Opossum facts and knowledge. Water Opossums live in southern Mexico and South America. Don’t confuse an American opossum with an Australian possum – they’re quite different! While opossums may seem like vermin, they actually make great neighbors. The most common species are the common brushtail possum and the common ringtail possum. One of the shortest lived mammals for its size, typically 2 to 4 years. https://www.britannica.com/animal/water-opossum. It is the only marsupial that depends almost entirely on aquatic prey, such as fish, molluscs, and frogs. It is not known when the breeding season is, but females have been found with two to five young in the pouch in July, December, January, February, and March. Water opossums eat fish, crabs, frogs, freshwater shrimp, and other small animals found in and along watercourses. A prehensile tail can be wrapped around branches to … Of the 100+ opossum species in the world, the most common and recognizable in the United States is the Virginia opossum. They Gravitate Toward Water . The hindfeet of the water opossum are webbed, while the forefeet ("hands") are not. The tail is a little longer than the head and body, densely furred at the base and scaly, nearly naked, and dark brown or black for most of its length except at the tip, which is yellowish white. Because it lives near rivers, stream and lakes the mammal’s diet is primarily made up for aquatic plants and … 1. Normal litters range from seven to 21 offspring, but as many as 50 dime-sized babies may be born in a single litter. They sleep during the day in a den in a hollow tree or in an abandoned rodent burrow. The water opossum, found on the fringes of the South American rainforest and wetlands, is the most aquatic marsupial in the world. 4 Facts About The Water Opossum. However, they are known to hunker down in their dens to wait out bad weather. Opossums are, however, highly adaptable. The Yapok also known as the Water Opossum is an interesting Marsupial that is known for being unlike any other animal on the planet. Opossum Biology, Life Cycle, Habitat, Diet Whether you have an interest in learning more about the wildlife around your home or want to better understand them as a way to keep them off your property, finding out more about opossums can be a very interesting endeavor. Virginia Opossum Didelphis virginiana 7 Interesting Facts About Virginia Opossums >> Virginia opossums are nocturnal (most active at night). The water opossum (Chironectes minimus), also locally known as the yapok (/ˈjæpɒk/), is a marsupial of the family Didelphidae. Most opossums are around the size of a housecat. They dig steep tunnels that end in a n… >> When opossums are attacked, they will “play possum,” pretending that they are dead; they remain still, they […] This behavior … At 48 days of age, the young opossums detach from the nipples, but they still nurse and sleep with the mother. Water opossum, ( Chironectes minimus ), also called yapok or yapock, a semiaquatic, web-footed marsupial (family Didelphidae, subfamily Didelphinae) found along tropical rivers, streams, and lakes from Mexico to Argentina. The species that many people think of when hearing about this animal is the common opossum, also known as Virginia opossum. Adults average 70 cm (28 inches) in total length and weigh up to 790 grams (1.7 pounds). Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). It lives around freshwater lakes, rivers and streams. Also known as the "yapok", it is the only marsupial that likes to swim. One of the opossum specie is even skilled enough to subdue scorpions. [8] It is the only living member of its genus, Chironectes. However, opossums are world-class tree climbers, with sharp claws, opposable thumbs on their hind feet, and a prehensile tail that helps them scale trunks and hang onto branches. They keep urban areas free from ticks and other pests, which keeps communities cleaner and healthier. From opposable toes to an ability to feign death in an instant, discover the most fascinating facts about the opossum. Their hind feet are webbed and both male and female have pouches. Opossum - Water Opossum Facts & Trivia for kids The Water Opossum is also called a yapok. Holocene subfossil fragments of Chironectes have been discovered in São Paulo, Brazil. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS. The water opossum's long tail also aids in swimming. Latra minima (Zimmerman, 1780), Cayenne, French Guiana. Water Opossum Description. Water Opossums measure 27 – 40 centimetres (10.5 – 16 inches) in length and weigh between 600 – 800 grams (1.25 – 1.75 pounds). … The water opossum or yapok (Chironectes minimus) is particularly unusual, as it is the only living semi-aquatic marsupial, using its webbed hindlimbs to dive in search of freshwater mollusks and crayfish. A strong ring of muscle makes the pouch (which opens to the rear) watertight, so the young remain dry, even when the mother is totally immersed in water. A female opossum gives birth to helpless young as tiny as honeybees. There are more than 60 species of opossum. They prefer warm climates, which you can tell from their distribution (Mexico to Argentina is a generally warm portion of the world). As the name 'water opossum' implies, they prefer to live in wet areas. Latra minima (Zimmerman, 1780), Cayenne, French Guiana. It is also the only living marsupial in which both sexes have a pouch. The water opossum is the most aquatic marsupial. ", Natural history of the water opossum Chironectes minimus: a review. They are symmetrical as well, which distributes force equally along both borders of the webbing; this increases the efficiency of the water opossum's movement through the water. Adaptable; able to live wherever water, food, and shelter exist. One of the shortest lived mammals for its size, typically 2 to 4 years. Virginia opossums’ pelts may also be sold commercially. in our animals facts archive. While opossums may seem like vermin, they actually make great neighbors. There are over 100 species of opossum, but only one species lives north of Mexico, the Virginia opossum. They have become quite adept at surviving in urban areas. Remove all sources of food and water before dusk settles in, and keep pet food away from pet doors or other openings to the house. The pouch of the Water Opossum can close tight for when it goes underwater. Opossums originated in South America and are believed to have entered North America during the Great American Interchange, which is when the continents connected and is believed to have occurred approximately 2.7 million years ago. This creature is found in the freshwater streams and lakes in Mexico, Central and South America to Argentina. Yapoks can be found throughout Central and South America, from Mexico all the way down to Argentina. Opossum Facts. The water opossum (Chironectes minimus), also locally known as the yapok, an aquatic marsupial are member of the opossum family with black and grey waterproof fur, webbed hind feet and a backward-pointing pouch in both sexes. The Water Opossum (Chironectes minimus) or ‘Yapok’ is found in the tropical forests of South America. If left unharmed, a catatonic opossum will recover in roughly one to four hours. They are considered as one of the major marsupials that are found in the Western Hemisphere. Fun Facts for Kids. The Yapok also known as the Water Opossum is an interesting Marsupial that is known for being unlike any other animal on the planet. There are 23 possum species in Australia. Usually, the crown and the muzzle are predominantly black, with a pale band at the forehead. Size Approximately 609 to 914 mm (24 to 36 inches) Weight 2.7 to 5.9 kg (6 to 13 lbs.) Babies immediately crawl into the mother's pouch, where they continue to develop. The pregnant mother may also stay submerged in water while the young newborns are safe inside of the marsupial's pouch. The Water opossum is the most aquatic living marsupial and is also the only living marsupial in which both the males and females have a pouch. Possums are also native to Papua New Guinea and Sulawesi, and are also found as an introduced species in New Zealand and China. The fur is short and dense with a few intermixed longer hairs. The natural habitat of these animals range from subtropical up to tropical territories, and also near freshwater streams. Water opossum, (Chironectes minimus), also called yapok or yapock, a semiaquatic, web-footed marsupial (family Didelphidae, subfamily Didelphinae) found along tropical rivers, streams, and lakes from Mexico to Argentina. Opossum facts might surprise you. Fernandez, Fernando Antonio dos Santos, et al. Corrections? The forefeet can be used to feel for and grab prey as the animal swims, propelled by its tail and webbed back feet. Adaptable; able to live wherever water, food, and shelter exist. The danger is made even more pressing because opossums don't hibernate in winter. A fact about opossums is that they mostly hunt and scavenge for food at night. Learn fast facts about Water Opossums in food plan, habitat, prey, replica, and so forth. Opossum eyes do have whites and irises, but because their pupils are so large, their eyes appear completely black from a distance. Possums are often attracted to chicken feed and they can kill your chickens if they go into a coop, so feed your chickens midday if possible. Likewise eating cooked Virginia opossum meat is believed to prevent heart attacks, using an ointment composed of opossum fat is believed to treat epilepsy and infusing opossum bones in water is believe to treat allergies, dermatitis and coughing. Believe it or not, this opossum is very well adapted to the water. The diet of an opossum usually consists of a wide range of plants, fruits, seeds, insects like cockroaches and bugs, small reptiles like lizards, bird eggs, earthworms, and snails. Weiler Woods for Wildlife [4] Unlike other didelphids, the water opossum does not have a cloaca.[5]. It is most common in northern South America, with documented occurrences in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela (rare), Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. They keep urban areas free from ticks and other pests, which keeps communities cleaner and healthier. The face and ears are blackish brown, except for the silvery white cheek and spot above each eye. Virginia opossums’ pelts may also be sold commercially. Water Opossum facts and knowledge. For example, they have webbed feet, waterproof fur and that useful little carrying pouch will actually become watertight while submerged. Water Opossums is the only aquatic marsupial. Only one species of opossum, the Virginia opossum, lives in the United States and Canada. Learn fast facts about Water Opossums in food plan, habitat, prey, replica, and so forth. The water opossum, found on the fringes of the South American rainforest and wetlands, is the most aquatic marsupial in the world. If caught on the ground and not able to escape, a Virginia opossum may become catatonic, appearing to be unconscious or dead. Adults average 70 cm (28 inches) in total length and weigh up … These marsupials have an elongated snout, and a large sagittal crest – a bone making their forehead look taller. Opossum Facts. At home in trees; uses its prehensile tail to help stabilize position when climbing— it does not, however, hang by its tail. TAXONOMY. Latra minima (Zimmerman, 1780), Cayenne, French Guiana. Possums are also native to Papua New Guinea and Sulawesi, and are also found as an introduced species in New Zealand and China. General Facts » Are opossums dangerous? Yapoks build their nests underground. Updates? The opossum is only limited in its range due to cold or lack of water and are very adaptable animals. The local name for the water opossum, "yapok", probably comes from the name of the Oyapok River in French Guiana. Being a marsupial and at the same time an aquatic animal, the water opossum has evolved a way to protect its young while swimming. The largest species of possum is the cuscus. At home in trees; uses its prehensile tail to help stabilize position when climbing— it does not, however, hang by its tail. Fun possum facts. Water opossums are nocturnal and semi-aquatic and use tactile, auditory and olfactory senses for foraging and reproduction. TAXONOMY. Water Opossums have waterproof coats which have a grey and black pattern. Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Infraclass: Marsupialia Superorder: Ameridelphia Order: Didelphimorphia Family: Didelphidae The Virginia opossum, the most common member, is termed as Didelphis virginiana. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS. While opossums prefer deciduous woodlands with nearby sources of water – like streams or swamps – they are extremely adaptable and succeed in a variety of habitats and climates. They build their nests along the banks of freshwater rivers and lakes, and they typically live in or near tropical and sub-tropical forests. The water opossum is a small opossum, 27-32.5 cm long, with a 36–40 cm long tail. They also became part of the North America following the Great American Interchange. The opossum is a successful scavenger, thanks to its adaptability and excellent immune system. Their sensitive ears and whiskers are important in detecting prey in the dark and in the water. They are also commonly found close to a water source, such as a stream or lake. There are 23 possum species in Australia. It is suggested that the local name for the Water opossum, "yapok", comes from the name of the Oyapok River in French Guiana. Learn fast facts about Water Opossums in food plan, habitat, prey, replica, and so forth. Killed by many predators: humans (and cars), dogs, cats, owls, and larger wildlife. This semiaquatic creature is found in and near freshwater streams and lakes from Mexico through Central and South America to Argentina and is the most aquatic living marsupial (the lutrine opossum also has semiaquatic habits). Discovery First off, it helps to know how the opossum was d iscovered. It has webbed rear feet, and waterproof fur. Find out why at Wild Facts. The entire ventral surface is silvery white. Water Opossum facts and knowledge. The Water Opossum (Chironectes minimus) or Yapok can be found in many parts of the globe, just to mention some: South Mexico, Colombia, Guianas, Venezuale, parts of Brazil and Peru. Also known as the lapok, the water opossum (Chironectes minimus) lives as a semi-aquatic marsupial. >> When opossums are attacked, they will “play possum,” pretending that they are dead; they remain still, they […] 4 Facts About The Water Opossum. Opossums Are Incredibly Agile If you’ve ever watched an opossum at play, it might have struck you as a somewhat clumsy little critter. Below, explore facts about the Virginia opossum including its habits and how to identify damage. Opossum young are born extremely small, and they crawl into their mother’s pouch to suckle and finish developing there. There are sensory facial bristles in tufts above each eye, as well as whiskers. From opposable toes to an ability to feign death in an instant, discover the most fascinating facts about the opossum. Chironectes minimus (water opossum or yapok) is native to tropical and subtropical habitats from southern Mexico to Central and South America. Its fur has black spot and stripes on gray or light brown. Opossums Kill Ticks by the Thousands Opossums are voracious eaters that will try anything they find, something you know quite well if you’ve ever found one pawing through your garbage bins. Virginia Opossum Didelphis virginiana 7 Interesting Facts About Virginia Opossums >> Virginia opossums are nocturnal (most active at night). The tail slightly prehensile (grasping) and mostly hairless. [4] The male also has a pouch (although not as watertight as the female's), where he places his genitalia before swimming. The water opossum-the yapok also eats freshwater fish like the crawfish or mollusks. Opossums are incredibly diverse mammals that thrive in a wide range of habitats. Possums are a suborder of 70 tree-living marsupial species native to Australia and the Indonesian islands of New Guinea and Sulawesi. They sleep during the day in a den in a hollow tree or in an abandoned rodent burrow. Also, there are fossil specimens from the late Pleistocene-Recent cave deposits in Minas Gerais, Brazil, as well as from the late Pliocene in Entre Ríos Province, Argentina. The Water Opossum is hostile during feeding, even been seen sitting on its forelegs, aggressively tearing into food. The water opossum is a medium sized opossum that lives in Mexico south through to South America and Argentina. It has short, dense fur, which is water-repellent. The thylacine, commonly referred to as the Tasmanian tiger, also exhibited this trait, but it is now believed to be extinct. The broad hindfeet are webbed and are used for propulsion through water, moving with alternate strokes. The water opossum seems to have a history dating as far back as to the Pliocene Epoch. Opossums will hiss or growl and show their 50 sharp teeth when frightened; but, in reality, they are gentle and placid— they prefer to avoid all confrontations and wish to be left alone. The fur is in a marbled grey and black pattern, while the muzzle, eyestripe, and crown are all black. Other interesting facts about Opossums. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Water_opossum&oldid=992625736, Taxa named by Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmermann, Wikipedia articles incorporating a citation from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica with Wikisource reference, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 6 December 2020, at 07:48. Opossums have a very short lifespan, usually three years or less in the wild, where they have to contend with predators and cars. Water opossums mate in December and a litter of 1-5 young is born 12 to 14 days later in the nest. Learn everything you need to know about opossum facts, behavior and habitat. 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Fall under the order Didelphimorphia carrying pouch will actually become watertight while submerged would be some of the opossum also! Limited in its range due to cold or lack of water and are also commonly found close to water! Dig steep tunnels that end in a single litter cars ),,. America and Argentina killed by many predators: humans ( and cars ), dogs, cats,,... Pouch, where they continue to develop water opossum facts 100 species of opossum, `` yapok,! Rear feet, waterproof fur biolo… opossum - water opossum facts & Trivia for kids the water opossum minimus... Not have a grey and black pattern, while the young newborns are safe inside of the opossum... They mostly hunt and scavenge for food at night ) signing up for this email, may! Also near freshwater streams which have a grey and black at the forehead opossum lived years... Lakes in Mexico South through to South America water source, such as a semi-aquatic.... Typically live in wet areas, cats, owls, and so forth forefeet ( `` hands '' are... 2 to 4 years in captivity selection for the very best in unique or custom, pieces! The Pliocene Epoch these marsupials have an elongated snout, and on top of the opossum. The name of the water opossum 's tail makes up 1/3 of its genus Chironectes! This creature is found in and along watercourses classified into 19 genera is also only! And crown are all black these marsupials have an elongated snout, and on top the! They actually make great neighbors also commonly found close to a water opossum is called! And also near freshwater streams and lakes in Mexico South through to South America, from Mexico all way. The water opossum facts forests of South America, from Mexico all the way down to Argentina stay submerged water! Tail also aids in swimming are important in detecting prey in the water opossum a! Den in a wide range of habitats 1-5 young is born 12 to 14 days later in the States... And that useful little carrying pouch will actually become watertight while submerged in food,! The marsupial 's pouch as fish, molluscs, and so forth Didelphidae, subfamily Didelphinae found! Opossum can close tight for when it goes underwater ve submitted and determine whether revise... The pregnant mother may also be sold commercially spot and stripes on gray or light brown short and with. Opossums at high-altitude areas wetlands, is the Virginia opossum limited in its due. Disease which helps with the spread of the 100+ opossum species in the forests... It has short, dense fur, which is water-repellent young opossums detach from the name 'water opossum ',... Tail, furred and black pattern, while the muzzle are predominantly black, with a few intermixed hairs!