Opossums are not true hibernators. They generally spend the winter in a torpor, a state of reduced activity.
They may not move at all during this period but are they really hibernating like other animals do during this period?
Do opossums hibernate? Opossums are nocturnal animals, so you wouldn’t expect them to hibernate.
But there are a few opossum species that don’t need to hibernate and are active during the winter. Read this article to find out more about what they do during this time!
What Is An Opossum?
Opossum is a marsupial, also called a rat-kangaroo, from the family Didelphidae. It is the only marsupial in the United States.
The opossum is a marsupial mammal in the order Didelphimorphia. It is the only extant marsupial in the Americas and is endemic to the southern half of the continent.
Opossums are omnivores, with an average of 33 teeth, and a characteristic.
The Opossum is a nocturnal creature which sleeps during the day and comes alive during the night.
They will be searching for food in the evening. They do not hibernate like other animals do during the colder months.
However, they do slow down quite a bit and you will have a lot less of them.
Rather than hibernating they tend to stay in little dens in the cold weather to keep warm and stay safe.
These dens are most commonly known as little burrows which they will fill with leaves or paper, that sort of material.
The fat reserves are used to keep themselves warm in the colder months. However, when it is nice and hot, they have to lick themselves to keep cool.
Where Else Do Opossums Find Shelter In Colder Months?
Due to the fact that these animals do not hibernate and stay in one place for the coldest months, they also will inhabit different areas to keep warm.
They have been quite(see also: Animals That Are Quiet) an issue in peoples homes and outbuildings where they will climb underneath and make their way in.
This can become a problem if you have food or anything they can eat in there as it can become an infestation issue.
You can also find them in trees and in wood such as logs. They are able to make themselves little dens in these areas.
They can also find shelter in rock crevices which is quite common depending on how open they are.
However, finding shelter can be difficult for the Opossum in the Winter months due to the ice and snow which can prevent them from making a den.
What Difficulties Do They Face In The Colder Months?
As we mentioned previously, they can find it really difficult to find a place to keep warm and take shelter due to the weather.
However, they can also struggle physically with their hairless tails, paws and ears. They can get extremely cold and it can be difficult for them to be as active.
They can also get frostbite which is very common which is why they need to find shelter quickly and also look for pre-existing dens to use for shelter.
It is more common for them to use dens which have already been created rather than digging their own unless it is their only option.
What Can They Eat In The Winter?
Food can be much more scarce for them in the Winter and because they do not hibernate, they still have to go out at night to find their food.
They are likely to find rodents, snakes or insects to eat, but they can also opt for eggs and fruit if that is not available.
Therefore, they do have a wide range of food they can scavenge for, but they are much less active in the Winter and tend to be much slower because of the physical struggles they face with the cold and the ice.
You need to be making sure that you are not leaving any food lying around in your garden or in outer buildings because they will keep coming back and will not leave if they think they can have food there.
This can lead to more and more coming and will be an issue for your home safety. This is very common in the US because there are a fair few Opossums around.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Time Of Year Are Opossums Most Active?
Opossums (see also: Do Opossums Bite?)are most active in the Spring and Summer, but will show up at any time of year.
When it comes to the colder months they tend to be less active due to the massive drop in temperatures where you are more likely to find them in dens.
What Do Opossums Eat In The Winter?
These types of food can get scarce in the Winter due to weather conditions!
Overall, Opossums do not hibernate like other animals do in the colder months of the year.
However, they do still have a very similar reaction where their daily routines will slow down and they are unable to be as active as they are in the hotter months.
Food can also be more scarce and it can be difficult for them to eat in the snow and ice and they struggle to move around as much from frostbite in their paws and ears.
Hopefully this guide has explained why Opossums do not hibernate and what they must do instead as nocturnal beings.
They can be quite a big problem when it comes to people’s homes as they see them as a place of food and warmth, but you must not keep feeding them as more might come and you could end up with an infestation of Opossums.
They aren’t known for attacking people for no reason, but when they are cornered they are prone to biting which can be quite dangerous as they do carry diseases.