Virginia opossums are opportunistic omnivorous feeders, seen as pests, because they consume vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, fruits, grains, carrion, farm poultry, pet food, and even garbage.
Virginia opossums are extremely opportunistic omnivorous feeders. Their diets include vertebrates, invertebrates, plant material, fruits, grains, pet food, garbage, and carrion.
Stomach content analyses have been conducted on Virginia opossums throughout the United States, generally their diet is composed of 14 to 27% mammal tissues, 10 to 18% fruits, seeds and bulbs, 6 to 11% grasses and leaves, 3 to 13.5% insects, 5.5 to 9% earthworms and 3 to 5% birds. Other food items were found more specific to an animal’s location and included up to 22.5% reptiles and amphibians, 10% gastropods, 9% pet food, 9% garbage and up to 5% carrion.
Because of their love of garbage, pet food, and even poultry, Virginia opossums are often seen as a pest species. Stomach content analyses in Portland, Oregon found that as much as 9% of an opossums diet was composed of garbage, likewise, another 9% of their diet was pet food. Virginia opossums are also seen as farm pests due to their proclivity for poultry.
Sources: (Baker, Cook, Johnson, & Lamberski, 1995; Christiansen, 2006; Durden & Nixon, 1990; Hopkins & Forbes, 1980; McManus, 1974; McRuer & Jones, 2009; National Geographic Society; Pérez-Hernandez, Lew, & Solari, 2016; Rejmanek, et al., 2009; Siciliano, 2013; Willson, 1993)
Image: Florida Fish and Wildlife