The Opossum’s Habitat (Terrain, Environment, Food & Shelter)

Have you ever wondered where opossums live? You have definitely seen them in your backyard or in your pool floating around, but have you ever asked yourself where they came from? If you’re still wondering and want to satisfy your curiosity, join us here in Floofmania and find out more about the opossum’s habitat!

What Kind Of Habitat Do Opossums Prefer?

Opossums, more commonly known as possums, are the only marsupials found in North America. They can thrive in a wide variety of environments, from deserts to wet meadows.

But if there’s one thing that makes opossums unique, it’s their preference to live in areas near bodies of water. They commonly inhabit farmlands and woodland areas near streams, lakes, and ponds because they want an accessible source of water to drink. 

Bottomland hardwood is an ideal habitat for opossums as it is close to rivers and swamps with areas that have tree openings, wood, rock piles, and burrows previously dug by other animals. These are where opossums commonly build their dens. 

Do Opossums Need Special Conditions To Thrive?

Opossums are adaptable and will live wherever food, water, and shelter exist. 

While ideally, they prefer areas where there is a nearby water source and places to occupy as their dens, opossums can also live in residential areas. 

So, if you spot them in your backyard or anywhere in your house, don’t fret. They are generally harmless and can actually help in keeping diseases at bay because they feed on many types of insects like ticks and cockroaches. 

Can Opossums Adapt To Different Environments?

We already know that opossums are highly adaptable animals that can thrive everywhere. Whether it be a moist area surrounded by swamps and streams, dryland, or urban and suburban neighborhood, opossums can survive. 

Even in non-sanitary places like landfills, opossums can continue living for as long as they can access food and water. 

Do Opossums Live In All Kinds Of Climates?

Opossums live in all kinds of climates, from dry to wet. However, they thrive more in dry climates and tend to slow down when exposed to wet and very cold climates. 

Being the terrestrial and arboreal animals that they are, opossums can easily adapt to dry areas. But in cold climates, especially during winter, they struggle to move around because their fur cannot provide enough insulation to keep them warm. This causes them to get frostbite on their paws, ears, and hairless tails. 

This is why you don’t have to worry about opossums scavenging in your house during winter. They don’t have the mechanism to roam around given the cold temperature, so they mostly stay in their dens where they try to keep themselves warm. 

An opossum drinking from a lake with rocks behind it.

Do Opossums Need A Burrow?

Although opossums spend most of their time in trees since they are arboreal, they also need burrows that serve as their dens. 

They occupy dens nearly everywhere, for as long as the den is dry and safe. They burrow in open fields, rock crevices, wood piles, and hollow stumps. Commonly, an opossum’s den is filled with dried leaves, grass, and other materials that could keep them warm during their stay.

Opossums do not stay in one burrow. They have several active dens because they move from time to time to avoid predators. 

Do Opossums Make Their Own Dens? 

Opossums do not make their own dens. They usually use burrows that have been abandoned by other animals. They also conveniently occupy piles of wood and tree cavities to make their temporary dens. 

Sometimes, opossums also move to residential areas and temporarily live in attics, garages, porches, and storage sheds. 

What Kind Of Food Sources Do Opossums Need?

Opossums are omnivorous and can eat pretty much anything in their environment. They usually eat fruits, grains, and insects. Insects make up the bulk of an opossum’s diet, which is also the reason why it is ideal for them to live in wooded areas and farmlands. 

Garbage is also one of the opossum’s primary food sources. When they are living near human settlements, opossums tend to raid garbage cans and dumpsters to look for something to eat. 

As an opportunist, even carrion or already dead animals become an opossum’s food source. This is why opossums can often be spotted near roadkills. And while this might seem unsanitary, opossums actually play an important role in keeping urban areas clean!

What Impact Do Opossums Have On The Environment?

Although often misunderstood as unsanitary and harmful animals, opossums are actually beneficial to humans and the environment. 

They act like little vacuum cleaners to ticks, eating about 5,000 ticks in a season. This helps prevent the spread of Lyme disease. 

Opossums also help keep the neighborhood clear of unwanted pests such as cockroaches, rats, and mice. If you love gardening, you can also treat opossums as your best friends as they help in keeping your gardens blooming by eating snails, slugs, and fallen fruits. 

Author: Clarisse Jane Javier

Hello, there! I’m CJ, and I’ve been writing since primary school. I love to write about a variety of topics, from pets to the arts. I have had an endless fascination for animals since I was a kid. Until today, I always looked forward to learning more about the diverse species we have on Earth.

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