Some Belated Praise for Opossums

Updated on July 18, 2019
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Kenneth does have a passive attitude toward certain issues in life, but NOT with Sexual Harassment and Bullying. I cannot let these areas go

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello  to the cute possum.
Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the cute possum. | Source

Why Do People Fear Opossums?

You need to know that opossums, also known as possums, are marsupial mammals of the order Didelphimorphia. The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 103 or more species in 19 genera. Opossums originated in South America and entered North America in the Great American Interchange following the connection of the two continents. Their non-specialized biology, flexible diet, and reproductive habits make them successful colonizers and survivors in diverse locations and conditions.

I had to include the scientific view of possums in order to please the scientifically-minded members of the free-hearted citizens of America. You might say that I am an all-around, diplomatic writer to the bone and proud of it. Hey, I will even go on record right now in stating that I do not know of anyone who loves possums more than myself.

Oh, sure. There are "those" in our land who do not approve of the lowly possum. For those individuals, I feel compassionate toward them. To their possum indifference, I say, give these little guys a fair shake. Live and let live. We could all take a lesson from the possum—for they will only defend themselves if we, the members of mankind choose to provoke the possum for any given reason. People who would provoke a humble possum for no reason needs some form of sensitivity training.

Do not let a possum's cute face  fool you. If they are provoked  they will bite you.
Do not let a possum's cute face fool you. If they are provoked they will bite you. | Source

Are Opossums Not as Lovable as Other Species?

Many sane-minded Americans are guilty of finding opossums repulsive, or disgusting—down-right outcasts of the animal kingdom. Why, I do not know. But this I do know: possums, as I call them, are as cute as any fawn born to a lovely doe in the forest. I said it and stand by it. I love opossums and I hope that by publishing this article, those same people I said were treating opossums with such disrespect will have a change of heart.

I am serious. Why do we love one animal and despise another? If you want a dose of harsh truth, I would call this a bit of animal bigotry. What else would you call it? Pretty much the way that we treat those souls of another color or national origin. But the rub is, we will attend anti-bigotry rallies, raise monies to fight racial bigotry, but when it comes to animal bigotry, we turn a deaf ear and close a blinded eye.

This is not right by any standard. Opossums have as much right to live a fulfilled life as any of us who walk around on two legs and call ourselves the Top of The Food Chain. Yeah. That makes us proud enough to justify our dislike for the lowly opossum.

Possum foraging for food.
Possum foraging for food. | Source

Great Names for Opossums

Rory, Rowdy, Randy, Paul or Paulette depending on the gender, Perry, Prince, Duke.
Dawson, Pecos Possum (if you live in or near Sante Fe, New Mexico). And to those diehard Americans, "Bill" makes a great name for possums.

A few Facts About Opossums

  • Opossums when treated with respect will go about their business and not be of any harm to you or your property.
  • Opossums cannot help the way that God created them no more than we can help the way that we look, so this should put a damper on our cold hearted feelings about opossums.
  • Paul Henning, the gifted producer of The Beverly Hillbillies, helped Irene "Granny" Clampett to make the humble opossum famous in its own right. Bravo, Paul Henning!
  • Opossums can and will defend themselves if we foolish humans provoke them and their bites, I am told, can be quite painful.
  • Opossums are far from ignorant. An opossum being chased by hunting dogs will many times drop to the ground and play dead confusing the dogs and when the dogs have grown weary of barking at the "dead" possum, they will give up the chase and leave the intelligent opossum be.
  • Opossums can be raised with the same love and care that is given to the common housecat or dog. In short, opossums do have feelings.
  • I am reluctant about sharing this fact with you. In our country's pioneer days, many people would hunt the opossum and have him for their dinner and not in the context of "dinner guest."

Opossums by nature are shy creatures.
Opossums by nature are shy creatures. | Source

FAQs About Opossums

Q: Is it true that opossums love to eat persimmons?

A: True. But only after the first frost of the season hits the persimmons turning them from a bitter fruit to a super-sweet delicacy.

Q: Is it recommended to put a leash on your pet possum to take him for a walk?

A: Don't be ridiculous. Opossums are not easily trained into being lap possums, so trying to attach a leash to their necks would only be asking for problems for you, not the opossum.

Q: Is it a problem to give your opossum a weekly bath?

A: I would not recommend bathing your opossum on a weekly basis unless you have known the opossum for at least five years. Opossums have a sharp sense of morality.


The opossum like a cute bunny rabbit deserves to lead a happy live pursuing what opossums pursue mostly at night. I for one am proud to stand up and advertise my support for the rights of opossums everywhere.

So the next time you cross paths with an opossum, smile and say, "Hello, Mr. Opossum, I hope that you have a safe and happy day."

Couldn't hurt.

Good night, Columbia, S.C.

Opossums are hard  to beat when it comes to being cute.
Opossums are hard to beat when it comes to being cute. | Source

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • I love opossums as much as my ferrets of which I’ve had many since 1980. Do you have any advice for keeping one as a pet? I know they can be dangerous and have razor-sharp teeth.

    No. Possums are outdoor animals. When they are babies, you might have them for a while, but they are very dangerous.

© 2017 Kenneth Avery


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    • profile image

      Ken Avery 

      4 months ago

      Hi, Claudus - - -hey, what a great response/comment to this hub. I really men that. Your comment could easily pass as a definition of possums in a dictionary.

      I had no idea, seriously, that there was that much info about one of my favorite ngiht-time friends.

      You enjoy a night or day or peace and write me often.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      As a rehabber let me thank-you for advocating love & tolerance for North America's only marsupial! I work with bats, possums & raccoons; opies are my first love & what got me started. People say they hate them because they look like rats, or they're mean - they're actually very docile & prefer to run from a fight. Nature didn't equip them for offense: there 'claws' are spatulate for digging not sharp for fighting. The teeth, the most of any NA mammal are used for crushing/chewing bones of RK etc. and.. display. When stressed they'll show them, drool & hiss, but won't strike unless forced, & usually only against another opossum. Confronted by other animals (including my cats) they'll automatically drop into an involuntary catatonic state, tongue out, slowed breathing/heart rate & often defecating/emitting a foul greenish liquid from their anal glands - this is a defensive mechanism given to them for survival since they're not good fighters. They can stay like that for up to 6 hrs but normally it's an hour or less, so don't assume they're dead, unless there's blood. If you find one that is dead, check the pouch for babies who will be latched onto a teet inside & take them along with mama to a wildlife rehabilitator. Opossums are nature's silent little garbage men who keep our neighborhoods clean for us. Although they will eat almost anything including garbage, RK, fruit/berries, small prey like mice & reptiles, bugs, (pretty much anything they can get in their mouths) - the babies require precise nutrition until release otherwise they'll suffer from Metabolic Bone Syndrome. A painful & crippling condition which usually only shows up when grown & afflicts many 'pet' opies because they're fed improper diets of only dog/cat food - so please don't 'rescue' a baby feed it improperly then release it. They're solitary animals only coming together for mating & only the mothers raise the young. The babies when old enough leave the pouch & ride cling to her back until they get to big & drop off to fend for themselves. If startled & the young fall off, the mother won't return for them, so take them to a rehabber. Opies can't actually hang from their prehensile tails, but use them to carry leaves & such to build their 'nest'. They don't hibernate but do slow down during the coldest months & often get frostbite on their ears & tail tips. They are wonderful non aggressive animals who perform a huge service to all of us without people even realising it, yet everyone hates on them - help educate others about the awesome opossum!

    • profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      15 months ago

      Kenna -- "R.K." is an accepted saying in these days, but Road Kll is instantly recognized when it is into text or conversation. Thanks for the input and you are right. I omitted the R.K. in my hub and for this, I am deeply sorry. I appreciate you sharing the R.K. part of the lives on the road who give of themselves in order for a weaker life to make it over the highway.

      Write soon . . .!

    • profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      15 months ago

      Mr. Happy --- of course I am interested in the things you are talking about--and I do emphasize Interested in the off-the-wall (e.g. the Tale of The Two Headed Crocodile) or the Tale of the Lady who Was Married to Identical Twins, etc.

      It is these things that make life spicy and less mundane.

      Mr. Happy, you are a blessing.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      15 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Not sure if You read other people's stuff here but if You do: " I open the door to my imagination and Mickey Mouse ears float by, M-I-C-K-E-Y, followed by the shake of a lamb’s tail, the fender of a ’59 Edsel, cotton candy at the Western Washington State Fair, circa 1962, and a fly ball, forever uncatchable, settling in the far reaches of center field."

      That's an excerpt from Mr. Bill's piece of writing titled: " Reflections on Life While Doing Nothing"

      Wish You're well! Cheers! : )

    • Kenna McHugh profile image

      Kenna McHugh 

      15 months ago from Northern California

      One name you left out is "Road Kill." I played a possum in a play called Peter Rabbit based on Beatrix series. Though she never wrote a possum in her stories, the author, and director of the play did. I was fortunate to play the animal. I have deep respect for possums - they are one of the longest living mammals on the planet. It was one of the most interesting characters I ever played on stage. Of course, we didn't call my character "Road Kill" since it was a production for children. We called her "R.K."

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      15 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      "Why do we love one animal and despise another?" - I honestly like them all. Even the fox that stole my bag of Doridos chips, or the bear that set-off my alarm on the car and came sniffing around my tent in the middle of the night. The neighbours dog at the cottage, who is terribly misbehaved due to his terribly misbehaved owner, even for him I got Love and we got in a couple of "incidents" already, him and I.

      "In our country's pioneer days, many people would hunt the opossum and have him for their dinner" - To be honest, that was my second thought, after "cute": "probably taste good too - looks lean".

      I know nothing about possums though. We don;t have possums in Canada, or Romania. We have raqoons and skunks. I drove past one (a skunk) that was splashed on the road earlier today. Ohh ... did that ever reak! And I was going a good forty miles an hour, steered the wheels around him, not to get any of that skunk pee on my tires ... Still, it was like going through tear gas on a battlefield. Held my breath and everything!

      So, since I know nothing about possums, why do people not like them? Do they taste bad? Haha, just kiddin' : )

      I missed this hub and I was supposed to read it. Better late than never they say!


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dearest Sakina :)

      So glad to hear from you about possums. They are quite cute, but they need respected and given to their space of if we provoke them, they bite very hard.

      I too need to learn more about these wily creatures.

      Thanks for the sweet comment.

    • SakinaNasir53 profile image

      Sakina Nasir 

      2 years ago from Kuwait

      This hub is amazingly written Kenneth, my dear friend. I never knew about opposums and this is the first time I'm seeing one. Thanks for sharing this beautiful hub with us. I got to learn so many things from this. :)

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, MizBejabbers,

      I am very thought that you sent me such a cute comment about opossums.

      Oh, the growl and hiss if you provoke the opossums, they will attack with those sharp teeth.

      But sometimes they will lay still and act dead when several dogs get to barking.

      Opossums are quite intelligent.

      Thanks for your comment.

      And please keep me close to you.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Kylyssa Shay,

      Opossums are very nice, cute and independent.

      I know that they need a lot of space to forage to food to

      eat as all critters.

      But keep a humble thought when it comes to possums.

      Keep me to close when you writing.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, craftybegonia,

      I love your comments.

      I really do. I never thought so many opossums loved so many critters.

      I feel great when I know that so many opossums are quite the cute little marsupial.

      Please keep me in close when you write.

    • craftybegonia profile image


      2 years ago from Southwestern, United States

      I am in the personal "know" of any possum, I have only "met" them in photos, but they look like cute little critters that would make interesting pets, but my fear are those teeth of them, the thought of being me cautious pause, but they are cute nonetheless. I will stick with cats and dogs for now. Thank you for sharing and making the rest of us more informed about them.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago from Beautiful South

      Well done, I love possums, too, although my dad did not recommend having one as a pet. He had a pet possum, Sammy, and said that it was unpredictable and would bite. I don't know how many times daddy would awaken me in the morning with "are you asleep or are you playin' possum?" Around our house we did not eat possum, coon or groundhog.

      Living on the edge of the woods, we used to leave food out for the squirrels, and we had our favorite young possum that would come eat his share. On a cold New Year's night with neighborhood fireworks popping and booming, our outdoor sensor light came on. We looked out and it was our little friend who had brought his new mate with him to sanctuary. They huddled on the deck for a couple of hours until the fireworks subsided, and then he led her away. He still came back a few times , but she never came again. Finally he stopped coming, I guess with newly found duties of raising a family.

      I find it unusual that cats and possums get along. My friends cat got into a fight with a possum on their screened in porch and had to be rescued by us. I believe the possum would have killed him. Here the cats and coons run together, but I'm not familiar with possums and cats as friends.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 

      2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      I had a lovely lap possum named Xhi (pronounced "Chee") that I found as a wee tiny baby in her dead mother's pouch on the roadside. I thought possums were dirty and nasty until she changed my beliefs with ridiculously cuddly snuggles with me and my beloved black cat. She didn't glare at me for days afterward if I did have to give her a bath like he did, either.

      Oh, she was naughty, but not nearly as naughty as my cats or dogs and all her naughtiness involved food someone had done something silly with. She was also so incredibly clean and fluffy, aside from some incidents involving things like a blender full of virgin strawberry daiquiri left unattended at a party and a jar of honey my roommate left the lid off one breakfast.

      Animals behave according to their nature. Humans can choose to do better.


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