Marsupials: Opossums

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11436

Have you heard the phrase "playing opossum"? It means playing dead when in danger. Opossums almost get scared to death when attacked! Read about this common marsupial and draw a project!


Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • Did you know North America is home to a specific type of marsupial?
  • Do you know what kind of marsupial is pictured above?

It looks like a big rat, but it isn't!

Opossums are found in North America.

They can be found nearly everywhere in the United States. This small mammal is a marsupial.

  • Do you remember what a marsupial is?

If not, then visit or review the Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar.

Marsupials are mammals that have underdeveloped babies that grow in their mother's pouch. These critters can be found living in hollow trees and burrows.

opossum in a tree

Opossums are scavengers. This means they eat whatever they can find. They can be found rummaging through trash in cities. They can also be seen searching for insects, mice, grasses, birds, and pretty much anything else they can find.

They are omnivores — they eat both plants and animals.

opossum in a field

Opossums, like all marsupials, have pouches where their underdeveloped babies live. Opossums have around twenty babies at a time, but only about half of them survive.

The baby opossums spend two to three months in the pouch. After they leave the pouch, they hang on to their mother's back for about one month.

  • Can you see the babies on the mother's back below?

The babies learn how to climb and hunt from their mothers while they are riding on their mother's back.

opossum with young

Before moving on to the Got It? section, explain what opossums eat.

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