British pronunciation/əpˈɒsəm/
American pronunciation/oʊˈpɑsəm/

a small nocturnal marsupial with a long tail that lives in trees and is found in the western hemisphere

What is an "opossum"?


The opossum, also known as possum in North America, is a marsupial mammal found primarily in the Americas. They are known for their distinctive appearance, with a pointed snout, naked prehensile tail, and often gray or white fur. Opossums are nocturnal animals, known for their scavenging behavior and ability to adapt to a wide range of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas. They have a varied diet that includes insects, small animals, fruits, and carrion. Opossums are also known for their unique defense mechanism of "playing possum" or "playing dead," where they roll over, excrete foul-smelling liquid, and appear lifeless when threatened. This behavior is meant to deter predators from attacking them. Opossums are marsupials, meaning they carry and nurse their young in a pouch on their belly, and they are the only marsupial native to North America.


small furry Australian arboreal marsupials having long usually prehensile tails

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