Fun facts: Playing possum

Published 3:26 pm Friday, March 24, 2023

BAYOU PIERRE — They are the only marsupial native to North America, are the nickname for country icon George Jones and are known to play dead. Possums, commonly spelled Opossum, are a mammal native to Mississippi. 

This possum walked up during a spring turkey hunt along the Bayou Pierre in Lincoln County Tursday. It was sniffing around for food until it noticed a human presence and decided to play possum. Here are a few facts about the possum.

They are nocturnal and live in a wide range of habitat from wetlands to arid fields. Female possums carry their young in an abdominal pouch for several weeks during the gestation process. 

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Possums have a coarse grey and white fur, a pointed face like George Jones and a hairless tail which allows them to hold and manipulate items with their tail. Their front paws are similar to hands and allow them to carry nesting material or other objects according to an article written by MSU Extension. 

They prefer environments close to creeks and other wetland areas. Possums seek shelter in abandoned burrows of other animals, tree cavities, brush piles, and beneath other dense cover. If you shine a light on their eyes they often reflect a beady red. MSU Extension said the possum seeks other types of cover in urban settings. 

“Possums may den under steps, porches, decks and garden tool sheds. If they can gain access, opossums may also den beneath houses or in attics and garages,” the article states, “They make untidy nests of sticks and whatever else may be available. Nest components appear piled together rather than woven or stacked.”

They are omnivores and eat anything from fruit, nuts, fish, frogs, carrion. Possums are not aggressive unless threatened but can harm domesticated animals. 

MDWFP has a season for possums from October 1 to October 31 and Nov. 1 to February 28.