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What Is A Baby Possum And 4 More Amazing Facts!

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From natural immunity to Spider-Man-like qualities, baby possums are very unique creatures, and they're surprisingly small too. Despite their small size, they are very powerful.

Let's jump into 5 cool facts and cute pictures all centered around baby possums!

#1: Baby possums are called Joeys!

possum baby family
Baby possums are called joeys.

©Evelyn D. Harrison/Shutterstock.com

The little opossum is called Joey! All species of marsupials have young called "kangaroos," and opossums are no exception. In case you were wondering, small marsupials are called "joeys" because it sounds like "little guy" in the Aboriginal language.

Adult males are called jacks and adult females are called jills. A group of small opossums is called a passel. Opossums share their baby names with kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and wombats.

#2: Joey the possum is a "night owl"

possum baby hanging out
Possum joeys are nocturnal animals.

© Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com

Possum babies are near the bottom of the food chain, which means they have plenty of predators in the wild. So they have to get creative when it comes to protecting themselves from predators. One of the main evolutionary traits that help opossums survive in the area exists at the time of day when they are most active.

Baby opossums are nocturnal, which means they spend most of their waking hours at night. Their extremely poor eyesight means they must rely on their senses of hearing and smell to survive. Despite their weaknesses, possum pups are incredibly adaptable and can quickly learn from their mothers how to survive and reproduce in the wild.

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#3: Baby possums play dead

Possum baby surprised
Possums instinctively play dead and cannot control when they freeze.

© Tim Harman/Shutterstock.com

In the wild, possums are usually prey rather than predators. Because of this, they have evolved the trick of playing dead. This defense mechanism provides an ingenious way for possums to stay safe from contact with predators, which could end in death.

So what does a possum look like when it's playing dead? They fell, stiffened, and motionless. Many people think this is a voluntary act, but it is quite the opposite. When a possum is under extreme stress, it can pass out or faint. It has absolutely no control over when this happens.

While possums can't do this trick on command, it certainly has its benefits. Playing dead prevents interactions that could result in the animal's death. Because the behavior is involuntary, kangaroos don't need to rely on their decisions to protect themselves. Instead, their bodies are wired to protect them at the first sign of danger. It's like a built-in safety system that never fails – pretty cool, right?

#4: Baby possum rides on mom

Possum pups ride on their mother's back for protection after emerging from their pouches.

© Indra Gallery/Shutterstock.com

For the first three months of life, opossums remain in their mother's pouch. This allows them to be protected and cared for at the same time. Three months later, they came out to explore. However, they still often ride on mom's neck and back. A mother opossum can carry up to 15 babies on her neck, back and body – talk about dedication!

#5: Possum Joey Immune to Venom

baby opossum in autumn
Possum babies are immune to snake venom.

©David Louis Econopouly/Shutterstock.com

Did you know that poison doesn't harm possums? This is because opossums produce a special protein similar to antivenom. Possum blood has proteins that neutralize venom and have been used since the 1940s to help develop antivenoms.

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But why do opossums need antivenom? The answer is simple – protect them from their main predator: snakes. If bitten, they suffer a slight bite, but the venom does not harm possums. Small opossums are also immune to the venom of scorpions, bees, and many other venomous animals.


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baby possum newborn

© Indra Gallery/Shutterstock.com

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How much do baby possums weigh?

When baby opossums are born, they are as small as a bee and weigh about 0.10 to 0.15 grams. By the time they're 3 months old, they've gained almost 150 grams, which is still tiny, less than a pound. Adult possums weigh 5-15 pounds including their tails.

What do baby possums eat?

They rely on nursing until they are strong enough to explore the outside of the pouch. Once out of the pouch, the baby possum will eat anything it encounters, including bugs, fruit, and even trash!

Are possums mammals?

Baby possums are marsupials, a type of mammal. In fact, they are the only marsupials found in North America. Marsupials do not have a placenta, so there is a pouch in which the young live for the first three months or so after birth. During these three months, the baby opossum drinks its mother's marsupial milk, which is quite different from that of other mammals.

Where do baby possums live?

Possums like to live in places with some moisture, such as streams and swamps. While they aren't very picky about where their home is, they do enjoy hanging out in trees and eating bugs. They like to burrow so they can slow down and stay warm in the winter, but they don't hibernate.

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