Virginia Opossum

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Virginia opossums are solitary and will show aggression towards each other by “dancing” and lashing their tails while secreting from their dual anal glands.

Virginia opossums are solitary and their social behavior is not well developed, with the exception of mating. Mating behavior is one of the only social behaviors displayed by Virginia opossums. After mating, females resume their aggressive, solitary disposition.

Most encounters between adult opossums are usually hostile and aggressive. Many defensive techniques and behaviors have been noted and studied in the opossum. During aggressive encounters, Virginia opossums use olfactory and auditory signals to communicate with their potential aggressors, including discharging an excretion from two anal glands. In response to threatening stimuli, the animal will also hiss, growl, and bare teeth.

Aggressive encounters between males may involve a ‘dance’ in which they lash their tails and reach with their front legs.

However, captive individuals raised together may form non-aggressive hierarchies in which females are dominant.

Sources: (Allen, Marchinton, & MacLentz, 1985; Christiansen, 2006; Fernandes, Cruz, & Martins, 2010; Hoffmeister, 2002; Holmes, 1992, December; Hossler, McAninch, & Harder, 1994; Kimble, 1997; Ladine & Kissell, Jr., 1994; McManus, 1974; McRuer & Jones, 2009; Pérez-Hernandez, R., Lew, D., & Solari, 2016; Siciliano, 2013; Wilemon, 2008)
Image: Florida Fish and Wildlife

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