Opossums vs Possums: Difference and Comparison

Earth is filled with lots of unique species of living organisms. Every continent has hundreds of unique species of animals. These species are found in certain places due to the required environment.

They choose their habitats depending on many factors. Similarly, opossums and possums are two such species that live far away from each other on different continents.

Key Takeaways

  1. Opossums are a type of marsupial that is native to North and South America, while possums are a type of marsupial that is native to Australia and surrounding islands.
  2. Opossums are larger and have a more robust appearance than possums, which are smaller and more slender.
  3. Opossums are considered pests or nuisance animals, while possums are protected in Australia and are seen as a symbol of the country’s wildlife.

Opossums vs Possums

Opossums are found in North America and are the only marsupial native to the continent. They are referred to simply as “possums” in North America. Possums are found in Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the Pacific. They are a type of marsupial and are related to kangaroos and koalas.

Opossums vs Possums

Opossums belong to the marsupial species, the marsupial order whose members are not entirely developed. The marsupial order is found in America, New Guinea, and. Australia.

Opossums have a furless thin tail, and they stand on their hind legs. Their hind feet have opposable thumbs. Opossums are mostly grey in color, and their species belong to the family Didelphidae.

Possums are also from the marsupial order and have hairless tails. The scientific name used for possum Is Phalangeriformes. Possums dwell on trees, and they can weigh up to 20 pounds.

Possums are found in Australia and New Guinea. The brushtail kind of famous is widespread and known to people. By nature, possums are a scavenger.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonOpossumsPossums
FamilyThe family opossums are associated with is known as Didelphidae. The family possums are associated with is known as Phalangeridae.
AppearanceOpossums have pointy teeth and a long tail, and that’s the reason they appear scary and wild. Possums are small and have big, round, black eyes with tiny tails. They are very adorable and cute.
HabitatOpossums are primarily found in the Australian continent and New Guinea. Possums are only found in the South and North American continents.
ColourThe color of opossums’ body is grey, and their face is always white. Possums are found in different shades of colors such as golden, black, brown, and silver-grey.
LifespanThe expected lifespan of an opossum can be two to four years, and they have a short lifespan. A possum has a comparatively longer lifespan that can go up to 15 years.

What is Opossums?

An American marsupial with a hairless tail is known as an opossum. They have coarse fur and legs with opposable thumbs. In Western Hampshire, the marsupial is considered to be the most significant order.

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This order comprises 100+ species, and the opossum is one of them. Opossums are the animals who once shared the same environment as dinosaurs.

They are a type of pouched animal that resembles rats. Opossums are related closely to Koalas and Kangaroos.

Because opossums keep their infant in the pouch just like kangaroos, opossums can be very harmful to mankind because they can transmit several types of serious diseases.

The opossums are known to carry illnesses like tularemia, leptospirosis, spotted fever, coccidiosis, etc.

Opossums are native to Australia and nearby countries or islands. Due to lack of shelter and food, now opossums are finding their habitats among human society.

They live in forests and brushy areas. They fill up their dens with dry leaves and grass. The infants of opossum remain in the pouch for about fifty to sixty days.

Opossums are ancient species of earth that haven’t changed a little bit. Opossums have become so versatile to the environment that they never get sick due to wildlife diseases. Opossums can eat nuts, fruits, and meat. They are Omnivores.


What is Possums?

The possums are members of the Trichosurus genus and are found in North America and South America. The existence of possums dates back to the seventeenth century.

The possums belong to the same family as opossums, but they are pretty different. Possums can be consumed to be cousins of Opossums. Possums are small and fluffy, and people love to keep them as a pet.

Their fur has a smooth texture and gives them an adorable look. There have been many claims that possums carry savior diseases, but recently, it has been stated that they do not spread disease.

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Unlike Opossums, possum helps people to prevent some kind of diseases. Possums have the capability to eat dead meat and avoid botulism.

They are resistant to rabies and can eat hundreds of ticks. Possums are also immune to snake venom and predators to copperheads and rattlesnakes.

Possums have about 50 teeth, and they expose all of them when they sense any threat. They even hiss to scare their predators off. Possums are very self-protective and don’t like their space to be invaded.

Possums also emit a specific foul smell to protect them from unknown dangers. It is difficult for a possum to complete two years alive in the wild, but in human care, they live longer. They are not considered to be harmful to humans in any aspect.


Main Differences Between Opossums and Possums

  1. The size of a opossums’ ears is smaller compared to a possum. On the other hand, possums have longer ears, surprisingly.
  2. The structure of opossums’ fur is flat, long, and rough. They feel coarse and dull. On the other hand, possums’ fur is small, smooth, and fleshy.
  3. Opossums are divided into several kinds, for instance, Virginia opossum, short-tailed opossum, large American opossum, etc. On the other hand, the different types of possums are gliders, brushtail possums, and phalangeridae.
  4. An adult opossum can weigh about 15 pounds that can go up to 6 to 7 kilograms. On the other hand, a possum can gain up to 20 pounds (about 9 kilograms).
  5. Although opossums are a member of a similar family as possums, they are very close to kangaroos. On the other hand, possums have nothing to be compared with kangaroos.
Opossums vs Possums – Difference Between Opossums and Possums
  1. https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1993.tb02665.x
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040580901915539

Last Updated : 23 July, 2023

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