Virginia opossum are born tiny and under-developed with muscular front legs to allow them to climb to their mother’s pouch, however; only about 1 in 3 will survive the trip.
Virginia opossum offspring are born altricial and honey bee-sized. They typically weigh between 0.13 to 0.20 grams and are generally about 14 millimeters long.
Although the newborn offspring are highly under-developed in many regards, the young do possess muscular front legs, allowing them to climb to the mother’s pouch. Scent glands help the neonates locate their mothers pouch. Many young will not survive the trip to the pouch. Those who do, remain attached to the mammae for approximately 50 to 70 days.
Females average about 8 pouch-young per litter out of a total litter of 4 to 25 offspring.
Sources: (Burnie, Wilson, & Clutton-Brock, 2001; Christiansen, 2006; Feldhamer, Drickamer, Vessey, Merritt, & Krajewski, 2007; Hoffmeister, 2002; Holmes, 1992, May; Hossler, McAninch, & Harder, 1994; Kimble, 1997; Kolb and Wang, 1985; McManus, 1974; O’Connell, 2006; Rademaker & Cerqueira, 2006; Siciliano, 2013)
Image: Heather Paul