Possums are some of the most mysterious woodland creatures that can be found in both natural habitats and in human backyards and front yards. Despite their prevalence in urban and suburban settings, many people have little knowledge about these intriguing animals, including their sleeping habits. While possums are not true hibernators, they do experience multiple periods of sleep throughout the day and night, which helps them conserve energy.
During the day, possums spend most of their time resting in brush piles and hollow tree cavities. These hiding spots offer protection from predators and provide a slumbering environment that mimics the natural complexity of their forest surroundings.
These nocturnal mammals also enjoy spending their days curled up in a drey, a temporary nest that they construct using leaves and other materials. They typically build these nests in elevated positions to protect themselves from ground-dwelling predators. During the night, they may venture out to explore their surroundings, but will return to their dreys for warmth and security.
One of the most interesting behaviors that possums exhibit is known as “playing dead.” This is a protective mechanism that allows them to survive attacks from predators by mimicking a dying animal. During this act, possums will huddle on the ground with their eyes closed and emit a malodorous substance that can ward off predators.
While possums have prehensile tails that they can use to grasp and hold items, the cartoon depiction of them hanging upside down from their tails while sleeping is a myth. As reported by Indiana Public Media (Opens in a new window), possums' tails are not strong enough to support their weight while hanging from them. Juvenile opossums may be able to hang from their tails for a few seconds, but adults cannot.