Opossum vs Possum

Opossums and possums are types of animals, specifically marsupials. They are not the same animal, and have many different characteristics, but confusion reigns for a number of reasons: First, the spelling of possum and opossum is quite similar; second, the animals look slightly similar; and, last, the most common species of opossum in North America, the Virginia opossum, is often referred to as a possum.

While possum is sometimes a synonym of opossum, it can also refer to a completely different species that lives in New Guinea, Australia, Indonesia, and elsewhere in the Pacific. Though possums and opossums have a lot in commonincluding the fact that theyre nocturnal, omnivorous, tree-dwelling marsupials that are known to play dead, or play possum, when threatenedthey look quite different.


Even though they look familiar, they are quite different from each other and not interchangeable. However, in America, sometimes the possums also mean Opossums. For they called opossum as American possums and vice versa. In America writing possum is more common than writing the opossum and so is the case in speech.

While writing or during the speech, you should keep in mind the audience you are targeting. In Australia, it is not recommended to interchange the names because they will get confused if you mean to say possum as an opossum.


The opossum has sharp teeth like a cat, but the primary distinguishing feature of an opossum is its bare, rat-like tail.

Some people consider the opossum to be an ugly creature, when in fact the opossum is wonderfully helpful to humans. It eats approximately 5,000 ticks a season and many other vermin. It keeps gardens pest free. It is almost impossible for an opossum to have rabies. They do however carry a virus that can be lethal to horses and they can kill small chickens. So horse and chicken owners should take extra care.


The Australian possum, also called the common brushtail possum, looks a lot like a large Chinchilla.

First, its coloration is much different. They range from a chinchilla gray to a fox silver-gray and gold, and even black.

The ears of a possum are larger than that of the Virginia opossum, and their fur is softer and much more bushy. The key differentiator, however, is the Australian possum has a bushy tail covered in fur (hence the name).


Both animals are marsupials, and their snouts, feet, and eyes are similar. They both have similar diets, essentially being opportunistic omnivores. Opossums and possums both eat, to varying degrees, meat and other animal matter such as insects, birds eggs, and small vertebrates, leaves, flowers, shoots, fruits, and seeds.


Depending on where in the world you are right now, this information will hit you differently. From all of the above discussions, we hope you now have more understanding about the opossums and possums that they are not the same animal. Now you will have no more confusions assuming both are same. However, they have some similar traits, obviously because they belong to the same class of marsupial. They are not the same just like crocodile and alligator. Therefore, if anyone is referring to possums as opossums, you need to ask which animal type they are referring to.

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