The opossum, or Virginia opossum, is a medium-sized marsupial that is a common sight in many parts of North America. To help avoid predators, opossums change the location of their den as frequently as every few days, and as a result they've learned to adapt to a variety of different environments. Opossums don't put a lot of effort into setting up a home base -- instead, they're happy to hunker down in whatever spot keeps them safe, dry and warm for a few days.
The Virginia opossum appears throughout Central America, up into Texas and as far north as Nebraska. From there, the animal's natural territory extends east across the United States to the coast from Florida to New England. The species is also found along the west coast of California, Oregon and Washington. However, they are not common in mountainous regions.
Unlike groundhogs, badgers or rabbits, opossums aren't very enthusiastic diggers, but that doesn't stop them from living in underground burrows and dens. Rather than dig their own nest, however, opossums are far more likely to move into old burrows that have been abandoned by other animals. Once an opossum has claimed a den, it fills it with soft nesting materials like dried leaves and grass.
Opossums are quite at home in trees. The animals are strong climbers thanks to powerful claws and a prehensile tail that can grasp branches for extra stability. They're common to wooded areas but prefer to live along the outskirts of the treeline close to a stream or other source of running water, rather than in the deeper parts of the forest. As well as nesting in trees, opossums may also set up forest dens in brush piles, fallen hollow logs, or even rock crevices.
Towns and Cities
The opossum's opportunistic nature has let it adapt very well to living in close proximity with humans. Opossums not only have a talent for scavenging garbage, road kill, rotten fruit and pet food, but they can also provide pest control for their human neighbors by hunting mice and rats, snails, beetles, and other insects. Urban-dwelling opossums are commonly found living underneath houses, decks, or porches, or inside sheds, garages, or firewood piles.
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