Pity the poor opossum, to paraphrase comedian Rodney Dangerfield: It don’t get no respect. Perhaps another opossum would consider a possum attractive, but not many humans would think any opossum was good looking –
And, some look worse than others –
Opossums are marsupials, bearing tiny young that have to make their way to the mother’s pouch where they nurse and grow for several months.
Although originally considered a southern species, opossums have expanded their range northward over the years and are now even found in southern Canada. With their naked tails and sparse hair possums are poorly suited to cope with winter in the northern part of their range.
Possums will eat almost anything edible, rotten or not. Many years ago a friend, who ate a lot of wild game, described woodchuck meat as quite tasty but reported the meat of the one and only possum he’d ever eaten as extremely greasy, even vile, and said “Never again!”
Opossums are short-lived, a three or four year old opossum is “ancient”; their average life span is less than two years.
Opossums frequently lose portions of their ears or tails to frostbite. Perhaps that’s what happened to this possum’s tail –
That photo, taken on July 5, 2015, is from a camera trap above the house. The same animal was again caught by a camera trap on March 19, 2016. The tail’s stub still appears raw after many months –
So, perhaps we should pity the poor possum. But, only as an individual, as a species it’s a survivor with ancestral forms going back for over 50 million years. As a species they deserve the respect due to survivors of adversity.