Talk:Virginia opossum

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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 1 October 2018 and 12 December 2018. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Lkaplans.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 12:28, 17 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Additional info[edit]

RUIZ-PINA, Hugo A and CRUZ-REYES, Alejandro. The opossum Didelphis virginiana as a synanthropic reservoir of Trypanosoma cruzi in Dzidzilché, Yucatán, México. Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz. [online]. July 2002, vol.97, no.5 [cited 18 May 2005], p.613-620. Available from World Wide Web: <>. ISSN 0074-0276.

"It is often seen near towns, rummaging through garbage cans, or dead by the side of the road." Aw jeez, is this the best that can be said about the poor beasties? Jquarry 06:26, 18 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Virginia Opossum female usually has 13 nipples, twelve arranged in a circle with an additional one in the middle.

Dead link. Try to get archive copy. Terry Carroll 20:25, 18 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

PIE(or mistaken rat/disease analogy) be a significant reason why so many of them are killed on the road? Shanoman 22:02, 14 December 2006 (UTC)ShanomanReply[reply]

No mention of their ability to clmb trees either. There's one of the little guys up a tree in my yard right now. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).


I removed the statement "(the most among land mammals)that refered to its teeth, the numbat has 2 more teeth than the Virginia opossum. Zantaggerung 16:26, 23 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think it is an accurate statement that Opossums will, "will defend themselves viciously".

NantucketNoon 08:45, 12 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'[T]he reaction [of 'playing dead'] seems to be quite non-voluntary, and to be triggered by extreme fear.'

'...[C}an and will defend themselves viciously...'

These are conflicting statements. Please show some reference to the Opossum 'defend[ing]... viciously'.

NantucketNoon 17:31, 9 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Something about opossum origins in S. America while it was an island continent, and its being one of the very few successful reverse migrators (S to N) might be in order. --Wetman 06:15, 14 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, removing the roadkill opossum photo without explanation, was rude[edit]

A fellow Brer, an Opossum which did not reach maximum life span probaly killed by a car or a tiger

Especially as this common mode of death is thought important enough to be mentioned in the LEAD of the article! SBHarris 04:16, 6 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Native to the eastern United States[edit]

Currently the "Range" section says that the animal was originally native to the eastern United States.

This needs some clarification. It was found in Mexico before colonisation, for instance. Ordinary Person (talk) 08:40, 20 July 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was move all to sentence case titles. Let me make it clear that in doing so I am not endorsing the requester's rationale that the current titles are "inappropriate capitalization", but rather to the unanimous support here and the discussion at WikiProject Tree of life. Basically, the upshot there is that reliable English sources vary on how to capitalize such titles but that sentence case is more common in sources, is leaned toward in our existing guidelines, that it would be good for us to have some consistency in how we title animal article titles and that, other than birds, which are to remain an exception, sentence case is leaned toward if we're going to go with one over the other.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 10:31, 4 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Virginia OpossumVirginia opossum — inappropriate capitalization Relisting, consensus is close at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Tree of life#English names of biological species Andrewa (talk) 19:21, 13 April 2011 (UTC) (talk) 01:35, 4 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


It seems superfluous for the article leader to state that this animal is typically found in the road as a victim of roadkill. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:19, 3 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The range map is incomplete. They are found as far north as the southern 2/3 of the state of Minnesota and much of Wisconsin. (talk) 16:50, 9 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Could we add this to the article? Di: two + Delphus: womb. From Greek.
Moadeeb 17:36, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

Feigned death lack of references[edit]

The described feigned death reads well, but how about a reference or two? Dmccabe (talk) 02:04, 4 February 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The main article on feigning death (linked to in this article) has a good number of references..granted, that article is not exclusively about possums, yet it does list in its lede 'playing possum' as one of the terms for the subject, and the main picture for that article is a picture of a possum....playing possum XD. Firejuggler86 (talk) 10:23, 23 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have removed the outdated range map[edit]

@Itch Eye Bear: I have removed the horribly outdated range map. See my previous discussion on the earlier file's talk page. The range has expanded significantly, see Walsh & Tucker (2017)[1]. Other more recent articles, such as Kanda et al. (2006) [2] use, in lieu of IUCN data, map data from Gardner and Sunquist (2003)[3].

Note that the range map for Marsupials as a whole has been updated to reflect the expansion of the Virginia opossum. And yet, on the article about that specific marsupial which is doing all this expansion, we've been stuck with something known to be inaccurate. It's time that we stop spreading this misinformation. Either we can put up a correct map, or we don't show a map at all. BirdValiant (talk) 03:49, 9 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fair enough. I'll have a look into updating the map - I do believe I ran across a state-level distribution database for all North American mammals recently, but I can't remember where... if you have the data, I could give it a go in ArcMap, in any case? --Elmidae (talk · contribs)
@Elmidae: Earlier, Azcolvin429 upon a short discussion on his talk page, updated the worldwide marsupial map. Available maps are Figure 1 in Kanda et al. (2006)[2] and Figure 1.1 in Gardner & Sunquist (2003)[3]. Both are freely available on the web. Note that in Gardner & Sunquist Figure 1.2, you can see that the map we've been hitherto stuck with is approximately one century out of date with respect to expansion into Wisconsin and Minnesota.
If you could update the Virginia opossum range map in a similar way to how Azcolvin429 did, that would be amazing. The best I could do would be to shoddily scribble onto it with MS Paint, and nobody wants that. BirdValiant (talk) 22:19, 9 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Alright, that Walsh & Tucker map is probably the best data one could ask for. I'll have a crack at it. --Elmidae (talk · contribs) 22:43, 9 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, bowing out of this for the time being. I can't get ArcGIS to play nice (program is about as intuitive as a sackful of Slinkys) and doing it in a raster program would look ugly. Maybe someone with fewer GIS thumbs can give it a go :/ The Walsh & Tucker map certainly provides all necessary info. --Elmidae (talk · contribs) 19:29, 10 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Azcolvin429 and Elmidae: Dear Andy, could you be so kind as to use your map-fu to save us once more by fixing the Virginia opposum range map like you did for your worldwide marsupial range map?
There are apparently two files now: one which shows country borders which is used on most Wikis, and one which which does not show country borders and is only used on the English and French wikis. For the change to be seen on all wikis, both files would need to be updated.
Sorry to keep asking you for help, but I'm frustrated both at the blatantly-outdated data shown for everyone to see (approximately 100 years out of date when it comes to Wisconsin and Minnesota) and at my impotence to fix the situation beyond just making a horrible MS Paint botch-job. BirdValiant (talk) 20:18, 10 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A few comments. (1) On the whole, the differences between the two maps are minor (relative to the total range of the species). (2) For all most of us know, the IUCN-based map may well be more accurate than the Gardner and Sunquist map in some respects. (3) You're not likely to find range maps from different sources that lack significant disagreements. (4) The range expansion into Wisconsin and Minnesota can be easily described in words. (5) We can easily link to the Gardner and Sunquist map to point out the disparities with the IUCN-based map. (6) If we took the position that only up-to-date range maps without significant errors are usable, we'd probably have to get rid of most if not all of them. So, while your concern about the specific inaccuracy in WI and MN is valid, I find the idea that "nothing is better than something imperfect" to be nonsensical. WolfmanSF (talk) 04:28, 9 August 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Walsh, Lisa Lenoble; Tucker, Priscilla K. (30 August 2017). "Contemporary range expansion of the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) impacted by humans and snow cover". Canadian Journal of Zoology. doi:10.1139/cjz-2017-0071. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Kanda, Leann (July 2006). "Landscape Associations of Road-killed Virginia Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) in Central Massachusetts". American Midland Naturalist. doi:10.1674/0003-0031(2006)156[128:LAORVO]2.0.CO;2. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Gardner, Alfred L.; Sunquist, Melvin E. (January 2003). Opossum, Didelphis virginiana. pp. 3–29. Retrieved March 8, 2020.

A Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion:

Participate in the deletion discussion at the nomination page. —Community Tech bot (talk) 12:08, 15 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Eating all those ticks[edit]

Over at the opossum article, there's some controversy about whether the claim of 5000 ticks per year is accurate - see Opossum#Diet.

Opossums are also notable for their ability to clean themselves of ticks, which they then eat. Some estimates suggest they can eliminate up to 5,000 ticks in a season.[1] More recent research indicates the large consumption of ticks may not be true. [2]

That's not reflected in this article. Now, this is hardly my area of expertise so it would be helpful if someone who is closer to the subject could elaborate. Is this an ongoing controversy, or does the Hennessy & Hild paper put the "myth" to rest? Mr. Swordfish (talk) 02:43, 4 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't know if the H&H sample size of n=32 opossum stomachs is considered conclusive. There are other studies that say they do consume them in large numbers. I think it is still an ongoing debate. Zofiax13 (talk) 23:26, 20 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Kirchner, Jane (13 June 2017). "Opossums: Unsung Heroes in the Fight Against Ticks and Lyme Disease". National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  2. ^ Hennessy, Cecilia; Hild, Kaitlyn (15 July 2021). "Are Virginia opossums really ecological traps for ticks? Groundtruthing laboratory observations". National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved 18 January 2021.


The general wiki page for opossums states that the word "opossum" is borrowed from Powhatan language and cites an article on North American language from Cambridge University. This wiki page for the Virginia opossum says the word originates in Algonquin language with the meaning "white animal", and credits the source as a book on mammals found in Florida. It's impossible for both to be true. The Powhatan origin is probably the correct one given the source material and the regions occupied by the Powhatan tribes (Virginia) compared to the Algonquin (typically more northern states and Canada), but clarification on this matter would be appreciated. Thank you. Zofiax13 (talk) 23:40, 20 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Size reference?[edit]

Any source on them being so small as adults? Reference indicates a minimum of 1.9kg, not 11 ounces. LilyLitany (talk) 08:16, 5 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that was a hoax. I've updated per the given reference, and removed the next uncited statement. UtherSRG (talk) 12:20, 5 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks. I thought it was fishy I couldn't find any evidence for that elsewhere. LilyLitany (talk) 15:34, 5 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]