Animal Encounters

Fun Animal Encounters

From a hairy tarantula to a talking African gray parrot, you never know what you’ll bump into in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari at the Tennessee Aquarium!


Virginia Opossum

Didelphis virginiana

ON EXHIBIT:  Classroom and Encounter Animal

Virginia Opossum

The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial (pouched mammal) found in the United States. Possums have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. They are unusually resistant to the venom of venomous snakes and are extremely unlikely to acquire rabies. They have 50 very sharp teeth, more than any land mammal. 

The Virginia opossum range has expanded greatly since it was first seen in Virginia as the land was colonized. Currently, IUCN lists Virginia opossums as of Least Concern.

Fan Photo

Photo by Aquarium Staff 

About This Animal

SIZE:  6-13 lbs, body length of 12-20 inches, tail length of 15 inches 

RANGE: Costa Rica north through Mexico to the central and eastern half of the United States into southeastern Canada. After being introduced in 1890, populations have established in California and along the West Coast.

HABITAT: Very adaptable, making their homes in rural, urban and suburban areas. They are commonly found in woodlands, agricultural areas and neighborhoods if cover is available.

DIET: Will eat insects, snails, slugs, rodents, and other small vertebrates, plant matter including overripe fruits, eggs, pet foods, human garbage and dead animals.