Remember back in December, when I said I'd let you all know if we had baby Virginia opossums, Didelphis virginiana? Well it's spring, and right on cue they're here! Sam Easterson's camera traps have caught the babies (we think there are three) on video over the last week, and although many people don't find opossum babies cute, there are a few of us here at the Museum that do. Check them out and make your own assessment.
Out for ride on Mom's back!
Here are some interesting facts about opossum babies.
- The opossum gestation period is only 11-13 days.
- When they are born, the babies are the size of a lima bean!
- Female opossums can give birth to more than 20 babies in one litter.
- After they are born the babies crawl up into the mother's marsupium (aka pouch—remember opossums are the only North American marsupials) and attach to one of her teats.
- There are only 13 teats in the marsupium, and its first come first serve.
- Babies are carried in the marsupium for between two and three months
- When they are large enough, the babies venture out of the marsupium and are carried around on the mother's back when they are out of the den.
- The average lifespan for an opossum is only two to three years!
Check out this video Sam's camera trap caught. It puts me in mind of all those fight scenes I've seen where outlaws are fighting on top of moving train that is about to go into a tunnel. Admittedly the mother opossum moves quite a bit slower than a train and the baby is not as nimble as a knife-throwing outlaw, but hey, you get the picture!
Carting all those babies around must be pretty tiring!