Close up of an Australian Brushtail possum (trichosurus vulpecula) eating fruit in a Sydney backyard
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What Do Possums Eat?

While opossums may look like rats from a distance, this furry creature comes from a different animal family called marsupials. What makes them unique is their amazing ability to eat both plants and animals- making these critters true omnivores.

Possums may seem picky, but they have a wide and varied diet. They’ll enjoy fruits, veggies, nuts, and even small animals like insects. And if that’s not enough to appeal to their appetite – opossums are also known for scavenging through garbage piles or feasting on dead animals in the wild.

Let’s look at some fun facts about possums, how they find their food, and how their environments affect their diets.

Key Pest Points:

•  Opossums are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals.

•  An opossum diet can include fruits, vegetables, nuts, insects, and even small animals like mice or worms.

•  Possums have been known to scavenge through garbage and consume carrion or dead animals found in the wild.

Overview of Possums

Possums have been around for an impressive 65 million years, making them one of the longest-surviving marsupial species. These critters are unique because they possess several special qualities that help them thrive in different ecosystems.

Physical Characteristics

Virginia possums are usually gray and have white faces, while common brushtail possums are typically gray, brown or golden in color. They have long, pointed snouts, prominent black eyes, sharp claws, and a prehensile tail for gripping objects. Possums also have 50 teeth which are specially adapted for their omnivorous diet.

Close up of common Brushtail Possum in a tree

Behavior

Possums are nocturnal, so they come out at night to look for food. They are good climbers and use their sharp claws to climb trees and explore new habitats. These interesting creatures also have the unique ability to “play possum,” a defense strategy in which they can completely shut down their body, becoming immobile and seemingly dead when faced with danger.

Habitat

Possums are some of the most widespread marsupials, found in many temperate habitats. They usually hang around woods and fields, but you might spot them lurking in your backyard too. They’re so clever that they often take over burrows built by other animals, such as rabbits or foxes, making it their home.

What Do Opossums Eat in the Wild?

These scavengers are not picky eaters. They will feed on almost anything-from fruits and vegetables to insects, small birds, and even small animals. In the wild, possums often munch on:

  • Grains
  • Fruits
  • Insects
  • Small animals
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Birds

They may also scavenge through garbage or pet food left outside for snacks. Possums have also been known to eat carrion or dead animals found on the roadside or in the wild.

How Do Possums Find Food in Suburban Areas?

In suburban areas, these creatures often come out at night to scavenge through garbage cans and gardens, looking for possum food. They may also go into backyards in search of pet food or other snacks that have been left outside. It is important to note that possums can also get into chicken coops and eat the eggs or chickens, so it is best to keep food sources secure.

What Do Baby Possums Eat?

Baby possums, or joeys, are born after only 12-13 days of gestation and spend their first months in the mother’s pouch. During this time, they feed off special milk secreted by the mother and gain nourishment for growth and development. Once the joey is old enough to venture outside the pouch, it will start eating the same foods as an adult possum, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and insects.

What Possums Eat in the WildWhat Do Opossums Like to Eat in the Wild?What Do Baby Possums Eat?
Grains Garbage Mothers Milk 
InsectsBird feeders Water
Small animals Vegetable from gardens 
Carrion (dead animals or road kill) Chicken from the coop 
Fruits Pet food 

These are the possum diet in the wild, suburban areas and as a baby joeys. Knowing what possums eat is crucial for protecting them from your property and preventing potential damage.

Baby opossums on mothers back.

Should You Feed Possums?

It is important to remember that possums are wild animals and should not be fed. While it might seem like a kind gesture, providing food for them can do more harm than good. Possums may become too accustomed to humans, which can lead to aggression or other unwanted behaviors.

Toxins to Avoid When Feeding Possums

While it is not recommended if you decide to feed possums, avoid any food that can harm the animal. Here are some toxins to avoid:

  • Dairy since it can give them diarrhea.
  • High-fat food like bacon.
  • High-sugar food like candy.
  • High in salt food like chips.

These can make possums sick, so it is best to avoid feeding them. They can find enough food in the wild and suburban areas.

How to Prevent Possums from Eating Your Garden

If you’re a proud garden owner, knowing that possums love feasting on your plants is essential. Don’t worry, though; there are simple steps you can take to keep them away and make sure they don’t munch on your garden.

  • Install fencing around the garden: this will discourage them from entering the area.
  • Set up motion-activated sprinklers or lights: these can frighten possums away when they approach.
  • Maintain a clean garden: remove fallen fruits and vegetables from the ground as soon as possible to prevent possums from scavenging through them.
  • Cover fruits and vegetables with netting or other materials: this will discourage them from getting to the food.
  • Remove any food sources that may attract possums: put away pet food and clean fallen fruits. If they cannot find food, they will eventually leave.
  • Call a professional to trap and remove the possums: if all else fails, you can hire a professional to trap possums humanely.

Protect your garden and family from pesky possums with these helpful tips. You can use them for a safe, successful growing season without furry intruders.

FAQs

Now that you know more about possums, here are some frequently asked questions:

What is the possum’s favorite food?

Possums are omnivorous and will eat almost anything they can find. However, their favorite food tends to be fruits like berries and apples.

What attracts possums to your yard?

Possums are attracted to food sources, so leaving pet food or garbage outside can attract them. They may also be drawn to gardens with fruits and vegetables.

Are possums aggressive?

Possums may look dangerous, but they’re pretty timid. If you see one in your backyard, don’t worry – it’s just looking for food and isn’t likely to bother you. However, if the possum feels its safety is threatened or has no way of escaping, it can become aggressive, so remember to give them its space and leave them alone.

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