Do Opossums Hibernate in the Winter?

Do opossums hibernate
Opossums do not hibernate in the winter. Opossums often die in winter due to a lack of preparation and fur. These critters make nests to sleep in, and their nests can be found in sheltered areas such as caves and logs. 

Where do opossums sleep?

Opossums find a sheltered place to sleep and don’t sleep in the open. Opossums, commonly known as possums, build nests to sleep in. They also use natural resources such as logs and caves as shelter to rest.

Opossums may find a spot to sleep under a homeowner’s porch. They also have been known to make their way into garages and chimneys.

Although most opossums are arboreal, they do not usually sleep in trees. Opossums are generally only in trees to eat food and then return to the ground. 

opossum close up

Are opossums nocturnal?

Opossums are nocturnal, meaning they are primarily active at night and sleep during the day. They spend nights searching for food. Opossums are known to be pests to homeowners because they dig through trash cans at night, particularly in the winter when food is scarce. 

Opossums may be seen during the day if they are scavenging for food. The chances of seeing an opossum during the day increase during the winter, when food is scarce.

Sometimes when a nocturnal animal is seen during the daytime, it is a sign that the animal has rabies. This is not the case for opossums since it is very rare that they have rabies

Do opossums hibernate in the winter?

Opossums do not hibernate. Opossums are less active in the winter than other times of the year, but they do not go into a state of hibernation.

Most wild animals prepare for winter by storing food, increasing their body fat, and growing a thicker coat. The only preparation that opossums take for winter is finding a warm shelter. Since opossums do not hibernate or store food, they must actively search for food in the winter.

Opossums are omnivores, and they will eat just about anything. They eat fruits, nuts, and seeds. Regarding other animals, opossums eat small mammals such as birds, rodents, and carrion. 

dead opossum in the snow

What Do Opossums Do In The Winter?

Winter is the most challenging season for opossums. Their fur doesn’t provide enough insulation, so they often suffer in cold weather. Opossums often catch frostbite and hypothermia in the winter months.

They have a hairless tail and hairless ears, so this exposure to the cold air can make them sick. Opossums that have frostbite visibly lack parts of their ears and tails.

They can also catch frostbite on their paws. When an opossum catches frostbite or hypothermia, the opossum will likely die. Opossums have an average lifespan of two years

Death in the winter is one of the main reasons that opossums don’t live very long. Another reason opossums may perish in the winter is because they may not leave their nests to find food in harsh weather, resulting in starvation.

Where do opossums nest?

Opossums build nests in any safe and dry location. Opossums create their nests near rock crevices, in hollow tree stumps, wood piles, and crawl spaces under buildings.

They may also nest in burrows dug by other animals. Opossums prefer to build their nests near a water and food source.

They have several nests that they move between every two to three days. Opossums rotate den sites as a tactic to avoid predators.

two opossums near a metal fence and rock wall

What do Opossums make nests out of?

Opossums use small items such as twigs and leaves to keep their nest warm and sheltered. They also pick up littered trash, such as plastic bags or food wrappers, to make their nests.

They use their mouth and tail to move the items to their nest. Opossums gather their items with their mouth and transport them through their legs. Their tail curls around the items to hold them and transport them.

However, the tail does not provide adequate support, so the opossum will often drop items on its way to its nest. Opossums enter the nest and use these small items to close off the entryway to their nest. 

Opossums can be found in many urban areas. They have adapted to urban sounds such as mowing, children, and dogs. These sounds do not bother them and won’t cause them to flee their nest.


Whitney is a graduate of Georgetown College and a current graduate student at the University of the Cumberlands. She resides in the beautiful state of Kentucky, which she has always appreciated and endeavors to maintain the land's well-being. A lover of animals and the earth, Whitney strives to communicate accurate information that will help readers learn new information, ideas, and become informed stewards of the natural world.

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