What Do Opossums Eat?

Opossums are small marsupials that are commonly found in North America.

They’re the most common marsupials in the Western Hemisphere and you may also hear them referred to simply as possums, although they are different from the possums that inhabit Australia.

What Do Opossums Eat?

For many people in North America, these animals are considered pests but they also serve an important role while in the wild. They’re even kept as pets by some because of their friendly and inquisitive nature.

But what do opossums eat? In this article, we will answer this question.

Let’s get started!

Are Opossums Herbivores, Carnivores, Or Omnivores?

Let’s begin by defining what these three terms mean and then we will look at what category opossums belong to.


Herbivores are animals that purely eat plants (see also: Animals That Eat Plants)and vegetables.

They don’t consume any meat at all and have evolved special digestive tracts that allow them to digest all of the different plant matter the animals may eat.

This can include vegetation such as plants, vegetables, grass, fruits, or seeds.

In general, vegetation doesn’t have as many nutrients as meat does, so many herbivores have to spend long periods of their day just eating and grazing in order to get all the nutrients and energy they need.


In contrast to herbivores, carnivores only eat the meat that comes from other animals. Carnivorous animals find this meat by hunting other animals for food and they need a large amount of meat to sustain their diets.

The teeth of carnivores have evolved to support their diet and they usually have large canines and sharp molars. These allow carnivores to tear and chew meat.


Omnivores share many characteristics with both herbivores and carnivores as they eat both meat and plants.

This means that they can find food from several different sources and even have the ability to change their diet depending on what food is available in their environment.

The diet of omnivores can even change depending on the season and what food sources are available.

As omnivores consume both vegetation and meat, they have a wide variety of different teeth that help them to eat both.

What Category Do Opossums Belong To?

Opossums are omnivores as they eat both meat and vegetation. They’re notorious for eating virtually anything that they can get their teeth into and will try to eat whatever they can.

This is especially evident in the wild where they are quite opportunistic and will eat whatever is available in their environment. 

They’re natural scavengers and will often venture into homes and gardens to find something to eat. Depending on your point of view and the situation, this can be both beneficial and a detriment!

What Do Opossums Eat?

What Do Opossums Eat?

The eating habits of opossums can be beneficial because part of their diet includes many items that humans like to dispose of. However, this can also be a problem.

Opossums Can Eat Vermin

In many cases, opossums can almost act as exterminators as they love to munch down on many of the critters that humans hate to have around. 

It’s not uncommon for wild opossums to make meals out of bugs such as spiders, cockroaches, and other insects.

If you see a sudden drop in these around your home, you might have an opossum that likes to visit your yard!

Opossums will even eat bigger prey, such as mice, rats, and frogs.

Although small when compared to many other marsupials, opossums are still much bigger than your average mouse and they can take care of a mouse problem as well as any cat can.

Opossums Will Take Care Of Your Garden

As well as eliminating all of those nasty bugs and vermin that might plague your home and yard, opossums can also tidy up your garden.

Unlike most wild animals, opossums actually prefer to eat vegetation that has wilted and begun decaying.

They’ll often ignore any green and healthy crops in favor of those that aren’t as well-nourished so they can help to reduce the number of weeds that spring up in your yard.

Opossums Can Also Eat Carrion

If you’ve driven around enough roads in the United States, you’re bound to have seen the unfortunate sight of some roadkill at the side of the road.

Carrion, or dead animals, are a natural part of life, and disposing of them is never a pleasant task.

In many cases, however, opossums will feed on carrion and have no issues with stripping the bones of any dead and decaying animals (see also: Animals That Play Dead)they find.

They will scavenge food wherever they find it and this even includes at the side of the road.

Opossums Will Also Eat Your Pet’s Food

Be careful when it comes to feeding your beloved cats and dogs as when given the chance, an opossum will gladly empty their food bowls. This is especially the case if you leave any food outside.

If your pet is begging for food despite having just been fed, it might be that an opossum ate their food before they had a chance to!

Opossums Will Eat Literal Garbage

As we’ve said before, opossums are scavengers and they won’t leave their scavenging just to what they can see.

Opossums are well-known for tearing apart trash bags to get some food so if you find that your garbage has been disturbed and is lying across your yard, it might be the result of an opossum.

Opossums have a great sense of smell and this means that they can often smell scraps of food that have been disposed of in trash bags.

They have no qualms about ripping apart a trash bag to get a meal so make sure your garbage is securely stored if there are opossums about.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we learned that opossums are omnivores that will eat almost anything.

They like to eat vermin and dying vegetation, but will also attack your trash to find a meal if they have to. We hope we’ve answered all of your questions about what opossums eat.

Olivia Kepner