As many of us swelter in the heat of August, let’s spare a thought for our southern hemisphere cousins who are just coming out of their chilly winter. They are accustomed to cool nights and rainy weather, but it’s still nice for them to spend the day in their dens and warm up for the night ahead.
While we may be tempted to imagine that they are sleeping on top of the world, like our feline friends, possums actually prefer to sleep in concealed places on the ground. They often choose locations that have natural or man-made insulating materials, such as hollow logs, thick vegetation, and even your crawl space or attic!
While their prehensile tails come in handy when climbing and foraging, the infamous cartoon depiction of opossums hanging upside down by their tails while they sleep is a myth. They can certainly use their tails to help them hold on to branches and bushes, but they cannot support their weight while dangling from them, Indiana Public Media reports. Young opossums may be able to hang from their tails for a moment or two, but adults are not able to do so.
Since opossums are scavengers and omnivores, they typically forage during the night rather than the day. This gives them an opportunity to gather a variety of food sources, including insects, fruits, carrion and garbage. Opossums do not hibernate during the winter, so they must actively search for food at night. Opossums are known to enter homes and businesses for this reason, where they can disturb our insulation, cause water damage and leave behind droppings, zoonotic pathogens and fecal waste.