What is a marsupial? A marsupial is an animal belonging to the order Marsupiala, infraclass Metatheria. Members encompass the kangaroo, koala, Tasmanian devil and also the Virginia opossum. Marsupials offer birth to fetal-like young following a brief gestation period. The young then nurse because that an extended duration of time. The is generally welcomed that a marsupial is a non-placental mammal who female carries she young in a pouch, or marsupium, which offers the arising young v the ideal environment, warmth, possess a placenta, although the placenta is non-invasive and functions in nutrient and waste transfer for a an extremely short duration of time, around 3 days in the Virginia opossum.

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Female opossum with young in pouch

With the end a long-lasting and functional placenta, the young must be born at an early stage in their advance after a brief gestation period. Marsupial young space basically embryos in ~ birth. When born, the young must climb with a swimming movement up the fur on the female’s adbomen and also latch onto a teat. No all mrs marsupials own a well-developed pouch, as discovered on the abdomen of the Virginia opossum. Part marsupials carry young in rudimentary pouches which space basically skin folds. Countless other do not have actually a bag at all. The pouchless young must firmly attach to the teats through their mouths and also front paws.

The reproductive device of the opossum has actually fascinated many and also has led to exciting folklore. It was once thought that the male opossum mated with the woman opossum’s nose. She climate sneezed the young through her nose and also into the pouch. Of course, this is no true. There room several factors why this belief was held. One factor is that opossums space so little at bear it is an overwhelming to evil the event. Observers had seen the female through an empty pouch one day. The following day she was seen with her nose in the bag making sneezing sounds. Later, upon check of the pouch, tiny embryos to be found. Actually, the mrs opossum was either cleaning the pouch prior to the birth or licking the area to soothe her swollen teats. An additional reason for this id is the form of the male opossum’s penis. That is bifurcated, favor a 2 pronged fork. It was believed that the form of the cock was a perfect fit for the female opossum’s nose. This isn’t true either. The female has an internal, bifurcated reproductive tract together well.

Opossum sperm space interesting? Sperm heads align and also pair within the male reproductive tract during sperm maturation. The sperm room ejaculated together pairs and remain paired inside the mrs reproductive street until simply prior come fertilization at which time the combine sperm different into single spermatozoa. Why this fascinating process occurs and also why the occurs just in the American marsupials and also not the Australian marsupials is not fully understood The pairing of spermatozoa may rise sperm motility in the female reproductive tract and/or may assist protect the sperm acrosomes throughout passage n the woman tract.

The reproduction season because that the Virginia opossum can start as early on as December and also continue v October through most infants born between the months of February and also June. A woman opossum may have actually 1-3 litters every year. Throughout the mating season, the masculine attracts the mrs by making click sounds with his mouth.


The woman opossum is a spontaneous ovulator through an estrous bike of around 28 days. She is in estrus a short period, around 36 hours. This is the moment mating can occur. Sperm, i m sorry has become paired in the masculine opossum’s reproductive tract, will move through the lateral quality canals and also become separate again in the female’s tract. If fertilization occurs, the fertilized eggs relocate from the oviducts to the uteri whereby they will certainly gestate because that a short period before being ceded through the medial vagina or central birth canal.


infant a couple of days old, alongside dime for dimension comparison

11-13 job after adjustment over 20 infants may be born, return an average litter is composed of 8-9 infants. The infants are so tiny at birth that 20 can fit right into a teaspoon. Each of the hairless, embryonic-looking “pinkies” room no bigger than the dimension of a punishment or a dime and also weigh approximately 0.13 grams. At birth, the babies must do a lengthy and daunting journey native the birth canal into the pouch, latch ~ above a teat, and continue your development. The mommy helps by licking the hair leading right into the pouch, giving a moist route for the infants to follow.


infants v eyes closed

The teat swells in the infant’s mouth help it to stay attached for around 2 months and providing a resource of nutrition. Top top average, there are just 13 teats in the pouch and also not all might be functional. If an ext infants room born 보다 the variety of functional teats available, the excess infants will not survive. Also, if only one separation, personal, instance attaches, milk manufacturing by the mother probably will no occur.


This opossum is no pregnant. She is transporting 9 babies in she pouch

The young continue to be in the pouch for about 2 1/2 months and also at roughly 55-70 job the eyes open. Together they end up being too huge to fit in the pouch, they rise onto the mother’s earlier and are carried as she searches because that food. Currently the young are finding out survival an abilities such together finding food sources and predator avoidance. If one of the young i do not care separated from its mother it will certainly make sneezing sounds to speak to her. She, in turn, will make clicking sounds.


juvenile opossum


The young are weaned at approximately 3 months of age and also are on their very own at 4 1/2 – 5 months as soon as they are approximately 7-9 inches lengthy from nose to rump, not included the tail. In a few months they will certainly reproduce and continue the fascinating life bike of the Virginia opossum.

Breeding season bring on two major consequences. First, males extending their variety to find for mates are an ext subject to injury or fatality by cars, dogs and other predators. Second, females laden with young cannot operation as fast and also have come forage previously in the evening and later in the morning. They risk exposing us to boosted predation and an ext encounters v people, pets and cars with feasible injurious or deadly consequences. Countless times the mom does not survive these encounters and also the young, usually uncovered still lively in the pouch, eventually wind increase in the hand of wildlife rehabilitators.

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It is crucial to constantly check the pouch of a deceased female because that live young. If found then seek immediate medical assistance.