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How Big Is A Possum?

How Big Is A Possum?

By Mildred T Koerner on May 16, 2023

If you're a wildlife enthusiast, then you've probably gazed upon the curious and often misunderstood creature known as the possum.

These small marsupials are native to North America, Australia, and New Guinea, where they can be found scampering about in search of food or shelter.

But just how big is a possum?

This is a question that many people have asked themselves at one point or another, and it's one that we'll be exploring today.

Possums come in all shapes and sizes, with some species being larger than others.

The Virginia opossum, for example, which is the only possum species found in North America, typically weighs between 6-15 pounds and measures around 32 inches from nose to tail.

On the other hand, the common brushtail possum found in Australia can weigh up to 4 kg (8.8 lbs) and measure up to 55 cm (21.7 inches) long without counting its bushy tail!

So whether you're interested in learning more about these fascinating creatures or simply want to expand your knowledge of wildlife trivia, read on to discover just how big a possum really is!

Types Of Possums And Their Sizes

Possums are a diverse group of marsupials found in various regions across the world.

In North America, the Virginia opossum is perhaps the most well-known species due to its widespread presence and unique physical characteristics.

However, there are over 100 different types of possums that exist globally, each with its own distinct features.

The size of a possum can vary significantly depending on which species you are referring to.

For example, the smallest known possum is the Tasmanian pygmy possum, which only measures around four inches long and weighs less than half an ounce.

On the other hand, some larger possums like the common brushtail possum can grow up to two feet in length and weigh over six pounds.

Despite these variations in size, one thing remains constant: all possums share a similar omnivorous diet and prefer habitats that offer plenty of trees for climbing and shelter.

As we delve deeper into understanding possum anatomy and measurements, let's first take a closer look at the Virginia opossum - a fascinating creature with numerous quirks that make it stand out from other members of its family.

The Virginia Opossum: Anatomy And Measurements

As we explored earlier, possums come in various sizes depending on their species.

One might say that the range of possum sizes is like a delicate balance beam, with each species occupying its own unique spot along the spectrum.

While some are small and agile enough to fit through tight spaces, others are larger and more robust.

But it's not just size that sets these creatures apart from one another. Opossum behavior and diet also vary between species.

For example, pygmy possums have been known to eat nectar and pollen from flowers while brushtail possums prefer a more omnivorous diet including fruits, leaves, insects, and even small vertebrates such as birds or reptiles.

The way they navigate their environment also differs - while some may be arboreal climbers like gliders or ringtails, others may spend most of their time foraging on the ground like Virginia opossums.

The brushtail possum: a larger species with an impressive tail measuring up to 35cm long!

This iconic Australian marsupial has adapted well to urban environments due to its ability to thrive on a wide variety of food sources- including garbage bins!

Their nocturnal habits often bring them into close proximity with humans which can sometimes lead to conflict but they remain beloved by many Australians who appreciate their quirky personalities and distinctive vocalizations.

The Brushtail Possum: A Larger Species

While possums are generally small, there is one species that stands out for its size - the Brushtail Possum.

This nocturnal marsupial can grow up to 55 centimeters long and weigh as much as 4 kilograms.

Its bushy tail makes up half of its total length, and it uses this appendage for balance when climbing trees.

Brushtail Possums have a wide habitat range, spanning from Australia to New Zealand.

They are known for their adaptability and can thrive in both urban and rural environments.

Their behavior varies depending on where they live; those in cities tend to be more active at night while those living in forests are often seen during the day.

These possums primarily eat leaves, fruit, and flowers but will also consume insects and birds' eggs if food sources are scarce.

As fascinating as these creatures may be, other factors affect possum size beyond just species type.

Other Factors That Affect Possum Size

Possums may not be the largest creatures in the animal kingdom, but they are fascinating nonetheless.

While possum size is primarily determined by genetics, other factors can impact their growth and development.

One of these factors is diet. Possums are omnivores, meaning they eat a variety of foods such as fruits, insects, small animals, and even carrion.

The availability of food sources can greatly impact a possum's growth rate and overall size.

In areas where there is an abundance of food, possums tend to be larger than those living in areas with scarce resources.

Additionally, habitat plays a role in determining possum size.

Possums that live in denser forests or have access to more shelter tend to grow larger due to increased protection from predators and harsh weather conditions.

Interesting Facts About Possums

Now that we know the various factors affecting possum size, let's take a closer look at their behavior and diet preferences.

Possums are largely nocturnal creatures and prefer to roam around during the night in search of food.

They are opportunistic feeders and have a diverse palate ranging from fruits, insects, small animals, carrion, and even garbage.

However, they mainly survive on plant matter such as leaves, buds, flowers, and nectar.

Interestingly, possums have a unique adaptation in their digestive system known as 'caecotrophy.'

This means that when they eat certain foods that cannot be easily digested by their stomach acids, they excrete them out of their body in the form of soft pellets which they then re-ingest to extract all possible nutrients.

Additionally, possums tend to hoard food for later consumption by storing it in tree hollows or underground burrows.

These behaviors help ensure their survival in harsh conditions where food is scarce.


So, how big is a possum?

Well, as we've seen, it depends on the species.

The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial in North America and measures around 13 inches from nose to tail when fully grown.

Meanwhile, the Brushtail possum of Australia can grow up to 22 inches in length.

But size isn't everything when it comes to these fascinating creatures.

Possums have adapted to thrive in various environments across the globe and are important members of their local ecosystems.

So next time you spot one scurrying along your fence or climbing a tree, take a moment to appreciate just how perfectly suited they are for their niche.

Possums may not be the biggest animals out there, but they certainly make an impact!



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