U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


OPOSSUMS (Didelphis virginiana)

Jeffrey J. Jackson, Extension Wildlife Specialist, Warnell School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602

Document Type Article


An opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a whitish or grayish mammal about the size of a house cat. Opossums are found in eastern, central, and west coast states. Habitats are diverse, ranging from arid to moist, wooded to open fields. Foods preferred by opossums are animal matter, mainly insects or carrion. Opossums usually live alone, having a home range of 10 to 50 acres (4 to 20 ha). Although opossums may be considered desirable as game animals, certain individuals may be a nuisance near homes where they may get into garbage, bird feeders, or pet food. Laws protecting opossums vary from state to state.