What Do Possums Eat?

Why are they referred to as Opossum? What constitutes Possum Diet? How do they Hunt Snakes Easily?

Animals, Facts, Food

Animals of different breeds and species roam our earth. Some are inhabitants of trees while others can survive only in water. Hence, they also differ in their food habits because some are carnivores, others herbivores, some omnivores while the rest are scavengers. Carnivores feed only on flesh, herbivores survive on greens, omnivores eat greens and meat both, and scavengers feed on dead and decaying matter. Today I saw a Possum and wondered what do possums eat? Therefore, to feed my curiosity, let’s discuss what does a possum eat?

1. What are Possums?

Possums are tree-dwelling Marsupials with prehensile tails. Marsupials are mammals that carry their young ones in pouches attached to their belly. They have developed their tail to be prehensile, which means they can use the tail just like their hands. They can hold, throw, catch and swing with it. These mammals are roughly the size of a house cat with a long snout. They are furry animals that are nocturnal and spend most of the day in their nests. Their nests can be a burrow in the tree, an abandoned burrow, or even a pile of leaves. Now let’s look at what does a possum eat! (See 8 Types of Possums)

2. What Do Possums Eat?

Most possums are omnivores, but there are exceptions based on their species. The amount of meat and vegetables included in their diet differs from species to species. 

  • The most common items on their list are insects, dead animals, rodents, birds, plants, frogs, grains, fruits, and eggs.
  • Some uncommon things that they feed on are cat food, dog food, food wasted by humans, and dead skeletons of rodents and animals killed in road accidents.
  • The food depends, usually, on the area where these possums live. For example, a possum living near residential areas will feed on their garden fruits, kitchen waste, etc.

According to research, they eat every possible thing, fulfilling the high requirement of calcium in their body. (See Can Possums be Pets?)

3. Do they Feed on Snakes?

Yes, they regularly eat snakes because the venom of a regular snake poses no threat to them. They are immune to the deadly poison of rattlesnakes and pit vipers. Possums are known to be resistant to most snake venom and thus, this answers the question what do possums eat.

4. Why do they Mark Areas?

It is a natural process followed by possums in which they mark their territory and then make nests. They search for food in these stipulated areas, and if the availability of food is good, then they hardly go farther than 5 hectares. But if the situation is the opposite, and the food supply is scarce, then they can travel four times the usual distance. (See Are Possums Dangerous to Humans?)

5. What is Playing Possum?

Playing possum is a phrase used for the defense technique that possums use while they are in danger. It is a natural instinct that helps them emit the smell of a sick or dead animal. They do this when they feel threatened or when they are harmed.

  • Their anal glands start secreting a foul-smelling liquid that resembles a dead animal.
  • The saliva starts turning into the foam around their mouth, and their teeth turn bare.
  • Their eyes are closed, and their lips are drawn back.

They can remain in this condition for as long as four hours, but, they can return to a normal state within a couple of minutes as well. (See What is the Difference between Possum and Raccoon?)

My curiosity about what do possums eat ends here? What about you?

About the author
Alex Williams is a PhD student in urban studies and planning. He is broadly interested in the historical geographies of capital, the geopolitical economy of urbanization, environmental and imperial history, critical urban theory, and spatial dialectics.

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