Didelphis virginiana - Kerr, 1792
Virginia Opossum
Other English Common Names: Virginia opossum
Synonym(s): Didelphis marsupialis Linnaeus, 1758
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Didelphis marsupialis Linnaeus, 1758 (TSN 552536) ;Didelphis virginiana Kerr, 1792 (TSN 179921)
French Common Names: opossum d'Amérique
Spanish Common Names: Tlacuache Común, Guazalo, Zorro Pelón
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106143
Element Code: AMAAA01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Other Mammals
Image 7646

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Didelphimorphia Didelphidae Didelphis
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Didelphis virginiana
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 01Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4 (05Jun2015)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S5), Arizona (S3), Arkansas (S5), California (SNA), Colorado (S1), Connecticut (S5), Delaware (S5), District of Columbia (S5), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S5), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S5), Maine (S4), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (S5), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (S5), Nebraska (S5), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S5), New Mexico (SNA), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5), North Dakota (SU), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S5), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S5), South Carolina (S5), South Dakota (S4), Tennessee (S5), Texas (S5), Utah (SNR), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S5), Wyoming (S5)
Canada British Columbia (SNA), Ontario (S4), Quebec (SNR)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Most of eastern U.S. and adjacent southeastern Canada, ranging west to South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona, south to southern Central America; introduced in Pacific Coast states, ranging up Columbia River to Idaho. Range is expanding north and west.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Most of eastern U.S. and adjacent southeastern Canada, ranging west to South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona, south to southern Central America; introduced in Pacific Coast states, ranging up Columbia River to Idaho. Range is expanding north and west.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CAexotic, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IDexotic, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, ORexotic, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WAexotic, WI, WV, WY
Canada BCexotic, ON, QC

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005; Sechrest, 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Cochise (04003), Pima (04019), Santa Cruz (04023)
ID Latah (16057)*, Lemhi (16059)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
15 Upper San Pedro (15050202)+, Upper Santa Cruz (15050301)+, Rillito (15050302)+, Rio De La Concepcion (15080200)+
17 Palouse (17060108)+*, Middle Salmon-Panther (17060203)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: U.S. mating season January-July. Commonly 2 litters/year, sometimes 3; usually 1/year in north. Gestation lasts 13 days. As many as 23 offspring may compete for 13 or so teats. Average of 8-9 young are weaned after 10-12 weeks. Sexually mature at 9 months. Juveniles experience a high rate of mortality (Hossler et al. 1994). Females seldom live through more than one reproductive season.
Ecology Comments: Populations typically include a high percentage of young. Winter density was 1/9.9 ha and 1/44.5 ha at two locations in Tennessee (Kissell and Kennedy 1992).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Home range often elongate, varies from 1-58 acres; average 11.5 (Lay 1942). Mean radius from nest site 2000 ft. Ontario population had average range length of 3200 ft (Llewellyn and Dale 1964).

Virginia Opossums are also considered to be nomadic, remaining in an area only six months to a year (Hunsaker and Shupe 1977). Home ranges in the United States varied from 4.7 to 254 hectares, averaging about 20 hectares (Hunsaker 1977); in Venezuela home ranges varied from an average of 11.3 hectares in the dry season to 13.2 hectares in the wet season (Sunquist et al. 1987).

Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris, Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Very adaptable; may be found in most habitats. Prefers wooded riparian habitats. Also in suburban areas. Abandoned burrows, buildings, hollow logs, and tree cavities are generally used for den sites. In southeastern New York, all weaning dens were in burrows; weaning dens were in more densely vegetated habitats than were nonweaning dens (Hossler et al. 1994).
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Frugivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Frugivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Highly opportunistic. Foods include insects and other invertebrates, fruits, grains, carrion, small vertebrates, and human garbage.
Adult Phenology: Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Almost exclusively nocturnal. Maximum activity between 2300 and 0200 h (McManus 1971). Activity decreases during cold periods.
Length: 102 centimeters
Weight: 6300 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Major waterbodies (arbitrarily set at 1 km wide) without bridges.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Dispersal has not been adequately studied, but clearly these mammals are capable of extensive movements such that dispersal of several kilometers would not be unexpected.

Separation distance is arbitrary but reflects the likely low probability that two occupied locations separated by less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent truly independent populations over the long term.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .5 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a home range of 20 hectares.
Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 21Sep2004

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Aquin, P. 1999. Évaluation de la situation des groupes taxonomiques des mammifères du Québec. Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune. 5 pages.

  • Baker, R. H. 1983. Michigan mammals. Michigan State University Press. 642 pp.

  • Baker, R. J., L. C. Bradley, R. D. Bradley, J. W. Dragoo, M. D. Engstrom, R. S. Hoffman, C. A. Jones, F. Reid, D. W. Rice, and C. Jones. 2003. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2003. Museum of Texas Tech University Occasional Papers 229:1-23. [Available online at http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/publications/opapers/ops/op229.pdf ]

  • Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada. 438 pp.

  • Bradley, R.D., L.K. Ammerman, R.J. Baker, L.C. Bradley, J.A. Cook. R.C. Dowler, C. Jones, D.J. Schmidly, F.B. Stangl Jr., R.A. Van den Bussche and B. Würsig. 2014. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2014. Museum of Texas Tech University Occasional Papers 327:1-28. Available at: <http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/publications/opapers/ops/OP327.pdf> (Accessed April 1, 2015)

  • Conover, M. R. 1990. Reducing mammalian predation on eggs by using a conditioned taste aversion to deceive predators. J. Wildl. Manage. 54:360-365.

  • Dobbyn, J.S. 1994. Atlas of the mammals in Ontario. Federation of Ontario Naturalists, 355 Leslie Road, Don Mills, Ontario, M3B 2W8. 120 pp.

  • Fitch, H.S. and H.W. Shirer. 1970. A radiotelemetric study of spatial relationships in the opossum. Am. Midl. Nat. 84:170-186.

  • Gardner, A. L. 1982. Virginia opossum. Pages 3-36 in Chapman, J. A., and G. A. Feldhamer, eds. Wild mammals of North America. Biology, management, and economics. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore.

  • Godin, A. J. 1977. Wild mammals of New England. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 304 pp.

  • Hall, E. R. 1981a. The Mammals of North America, second edition. Vols. I & II. John Wiley & Sons, New York, New York. 1181 pp.

  • Hamilton, W. J., Jr., and J. O. Whitaker, Jr. 1979. Mammals of the eastern United States. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, New York. 346 pp.

  • Hartman, C.G. 1962. Possums. Univ. Texas Press, Austin. 174 pp.

  • Hossler, R. J., J. B. McAninch, and J. D. Harder. 1994. Maternal denning behavior and survival of juveniles in opossums in southeastern New York. J. Mamm. 75:60-70.

  • Hunsaker, D., II, and D. Shupe. 1977. Behavior of New World marsupials. Pages 279-347 IN D. Hunsaker, editor, The biology of marsupials. Academic Press, New York, NY. xv + 537pp.

  • Hunsaker, D., II. 1977. Ecology of New World marsupials. Pages 95-156 IN D. Hunsaker, editor, The biology of marsupials. Academic Press, New York, NY. xv + 537pp.

  • Keefe, J.F. 1967. The world of the oppossum. 144 pp.

  • Kissell, R. E., Jr., and M. L. Kennedy. 1992. Ecologic relationships of co-occurring populations of opposums (DIDELPHIS VIRGINIANA) and raccoons (PROCYON LOTOR) in Tennessee. J. Mamm. 73:808-813.

  • Lay, D.W. 1942. Ecology of the opposum in eastern Texas. Jour. Mammal. 23:147-159.

  • Llewellyn, L.M. and F.H. Dale. 1964. Notes on the ecology of the opossum in Maryland. Jour. Mamm. 45:113-122.

  • Mammalian Species, nos. 1-604. Published by the American Society of Mammalogists.

  • McManus, J. J. 1974. Didelphis virginiana. American Society of Mammalogists, Mammalian Species No. 40. 6 pp.

  • McManus, J.J. 1971. Activity of captive Didelphis marsupialis. (sic) Jour. Mamm. 52:846-848.

  • McManus, J.J. 1974. Didelphis virginiana. Am. Soc. Mammalogists, Mammalian Species No. 40 pp. 1-6.

  • Parks Canada. 2000. Vertebrate Species Database. Ecosystems Branch, 25 Eddy St., Hull, PQ, K1A 0M5.

  • Patterson, B. 2003. Unpublished database of Neotropical Mammal species. The Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois.

  • Reid, F. A. 1997. A field guide to the mammals of Central America and southeast Mexico. Oxford University Press, Incorporated New York, New York. 334 pp.

  • Schwartz, C. W., and E. R. Schwartz. 1981. The wild mammals of Missouri. University of Missouri Press, Columbia. 356 pp.

  • Sealander, J.A. and G.A. Heidt. 1990. Arkansas Mammals: Their Natural History, Classification and Distribution. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 308 pp.

  • See SERO listing

  • Sunquist, M. E., S. N. Austad, and F. Sunquist. 1987. Movement patterns and home range in the common opossum (DIDELPHIS MARSUPIALIS). Journal of Mammalogy 68:173-176.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. Two volumes. 2,142 pp. Available online at: http://vertebrates.si.edu/msw/mswcfapp/msw/index.cfm

  • Wilson, D. E., and S. Ruff. 1999. The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 750 pp.

  • Zeiner, D. C., W. F. Laudenslayer, Jr., K. E. Mayer, and M. White, editors. 1990b. California's wildlife. Volume III. Mammals. State of California, The Resources Agency, Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento, CA. 407 pp.

  • van Zyll de Jong, C.G. 1983. Handbook of Canadian mammals. 1. Marsupials and insectivores. National Museum of Natural Sciences, National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, Canada. 210 pp.

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