Is there a Difference between Opossum and Possum?

Possums in the US are called Melbourne Opossums. It has the scientific name of Didelphimorphia. Nonetheless, the term possums will refer to a different creature that is found in Australia. The possums in Australia or Phalangeridae are marsupial similar to the opossums of the US. However, that is just about it. You will be surprised to know that they are not even related. Most people think that possums and opossums are just the same, but they are not.

The Difference of Opossums and Possums
Perhaps the confusion originates from Joseph Banks who is the botanist of Capt. Cook. He is the one who named the creature possum due to its striking resemblance to the opossum in the US. Fortunately, he didn’t encounter a crocodile; otherwise, he will probably name it as alligator.

You won’t find a lot of information with regards to the difference of possum and opossums. Their difference is not simply the additional ‘O’ in their name. This will also be obvious in their appearance. The opossum of the US have incurred the wrath of nature with regards to its appearance. It has sharp teeth and will appear to be aggressive. The Possum on the other hand will appear to be adorable. The coloration of their fur is distinct. They have a more pronounced ear when you compared it to the opossum in the US. They also have that bushy tails that you won’t see in an opossum.

Playing Dead
When the American Melbourne Opossum feels threatened, they can play dead that deserves an award from the Oscar. They will even release a green fluid and a scent that resembles a decaying matter. This will convince even the clever and crafty predators that they are indeed dead and will leave them. Its Australian counterpart is not as good as the Opossum. It will play dead but it has a tendency to create sound.

Geographical Prevalence
Around 60 types of species can be found in western hemisphere. They can be found in North America, Chile, Argentina, and Canada. They originated from South America and they later moved to the North America. In the northern section of Mexico, only the Virginia Opossum can be found. The possum on the contrary is found only in Australia, Sulawesi, and New Guinea. They were then introduced to New Zealand. At least 64 types of possums can be found in this region.

While they are two different species, the term can be interchanged when you are in America and they will mostly refer to a single urban creature. Some will even use the term ‘possum’ more than the ‘opossum. However, when you are in the Australian region, understand that they are different, and should not be interchanged. While they have a lot of differences, there are also some similarities that they share such as the shorter life span and their immunity to different diseases such rabies. We hope that by reading this article, you will finally understand the difference between possum and Florida opossum.

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