Virginia Opossum

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Virginia opossums are hardy, stout, robust individuals with short legs, hairless ears, and thick bodies and males tend to be larger and heavier than females.

Virginia opossums are relatively hardy, stout, robust individuals with short legs and thick bodies. They have large, delicate ears, which are predominately furless, making frost bite to that region extremely common.

Although there is some disagreement regarding sexual dimorphism in the Virginia opossum, adult males tend to be slightly larger than adult females.

Weight ranges from 1.9-2.8 kilograms, with females usually reaching a weight of 1.9-2.1 kilograms and males between 2.1-2.8 kilograms. These may be under-estimates, as some sources claim Virginia opossums’ body weight ranges from 3 to 6 kilograms. Weight measurement can range based on the animals chosen habitat as populations in urban areas tend to have a body mass that is approximately 34% larger than rural conspecifics.

Body and tail length estimates also vary. Males have an average body length of 40.8 centimeters with a tail length of 29.4 centimeters, whereas female body lengths average 40.6 centimeters with a tail length of 28.1 centimeters. However, other published estimates suggest body length may range from 33 to 55 centimeters, with a tail length of 25 to 54 centimeters.

The average heart rate of a normal Virginia opossum is approximately 200 beats per minute.

Sources: (Burnie, Wilson, & Clutton-Brock, 2001; Christiansen, 2006; Gipson & Palmer, 2001; Hoffmeister, 2002; Hossler, McAninch, & Harder, 1994; McManus, 1974; McRuer & Jones, 2009; Siciliano, 2013; Wilemon, 2008; Wright, Burt, & Jackson, 2012)
Image: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

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