What is a marsupial? A marsupial is an pet belonging come the bespeak Marsupiala, infraclass Metatheria. Members encompass the kangaroo, koala, Tasmanian devil and also the Virginia opossum. Marsupials offer birth to fetal-like young following a brief gestation period. The young then nurse because that an extended duration of time. The is generally welcomed that a marsupial is a non-placental mammal who female carries her young in a pouch, or marsupium, which offers the occurring young with the ideal environment, warmth, possess a placenta, back the placenta is non-invasive and also functions in nutrient and also waste transport for a very short duration of time, around 3 job in the Virginia opossum.

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Female opossum v young in pouch

With the end a long-lasting and also functional placenta, the young need to be born early on in their advancement after a short gestation period. Marsupial young room basically embryos in ~ birth. When born, the young need to climb with a swimming movement up the fur on the female’s adbomen and also latch onto a teat. Not all mrs marsupials own a well-developed pouch, as found on the abdomen of the Virginia opossum. Some marsupials bring young in rudimentary pouches which are basically skin folds. Many other do not have actually a bag at all. The pouchless young need to firmly attach to the teats with their mouths and front paws.

The reproductive mechanism of the opossum has fascinated many and has led to exciting folklore. It to be once believed that the male opossum mated v the female opossum’s nose. She climate sneezed the young v her nose and into the pouch. That course, this is no true. There space several reasons why this id was held. One factor is the opossums room so small at birth it is complicated to witness the event. Observers had actually seen the female through an empty pouch one day. The following day she to be seen v her sleep in the bag making sneezing sounds. Later, upon examination of the pouch, tiny embryos to be found. Actually, the female opossum to be either cleaning the pouch before the birth or licking the area to soothe her swollen teats. One more reason for this id is the shape of the masculine opossum’s penis. That is bifurcated, choose a 2 pronged fork. It was believed that the shape of the penis was a perfect fit because that the woman opossum’s nose. This isn’t true either. The female has an internal, bifurcated reproductive tract as well.

Opossum sperm are interesting? Sperm top align and pair within the male reproductive tract during sperm maturation. The sperm are ejaculated together pairs and remain paired inside the mrs reproductive street until just prior come fertilization in ~ which time the combine sperm different into single spermatozoa. Why this fascinating process occurs and why the occurs only in the American marsupials and not the Australian marsupials is not totally understood The pairing that spermatozoa may rise sperm motility in the mrs reproductive tract and/or may help protect the sperm acrosomes during passage n the woman tract.

The breeding season because that the Virginia opossum can start as at an early stage as December and also continue through October with most infants born between the month of February and June. A woman opossum may have 1-3 litters every year. Throughout the mating season, the masculine attracts the woman by making click sounds with his mouth.


The female opossum is a voluntary ovulator through an estrous cycle of about 28 days. She is in estrus a brief period, around 36 hours. This is the time mating have the right to occur. Sperm, i m sorry has become paired in the masculine opossum’s reproductive tract, will move through the lateral quality canals and also become different again in the female’s tract. If fertilization occurs, the fertilized eggs move from the oviducts to the uteri wherein they will gestate for a short period before being yielded through the medial vagina or central birth canal.


infant a couple of days old, alongside dime for dimension comparison

11-13 work after adjustment over 20 babies may it is in born, return an typical litter is composed of 8-9 infants. The babies are so small at birth the 20 might fit right into a teaspoon. Every of the hairless, embryonic-looking “pinkies” space no bigger than the dimension of a bee or a dime and weigh around 0.13 grams. At birth, the infants must do a long and an overwhelming journey native the birth canal into the pouch, latch ~ above a teat, and also continue your development. The mom helps through licking the hair leading right into the pouch, providing a moist path for the babies to follow.


infants v eyes closed

The teat swells in the infant’s mouth help it to stay attached for about 2 months and providing a resource of nutrition. On average, over there are just 13 teats in the pouch and also not all might be functional. If much more infants room born than the number of functional teats available, the excess infants will no survive. Also, if only one separation, personal, instance attaches, milk production by the mother probably will not occur.


This opossum is no pregnant. She is transferring 9 babies in she pouch

The young continue to be in the pouch for about 2 1/2 months and at roughly 55-70 work the eye open. As they become too huge to right in the pouch, they rise onto the mother’s earlier and are brought as she searches for food. At this time the young are discovering survival an abilities such as finding food sources and predator avoidance. If among the young i do not care separated native its mother it will make sneezing sounds to speak to her. She, in turn, will certainly make click sounds.


juvenile opossum


The young are weaned at about 3 months of age and are on their own at 4 1/2 – 5 months as soon as they are approximately 7-9 inches lengthy from sleep to rump, excluding the tail. In a couple of months they will reproduce and also continue the fascinating life bike of the Virginia opossum.

Breeding season bring on two major consequences. First, males prolonging their variety to search for mates are much more subject come injury or fatality by cars, dogs and also other predators. Second, females laden through young cannot run as fast and have come forage earlier in the evening and later in the morning. They hazard exposing themselves to boosted predation and more encounters through people, pets and also cars with possible injurious or fatal consequences. Countless times the mom does not survive these encounters and also the young, usually found still alive in the pouch, at some point wind increase in the hands of wildlife rehabilitators.

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It is essential to always check the bag of a deceased female for live young. If found then seek prompt medical assistance.