Common Opossum walking in Florida wilderness
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How Long Do Possums Live?

Opossums have made their home throughout North America and some places throughout Central America. They like to explore different habitats and surprise us with their ability to adapt. But this begs one question – how long do these amazing animals stick around for?

Let’s examine both wild and captive possums’ lifespans as well as ways we can help them thrive!

Key Pest Points

A lifespan of a possum in the wild is around 1-2 years, while in captivity, it can live up to 4 years. 

• Their habitat, diet, and predators can influence their life expectancy.

• To help possums live a longer, healthier life, keep pet possums in safe environments, avoid feeding them human food, and keep their environment free of predators.

Opossum Lifespan in the Wild 

The average possum can live 1-2 years in the wild. This is mainly due to predation, injury, and malnutrition. It’s not uncommon for a possum to be killed by a predator or suffer a severe injury such as an infection or broken limb. This can lead to death or slow down its growth.

Lifespan of Opossum in Captivity

Possums kept in captivity tend to live longer than their wild counterparts. Most will live for 3-4 years. This is due to better access to food and a safer environment. Owners must still ensure their possums have access to a balanced diet and adequate shelter.

Opossum Life Cycle

As with most mammals, the average possum’s lifespan is a fascinating factor of nature. Here are the specifics:

Mating Habits and Health

A possum’s mating habits significantly affect the average life span. During the months of January and July, they breed – often producing a litter ranging from 1-13 kits. As with most mammals, its lifespan will be longer when a possum is healthy. Wild and feral possums are more likely to suffer from injury, malnutrition, or predation than their captive cousins.

Mother opossum carrying her babies

Baby Opossums or Joeys

These little possums, called joeys, are born blind, hairless, and lacking fully developed back limbs at birth. Joeys start life by staying in their mother’s pouch, where they stay for 7-10 weeks before riding on her back for up to 4 weeks until they become entirely independent.

Adolescence and Maturity

Possums reach sexual maturity within a year. They will look for a mate shortly afterward, and the cycle begins again. They are fascinating creatures that can adapt to many environments.

Factors that Impact an Opossums Lifespan

As with many other animals, a few factors shape the life of an opossum. These include:

Diet

Possums that live in the wild will typically eat various fruits, seeds, and insects, while their captive counterparts may also be fed fresh vegetables, grains, and nuts. As omnivores, they will forage for fruits, leaves, and insects and scavenge our garbage.

Habitat

These nocturnal animals can make homes almost anywhere – from tall trees to abandoned buildings. In the wild, they will find dens in hollow logs and other safe places to sleep during the day. In captivity, they are sometimes kept in cages or aviaries, which can limit their movements and access to food.

Predators

Predators are one of the most serious risks these fascinating creatures face. Wild possums have to watch out for coyotes, owls, and foxes. Meanwhile, their captive counterparts must beware of cats or dogs looking for an easy snack.

Disease

Another factor that can impact an opossum’s lifespan is disease. While possums do not typically carry rabies, they can suffer from other illnesses such as mange and leptospirosis. They can also carry mites, fleas, and ticks that can spread to humans or other animals.

These are just some factors that can affect a possum’s lifespan. With careful management, however, possums can live longer in captivity than in the wild. As we’ve seen, diet, habitat, predators, and disease can greatly impact their lifespans. We must do our part to ensure that these animals get the best chance of living long and healthy lives.

A lone possum scavenging for food in the back yard.

How to Prevent Possums from Entering Your Home

If you have wild possums in your area, protecting your home and family is important. Here are a few tips:

• Make sure all windows and doors are tightly closed when not in use.

• Check the outside of your house for possible entry points a possum could use.

• Purchase and Install motion-activated lights or other deterrents to keep the animals away from your property.

• Ensure that any garbage cans are secure and inaccessible to wild animals.

• Use Tabasco Sauce, garlic, or other strong scents to repel possums from your property.

• Don’t feed wild possums – this will only encourage them to stay in the area.

• Set a humane possum trap that will allow you to relocate the animal safely.

• Contact a professional wildlife control specialist if the problem persists.

Following these tips, you can help prevent possums from entering your home and destroying your property. And remember, if you do detect wild animals in or around your property, it’s important to contact a professional wildlife service that will safely remove the animal.

FAQs

Why do possums only live for 2 to 3 years?

In the wild, possums are exposed to numerous hazards, including predators and disease. This shortens their life span significantly. In captivity, however, they can live longer than three years with a proper diet and habitat.

How long do opossums live as a pet?

Possums can be kept as pets. However, they do require special care and housing. A possum can live up to 4 years in captivity with proper care. We recommend keeping these animals in the wild as they may not do well in a domestic environment.

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