Jim Gilbert's Nature Notes: Amazing opossums

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 12, 2013 - 2:36 PM

In the past 25 years, the opossum has expanded its range to the point where folks in central and even northwestern Minnesota can now turn on a yard light and catch one eating from a dog dish or bird feeder. Although opossums are quite common in the Twin Cities area and throughout southern Minnesota, they are almost entirely nocturnal. Therefore, they are seldom seen.

Adult opossums are the size of house cats, have short legs, are grayish-white and have long naked tails. The leaflike ears are thin and naked. Some people say that the opossum is not very intelligent. I disagree. It has succeeded as a species where other forms have become extinct. It has also followed the progress of civilization even into regions of severe winters, where it remains active throughout the year. So don’t be surprised to see one at your wildlife feeding station one of these cold evenings.

The opossum’s natural habitat is a wooded area along a stream, near a lake or in a swamp. Their range stretches from Minnesota to New York and as far south as central Mexico. And they will eat almost anything organic, including carrion, spoiled fruits, fresh fruits, eggs, nuts and insects.

Opossums are slow-moving, so if you or your dog decides to chase one, the creature will seek safety up a tree, in a brush pile or, if a retreat cannot be reached, it may play “possum” — that is, pretending to be dead.

Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. His observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Portland 6:00 PM
Cleveland
Sacramento 6:30 PM
Toronto
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Atlanta
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Utah
Washington 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Toronto 6:30 PM
New Jersey
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 6:00 PM
UCF
Winthrop 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Colgate
Northeastern 6:00 PM
Drexel
Wake Forest 6:00 PM
Florida State
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Fordham
Delaware 6:00 PM
James Madison
South Carolina 6:00 PM
LSU
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Maine
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
Marquette
Binghamton 6:00 PM
UMBC
American Univ 6:00 PM
Navy
Elon 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Wright State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Penn State
Duquesne 6:00 PM
Richmond
SMU 6:00 PM
South Florida
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Albany 6:00 PM
Vermont
Hofstra 6:00 PM
William & Mary
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
Longwood
Radford 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 6:30 PM
Notre Dame
Texas Tech 6:30 PM
Oklahoma
Oregon State 7:00 PM
Arizona State
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Bradley
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Bucknell
Rice 7:00 PM
Houston
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
Creighton
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Memphis
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Purdue
Kansas 8:00 PM
TCU
Oregon 9:00 PM
Arizona
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Washington
Rider 26 2nd Half 20:00
Siena 23
Dayton 11:00 AM
Richmond
Eastern Kentucky 11:30 AM
Jacksonville St
Saint Josephs 11:30 AM
Saint Louis
UMBC 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Akron 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Memphis 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
East Carolina 6:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
Murray State 6:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Kent State 6:00 PM
Central Michigan
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Eastern Michigan 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Indiana 6:00 PM
Michigan State
Colgate 6:00 PM
Lafayette
Fordham 6:00 PM
Davidson
Duquesne 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
George Mason 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Detroit 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Austin Peay 7:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
Minnesota
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
UNLV
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close