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Possums are small marsupials with thick, bushy tails, thick body fur, and a pointed snout and ears. The most common brushtail possum was first introduced to New Zealand and Australia for the fur trade.
See the fact file below for more information on the possums or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Possum worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Habitat, Anatomy, and Life Cycle
- Common Name: Possum
- Scientific Name: Didelphimorphia
- Type: Mammals
- Diet: Omnivores
- Group Name: Passel
- Average Size: 15 to 20 inches
- Average Weight: 4 to 12 lbs
- Maximum Lifespan in the Wild: 5 to 8 years
- Gestation Period: 14 to 17 days
- Habitat: Forests in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Sulawesi, New Zealand, and China
- There are two common species of possum: the common brushtail and the ringtail possum. Both are found in the forests and woodlands of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Sulawesi in Indonesia, and China.
- Possums live in an environment with abundant food supply and shelter. Dense populations are found in forests and woodlands.
- They are most active at night, meaning they’re nocturnal, and prefer to stay on tree branches. Using their prehensile tail for extra balance, possums can walk, jump, and move around tree branches easily. They are also good swimmers.
- Possums are called opossums in the grasslands and forests of North and South America, but differ in several characteristics.
- Possums are omnivores, meaning they both eat plants and animals. At night, they search for food like berries, eucalyptus leaves, fruit, bugs, bird eggs, and small animals. At times, possums are scavengers, eating food leftover from other animals and even people.
- They are marsupials, meaning the mother carries her babies in a pouch, like kangaroos.
- There are 23 possum species found in Australia. The largest is the cuscus, while the most common are the brushtail and ringtail possums.
- Female possums are called jills, males jacks, and young are called joeys. A group of possums is known as a passel.
- Possums have large rounded ears, sensory whiskers, a pink nose, five clawed toes with two that are opposable, and a long prehensile tail. They have four fangs for grasping and 50 teeth for crushing food.
- Joeys are usually born between May and June. For 5 months, they feed and grow inside their mother’s pouch. A joey spends another 2 months clinging to its mother’s back.
- A jill usually gives birth to 5 to 10 young, but only one or two are likely to survive. Males do not contribute to looking after the young.
- At 7 months old, joeys are independent of their mothers and are considered fully grown at 10 months. Jills usually reach sexual maturity at the age of 12 months.
- Possums tend to live solitary lives, except during breeding season. They prefer to live in their home ranges marked by their own scent. In order to mark territories, possums release scent from their glands on their chest onto tree branches.
- During mating season, males attract females by making a particular sound.
- Like house cats, they love grooming and sleeping.
- There are rare attacks of adult to adult possums, but adult to juvenile possum conflict often occurs when territories are at risk.
- Their sense of sight and hearing are not well developed, but their sense of smell is extremely good.
- Compared to rats, cats, and even dogs, possums have a good memory, particularly for finding food. Moreover, they can get through a maze more easily than rats and cats.
- In times of danger, possums can growl, belch, and urinate to protect themselves. Where these fail to work, they play dead by rolling over, become stiff, bare their teeth, and secrete a foul-smelling odor. Such a defense mechanism can last up to four hours.
- Ringtail possums are known for their ability to secrete a sticky liquid from the anal glands in times of danger. In addition, all species of possums have distinct sounds to identify the arrival of a predator.
- Compared to other species of possums, ringtail possums prefer to live in large families usually consisting of female possums and their young.
Possums in Urban Areas
- There are places in Australia and New Zealand where possums are found in urban areas. Despite pest patrolling, possums still frequent homes, and this is not good.
- They are considered harmful to plantations and house roofs. Moreover, possums can transmit diseases to people when they come into contact with human skin.
- Most of the time, possums in urban communities stay in areas with little to no light, including attics, sheds, and garages.
- To detect whether possums are living in your house, look for burrows and holes. They may also feed on pet food.
- In order to get rid of possums, one can do the following:
- Clear the house or yard of any fallen leaves, unused items, and garbage that might attract them.
- Regularly trim bushes and build fences or traps to keep them away from your lawn.
- Since they are good climbers, repair all kinds of cracks in your home where possums can enter or breed.
Dangers to Possums
- Due to possums’ unique meat, skin, and fur, they are widely hunted in several parts of the world. Their fur is used to make scarves and wall decor.
- Among their natural predators are wild hounds, owls, snakes, and hawks.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about possums across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Possum worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the possums which are small marsupials with thick, bushy tails, thick body fur, and a pointed snout and ears. The most common brushtail possum was first introduced to New Zealand and Australia for the fur trade.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Possum Facts
- Possum Cards
- Possum World
- Mapping Possum
- Magic Possum
- Fact or Bluff
- Possum in New Zealand
- Compare and Contrast
- My Home, My Place
- Pest-Free New Zealand
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Link will appear as Possum Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 24, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.