Possum or Opossum? Do you know?

Every month we get some queries regarding the differences between the North American Opossum and our very own Brushtail Possum. Well, that and a request for a Possum pie recipe (but that’s a whole other blog entry).

Other than the spelling, there are lots of differences, and we decided to put some of the myths and misconceptions to bed once and for all. In the process we discovered some interesting facts. Did you know that the American Opossum was introduced to North America as a food source during the Great Depression?

The Brushtail Possum: Trichosurus vulpecula
Inventive and determined forager with no natural predators
Average lifespan 6-7 years
Introduced to New Zealand from Australia, to start a fur industry
Dark brown or grey fur
Completely covered in thick fur with a warm hollow fibre
Up to 1.2m (4′) long and 14kg (32lb)

The North American Opossum: Didelphis virginiana
Feigns death by ‘playing possum’ to avoid danger
Average lifespan 2 years
Introduced to North America, from South America as a food source during the Great Depression
Dull grey-brown fur with white face
Long hairless prehensile tail
Up to 0.51m (20″) long and 6kg (13lb)

So, there you go! Makes for good dinner party conversation, huh?

Oh, and if you want to see photos, you’ll need this link

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