Opossum – Mammal of the month

The opossum is the “Mammal of the month” at Fountain Rock Park & Nature Center.


(photo by Mike, used with permission)

Did you know that the first animal to be given the name “Opossum” was the Virginia Opossum and it was so named in the year 1610? Opossum was reportedly an Indian word meaning “white dog” or “white animal” according to early records.

Opossums eat both vegetables and meat such as insects, frogs, birds, snakes and dead animals such as road kill. Opossums also love to find garbage cans to look for food. Opossums come out mainly at night, although they are sometimes seen in daylight hours. Opossums are possibly best known for their behavior of playing “possum” (or pretending to be dead) when they feel threatened.
Opossum_2 (photo by Cody Pope, used with permission under a Wikiepdia creative commons license)

The Virginia opossum was once widely hunted for both it’s fur and it’s meat. Opossum meat was eaten by early settlers in many areas of the United States. Opossum fat is considered by some people to have medical uses including the relief of arthritis and being used as a chest rub.

Would you like to know more about opossums? Please stop by our Nature Center and ask one of our friendly staff or volunteers. They will be glad to answer any questions you might have about opossums. If you ask, they might even show you a pelt taken from an opossum.

The Nature Center is open on weekends. Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm. The park grounds are open seven days a week starting at 8am.

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