Florida's only marsupial, a mammal having a pouch for carrying the young, is the Virginia opossum. Opossums have grayish-white fur and are about the size of a house cat. They have long naked tails, small naked ears, and a pointed snout.
Opossums prefer woodlands with lots of cover and nearby water. They are also common in urban areas, as they are attracted to almost any type of available food, including garbage, pet food, or cultivated fruits and vegetables.
Opossums are skilled climbers, often seen in trees and on the tops of fences. Females produce at least 2 litters a year. After gestation, the 7 to 11 young crawl into the female’s pouch where they can nurse. At about 80 days, the young leave the pouch and often ride on the mother’s back. Young are weaned at 95 to 100 days and disperse to be on their own shortly afterward.
To prevent attracting opossums, garbage cans should be secured with rubber straps, and pet food should be taken in at night.
You can receive technical assistance for opossum problems by contacting the FWC regional office nearest you.
Image Credit: Karen Parker