North America's only marsupial (female has a pouch) mammal. The female carries and nurses her young in her marsupium until they are about 2 to 3 months old; then they are carried on her back another 1 to 2 months whenever they are away from the den.
Size of a cat; grey to black fur; black eyes; pink nose, feet and tail; black ears; and pointed nose.
Solitary and nocturnal: usually slow moving; when frightened and unable to flee may fall into an involuntary shock-like state, "playing 'possum".
Hiss or growl and show their 50 sharp teeth when frightened; but, in reality, they are gentle and placid — they prefer to avoid all confrontations and wish to be left alone.
Omnivorous: eats insects, snails, rodents, berries, over-ripe fruit, grasses, leaves, and carrion; occasionally will eat snakes, ground eggs, corn or other vegetables.
Adaptable; able to live wherever water, food, and shelter exist. At home in trees; uses its prehensile tail to help stabilize position when climbing— it does not, however, hang by its tail.
One of the shortest lived mammals for its size, typically 2 to 4 years. Killed by many predators: humans (and cars), dogs, cats, owls, and larger wildlife.