Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Opossum


Opossum, originally uploaded by Hannibals Animals.

The Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), commonly known as the North American Opossum, is the only marsupial found in North America north of the Rio Grande.
The Virginia Opossum is noted for its reaction to threats, which is to feign death. This is the genesis of the term "playing possum", which is used to describe an attempt to pretend to be dead or injured with intent to deceive. In the case of the opossum, the reaction seems to be quite involuntary, and to be triggered by extreme fear. It should not be taken as an indication of docility, for under serious threat, an opossum will respond ferociously, hissing, screeching, and showing its teeth. But with enough stimulation, the opossum will enter a near coma, which can last up to four hours. It lies on its side, mouth and eyes open, tongue hanging out, emitting both a green fluid from its anus and an odor putrid to most predators. Besides discouraging animals who eat live prey, playing possum also convinces some large animals that the opossum is no threat to their young.

7 comments:

Chris said...

Hi,
What a nice picture of it you got. And thanks for the nice explanation! A beautiful post!

Montanagirl said...

Nice picture! I had no idea about any of the info you posted. How interesting. I love your blog - have learned so much from it.

Bird Girl said...

I'm glad the opossum decided to look your way this time - you captured an excellent pose and lots of interesting info.

Rick Kratzke said...

Nice picture, they can be so mean and nasty, I remember that from the farm.

Leeloo said...

Thanks for all the info, I didn't know any of this! I didn't even know we had them around here, I thought they were only found in Australia. Also great picture :)

Bill Benish said...

In my opinion, the opossum is a highly underrated animal. Great photo!

Willard said...

Amazing sharpness and detail.