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One of the most interesting things about possums is the way they play dead when they feel threatened. Playing dead even as they are touched, or bitten by other animals is a good survival tool since many predators don’t eat food that is already dead.
But these furry animals of the Didelphimorphia family have many other fascinating characteristics. Their diet, for example, is extremely intriguing since they are omnivores which mean they eat both plant and flesh matter.
What Do Possums Eat?
Being omnivores, these animals do have quite a flexible diet. They can survive on all sorts of animals as food and also eat various plants and grains. It is illegal to keep a possum as a pet in many states but in rehabilitation centers, they are fairly easy to keep because of their diverse diet. Here is a quick look at the foods these animals love to munch on.
Dead animals or carrion and skeletal remains
Possums need a lot of protein in their diet and they also crave calcium. These cravings drive them to feed on carrion meat. They are happy to feed on any other dead animal they can find including decayed animals. Opossums will eat the meat of any animal including goats, pigs, lambs, rats, and many others.
Their craving for calcium also drives them to chew on skeletal remains and bones of smaller animals like rats.
These flexible animals will also feed on any insects they find. They will eat ants, roaches, crickets, grasshoppers, worms, ticks, moths, spiders, centipedes, and even some dangerous or poisonous insects. Their ability to eat these foods makes them a very valuable animal since they help maintain the ecosystem by reducing the number of insect plagues.
Possums have sharp teeth and they are surprisingly fast for animals that love to play dead. They can hunt all sorts of small animals such as rats, mice, frogs, birds, hamsters, moles, birds, and many other animals. These animals can even catch and eat venomous snakes.
Possums love to eat eggs. They will climb to great heights to reach bird nests so they can consume eggs. Egg is a very good food source for possums since this food contains lots of protein and eggshell is rich in calcium.
Fruits and certain plants
These furry mammals will also eat certain fruits. They can feed on these foods all day long and enjoy eating all sorts of fruits such as kiwifruit, pear, pawpaw, tomatoes, watermelon, honeydew, grapes, carambola, rockmelon, apples, oranges, berries, bananas, and many others.
Possum families can be quite damaging in gardens because they also consume various plants. They love the new sprouts or upper parts of plants. They are fond of eating fruit tree crops, soots, flowers, magnolias, roses, and many other plants.
Grains, seeds, and nuts
These animals also feed on various grains, seeds, and nuts. They love to eat all sorts of nuts, seeds like sunflower seeds or grains like oats, barley, spelt, rice, corn, sorghum, and various other types of grains. They enjoy eating these foods as well as soft leaves and sprouts from the plants that bear these foods.
Cat, dog and human food
Possums are also happy to eat cat and dog food. They will eat both pellets and soft foods such as canned meats. They are not likely to attack your pets to get these foods but will sit and wait for an opportune moment to go and feed.
Human foods are also attractive to possums since they eat various fruits, grains, and nuts. Possums may feed on several human foods such as bread, crackers, cookies, fruits, and many other foods. It is important not to offer possums human foods because these foods often contain a lot of ingredients such as sugar and salt that isn’t too healthy for these animals.
Because these animals eat such a huge variety of food, they don’t have too many diet variations. They are known to be annoying around trashcans because of their ability to eat various human waste foods and they can be quite annoying around pet feeding areas. The strangest thing about a possums diet is their huge need for calcium which drives them to feed on the skeletal remains of other small animals.
How to Feed Possums
If you want to supplement possums in your garden with food then you can simply leave food out in a dedicated area and offer freshwater. The possums will wait for the perfect moment to come and collect the food. It is best not to offer possums food by hand or to get too close to these animals. They do have razor-sharp teeth.
What to Possums Eat In the Wild?
In the wild, possums will constantly look for all sorts of foods they can find in their natural habitat. They feed on carcasses, soft green plants, fruits, berries and they are happy to hunt for insects or small animals. They may even hunt venomous snakes in times of need.
What Do Possums eat in Captivity?
In zoos and animal reservations, possums are fed various foods such as cat food, dog food, small animals, fruits, and eggs. They are usually offered a flexible diet to ensure that they get all the nutrients they need to maintain good health.
What do Baby Possums Eat?
Baby possums are called joeys. A female possum can birth up to 20 joeys at a time but not all of these are likely to survive since they need to latch onto their mothers while she moves to survive. Possums are mammals and joeys need milk.
Orphaned joeys can be kept on wombaroo milk replacement and they need to be offered fresh water from a young age. They are weaned at about 70 – 125 days depending on their species and solid foods are usually introduced when these animals are just a few weeks old.
Joeys can eat all sorts of soft solids such as fruits, young leaves, and cat or dog food.
How Often Do Possums Eat?
These small animals will feed all day if they can. They are constantly seeking out food and will spend many hours of their day seeking out fruits in their natural environment. They eat regularly throughout the day to keep their energy levels high.
Do Possums Eat Chickens?
Possums do eat chickens but they prefer chicks since a fully grown chicken can sometimes be a bit too big for them to handle. They often eat carrion meat and will feed on dead chickens. They are perfectly able to kill adult chickens but have difficulty carrying these foods away and need to feed on the spot.
Are Possums Dangerous?
Possums can be dangerous because they have sharp teeth. They are not very likely to bite and prefer to play dead but they can and will if they are threatened. These animals are considered dangerous because they can carry many diseases that can be transmitted to humans via a bite or via fleas that might hop from them to human hosts.
Ideally, it is best to steer clear of these animals when you find them in or underneath your home. It is also best to leave a possum alone while it is playing dead because they can be quite unpredictable and might lash out and bite at any given moment.
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