Opossum vs Possum: Difference and Comparison

Possum and opossum originated from the word “aposoum.” It means “white animal” in a Native American language.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Opossums are marsupials native to North and South America, while possums belong to a different marsupial family found in Australia and New Guinea.
  2. Opossums have prehensile tails and a more rat-like appearance, while possums possess bushy tails and resemble small kangaroos.
  3. Both opossums and possums are nocturnal creatures and play essential roles in their respective ecosystems by controlling insect populations and dispersing seeds.

Opossum vs Possum

Opossums are omnivore creatures that are found in North and South America. They are medium-sized with a coarse fur and bare tail. They can be seen in forests and shrublands. Possums are herbivores found in Australia, China, New Guinea and Indonesia. They are small-sized with a furry tail and seen in the hollows of trees.

Opossum vs Possum

They were born in the Southern part of America and became part of North America through the Great American Interchange scheme.

Possums are relatively smaller than Opossum, and the smallest species is the Sulawesi dwarf cuscus, which is only 34 cm.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonOpossumPossum
HabitatNorth America and South AmericaAustralia, New Guinea and Eastern Indonesia
TailBare tail with coarse furThick, furry and squirrel like tail.
SizeBigger than PossumSmaller than Opposum
Body structurePointed white face, black eyes and jagged teethRound body, large brown eyes and thick golden fur
Source of EnergyOpossum are omnivorous mammals and prefer meat and vegetation according to their species.Possum are herbivores and survive on plant material, eucalyptus leaves, herbs, shrubs and fruits.

Who are Opossum?

Opossums are medium-sized, semi-arboreal marsupials found in North America and South America.

The species are sexually dimorphic, which means the males are slightly bigger, heavier, and have larger canines than females.

The gestation period extends to 12-14 days. After this, the female gives birth to a litter of 20 baby opossums.

Though they might sometimes occupy abandoned burrows, opossums are generally found in areas like forest, shrublands, mangroves, rainforests, eucalyptus forests, etc.


Who are Possum?

Possum are small, arboreal, herbivore marsupials found in Australia, China, New Guinea and Eastern Indonesia. These creatures prefer to live in the hollows of tall trees.

Interesting fact: Mountain brushtail possums change their mating partner depending on how much food is available to them in terms of plant material, herbs and shrubs.

Similar to any other marsupials, female possums give birth. Female possums have a gestation period of 17 days.

Baby possums are as small as honeybees and are born dead and blind.

Interestingly, possums have a different way of communicating. They use guttural and harsh coughs and sometimes even sharp hisses.


Main Differences Between Opossum and Possum

  1. Opossums have a pointed white face, black eyes and jagged teeth. In contrast, the possums have a round body, large brown eyes and thick golden fur.
  2. Possums are herbivores and survive on plant material, whereas opossums are omnivorous and survive on meat and vegetation.
Difference Between Opossum and Possum
  1. https://meridian.allenpress.com/jwd/article-abstract/39/2/418/123221
  2. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/19550100979

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