Opossums & Woodchucks

Opossum

What does an Opossum look like?

An opossum is a whitish or grayish mammal about the size of a house cat. Its face is long and pointed its ears rounded and hairless with a ratlike tail. The opossum is the only marsupial (with pouch) located in North America. Opossums usually live alone and are active only at night. When threatened, an opossum may bare its teeth, growl, hiss, bite, and exude a smelly, greenish fluid from its anal glands. If these defenses are not successful, an opossum may play dead. They are expert swimmers and climbers.

What does an Opossum eat?

Opossums are opportunistic omnivores. Those living near people may visit compost piles, garbage cans, or food dishes intended for dogs, and cats. However preferred foods are animal matter, mainly insects or carrion.

What about their babies?

Opossums have 2-3 litters per year, with an average of seven young per litter. The young are born 13 days after mating. They are about the size of a navy bean when they are born, and will nurse in the mother’s pouch for up to 60 days. Most “joeys” die during their first year. The maximum age in the wild is about 7 years.

Do Opossums hibernate?

Opossums do not hibernate. They remain active through all seasons.

What makes an Opossum a pest?

Opossums dig around foundations and backyard areas, and sometimes den in attics and garages where they may make a messy nest. Opossums pose little, if any, significant threat to humans.
Opossums occasionally become a regular nuisance and need to be live-trapped and removed by a professional.

Woodchuck

What does a Woodchuck look like?

The woodchuck, a member of the squirrel family, is also known as the “ground hog” or “whistle pig.” It is usually grizzled brownish gray and its tail is short, well furred, and dark brown. Woodchucks are diurnal, (active during daylight hours), solitary, and are occasionally found climbing trees. Like other rodents, woodchucks have white or yellowish-white, chisel-like incisor teeth. The woodchuck’s compact, chunky body is supported by short strong legs. Its front feet have long, curved claws that are well adapted for digging burrows. Groundhogs excavate their own holes or burrows within minutes. They develop complex burrows and tunnel networks for shelter and escape routes. These burrows provide the woodchuck a home for mating, raising young, hibernation, and protection from threats and predators. Woodchucks usually range only 50 to 150 feet from their den.

What does a Woodchuck eat?

Woodchucks are strict herbivores that forage on fruits, grasses, and plants in flower and vegetable gardens.

What about their babies?

Woodchucks have an annual litter that produces 2-6 hairless and blind cubs. They are weaned by late June or early July, and soon after strike out on their own. The life span of a woodchuck is about 3 to 6 years.

Do Woodchucks hibernate?

Due to their feeding preferences and the shortages of food in winter months, woodchucks must hibernate. They hibernate from late October to March or April depending on their geographic location. Woodchucks are among the few mammals that enter into true hibernation.

What makes a Woodchuck a pest?

Damage to crops can be costly and extensive. Fruit trees and shrubs are damaged by woodchucks as they gnaw or claw woody vegetation. Gnawing on underground power cables has caused electrical outages. Damage to rubber hoses in vehicles, such as those used for vacuum and fuel lines, has also been documented. On occasion, burrowing can weaken slabs and foundations.

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