Virginia opossum Didelphus virginiana
The Virginia opossum is a mammal.
Some individuals are close to black, while others may be more gray, white or brown. The face has white fur and a long, pointed pink nose. Its ears are black and without hairs. The tail is round. This prehensile tail is flexible and can be used to wrap around or grasp objects. The opossum also has an opposable toe on each hind foot. It is the innermost toe, and it is clawless. This special digit has a range of movement much like your thumb, and allows for this foot to assist in many tasks, like climbing.
The head-body length is 15 inches to 24 inches. The tail is nine inches to 20 inches long. The male Virginia opossum is larger than the female.
This mammal is common statewide in Illinois. It lives in woodlands, along streams, in brushy areas, cities and farms. Its home is a den that may be placed in a former woodchuck or skunk burrow, hollow log or tree, brush pile or under or inside a building.
It will eat plant products (fruits, grains, seeds) and animals/animal products (insects, birds, eggs, reptiles, worms). It will also eat other materials that it finds as it searches for food, such as garbage, pet food and animals that have been killed on roads by vehicles.
Breeding occurs from late January into February. They usually mate a second time in May. The average litter size is eight. The young are born very immature. The entire litter would fit easily in a teaspoon. After birth, the young crawl to their mother's pouch where they continue to develop. They leave the pouch two to three months later.
Many opossums are killed by vehicles on roads, and those are often eaten by turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) and other scavengers. Opossums are also caught and eaten by dogs, coyotes (Canis latrans), great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), foxes, raccoons (Procyon lotor), bobcats (Lynx rufus) and American minks (Neovison vison).
The Virginia opossum has more teeth (50) than any other land mammal.