What do Possums eat? Diet, Habitat, and Nesting

opossum walking on the top of a fence in winter
Possums are omnivores and they will eat just about anything. They eat insects, small animals, and plants. Baby opossums are blind, deaf, and hairless. They stay with their mothers until about the time they reach sexual maturity, which happens when they are one year old.

What do Opossums eat?

Opossums are omnivores, meaning they eat various foods, including meat and plants. Possums are not picky animals. Possums in urban areas dig through trash cans and compost to find food.

Digging through garbage cans is one reason they are known as pests. These critters will also eat on bird feeders and will eat any pet food left outside.

A large part of a possum’s diet is insects. Possums commonly eat grasshoppers, beetles, and cockroaches. They also eat small mammals. Possums hunt and eat rabbits, mice, rats, and birds. Other small animals that possums enjoy are slugs, fish, snails, and frogs. 

Do Opossums eat other animals?

Possums often eat dead animals, or carrion. This causes possums to often become roadkill themselves. Possums will eat the carrion of any animal.

Possums eat snakes and easily digest them. Possums are immune to some types of snake venom. Some types of snakes they eat include copperheads, water moccasins, and rattlesnakes. 

Opossums enjoy plant foods including berries, nuts, and seeds. They will eat from vegetable and fruit gardens. Possums eat sweet potatoes, apples, and carrots. When no other food is available, possums will eat grass and leaves. 

opossum in a yard with a large black Labrador dog nearby

Are Possums Dangerous?

Possums have the ability to kill small dogs and cats, but they do not prey on these domestic pets. When a possum notices a cat or dog nearby, it is more likely to run away than to attack.

A possum may hiss, but it is very rare for it to attack. When threatened, possums often play dead instead of attacking. Even though possums won’t kill pets for food, the diseases they spread can be deadly.

A bite from a possum could transmit diseases such as leptospirosis, tuberculosis, and tularemia. Diseases from possums could also be spread through contact with bodily fluids. 

Do Opossums Eat Chickens?

Possums are more likely to attack chickens than any other pet. However, this is not a common occurrence. Possums only eat chickens when food is scarce.

They will happily eat chicken eggs and chicken feed, but rarely do they desire to put in the effort to kill a chicken. Possums are lazy scavengers, and chickens can be challenging for them to get to. 

opossum eating a mouse

10 Opossums Facts 

  1. Opossums have opposable thumbs.
  2. Opossums carry their babies in a pouch. 
  3. Opossums self-groom. 
  4. Opossums have fifty teeth.
  5. Opossums rarely carry the rabies virus.
  6. A single possum eats 5,000 ticks in a season. 
  7. Opossums are nocturnal. 
  8. Opossums use many vocalizations to communicate with each other.
  9. Opossums are marsupials.
  10. Opossums hang from their tails for brief periods.

How to recognize a baby opossum?

A newborn baby possum is pink and hairless. Baby possums are attached to their mother’s teat, and their eyes are closed. These are signs that the possum is under two months old. 

Possums stay attached to their mothers until they are between six to eight inches in length. At this age, they have hair, and their eyes are open. Once baby possums leave their mother’s pouch, they ride on their mother’s back for two more months. 

If a baby possum is walking on its own, it is most likely over a year old and should be left alone. If you find a baby possum less than about seven inches, you should call pest control. Do not handle the possum by yourself.

golden possum eating on a wood log

How rare are golden opossums?

Golden possums are very rare. They are uncommon in the wild since their bright fur makes them an easy target for predators. Golden possums are brushtail possums that live in Australia. 


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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