While most of us are sweltering in the August heat, our marsupial brothers and sisters down under are settling into their winter homes. The opossum (Pseudotasciatica) has a unique sleep pattern, a habit that contributes greatly to its survival. The animals are nocturnal, and during the day, they find sheltered spots to rest and recover from their night adventures.
Oftentimes, the creatures are seen along roadways and in neighborhood yards as well as visiting bird feeders overnight looking for a meal. They can be recognized by their red or orange eye shine that shines back at passersby in the dark.
One of the more common myths about opossums is that they are seen sleeping hanging upside down from their tails. This is a falsehood, as opossums use their tails to grip branches and help them balance as they clamber through trees and bushes. They can also wrap the tail around their bodies as they tuck into their dens for extra comfort and protection from predators.
Since opossums are active at night, they need to find dark places to hide during the day and sleep until the evening. These places can include caves, rock crevices, abandoned burrows and nests, brush piles, hollow trees, and the attics of houses, sheds, and barns. If you are concerned about opossums living in your attic, consider placing an old dog carrier crate filled with hay or other bedding to discourage them. The crate should be secured with a heavy-duty zip tie and positioned on cinder blocks to keep the wind or opossums from tipping it over.